An active lunch hour at Reepham High School and College Allotment Project
I’ve written a little about this Allotment Project before. Headed up by enthusiastic teacher Matt Willer, it provides pupils of all ages at Reepham High School and College with some extra curricular ‘outside classroom’ experience of growing food. I’ve offered to provide some help and the other day I spent an hour with them.
A lot of older boys turned up and Matt set them to shifting bark across the surrounds to some raised beds. Matt had also brought in two old car tyres he’d found, and these were duly filled with soil ready for planting up; another example of Matt’s creative approach to recycling in the project.
How many boys does it take to shift a pile of bark….
I was pleased to see some faces that I recognised from a few years ago, when I was providing help at nearby Cawston Primary School; it was good to see these youngsters had retained their interest in growing. It was also nice that they also recognised me!
Another good thing was to see that Matt had taken my ideas of sowing some green manure on a couple of large raised beds, and that the mustard seeds had germinated and hopefully will go on to cover the ground and be ready to dig in early next spring.
Apart from the many boys, some other teachers (one of whom I’d worked with on gardening at the school a couple of years ago) brought a group of girls down who are part of an extra curricuar group interested in science and technology. I worked with them to sow some broad beans in four raised beds, explaining why we sow now, the benefits of broad beans (apart from the delicious flavour) and we prepared the soil, measured out rows, sowed and labelled each row. We even had a few seeds left so that they could take a personal plant home in a pot and see how their’s grows in comparison with those put in at the Allotment.
For once, a picture of me talking to the girls about broad beans…yawn
It was good fun and I look forward to my next session there.
Old School Gardener
Ther RHS national schools science project starts this week
Today (18 April) British astronaut Tim Peake sent a special message from space to the hundreds of thousands of children who will be beginning our Rocket Science project in partnership with the UK Space Agency experiment this week.
Tim, who delivered the message from the International Space Station where he’s been since December, wished the 600,000 young people signed up to the experiment good luck with their investigations into the impact of micro-gravity and space travel on seed germination and growth. The results will help to form a clearer picture of the potential for astronauts to grow their own food to sustain them on long-term missions.
Speaking while 400km above the surface of the Earth, Tim said:
“This is a really exciting week for the hundreds of thousands of young people across the country who will begin their Rocket Science experiments. I’d like to wish everyone taking part the best of luck with their investigations and I look forward to seeing some of the results.
“It’s possible that among those pupils taking part in the project are the young people who will help mankind reach the next big milestones in space exploration for the benefit of people on Earth. I hope the RHS Campaign for School Gardening’s Rocket Science experiment will spark curiosity and wonder amongst young people who may become the next generation of horticultural scientists.”
With more than 8,600 schools and educational groups poised to begin their Rocket Science experiment this week, the project is now among the biggest mass science experiments conducted in UK schools.
Rocket Science will see school pupils across the country spend 35 days analysing the growth and development of two batches of seemingly identical rocket seeds. However, one batch of seeds has spent time in space with Tim on the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth at 17,000mph. The aim of the experiment is to enthuse young people about science and horticulture and provide the European Space Agency with key insights into some of the challenges of growing food in space.
Results of the experiment will be published later in the year but keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and Twitter page for updates!
To Walter Degrasse
29th May 2015
Looking back to my letter to you at this time last year, I see that various things were further ahead, especially in the ornamental garden and to some extent vegetables. But it’s still a lovely time of year, with fresh green growth everywhere and other emerging colours in flower and foliage.
I was out weeding today and planting out some Cosmos, tobacco plants and ornamental grasses, just before the rain came to helpfully water them in. I finally got round to weeding (for the first time this year) an area at the front of the garden which was in danger of becoming overgrown with ground elder, nettles and the like- it was a relief to see it cleared and the strong growth of the shrubs and other plants there coming through, hopefully to invade the space that I’ve created. Whilst I was out a group stopped by the gate and were talking about the garden- after bidding them good morning they were very complimentary about the garden, which is always nice to hear.
Elsewhere in the garden I’m just about up to speed on the food front. Broad beans are podding up nicely, I’ve some Calabrese, Cabbage and onions bulking up. The potatoes are up above ground (I’ll earth these up next week), and I’ve just put out some squash (interplanted with the onions) and Sweet Corn. I don’t know if you watch the gardening programme ‘Beechwood Garden’ (shown early Sunday mornings on BBC 1), but they are trialling different approaches to growing tomatoes in a greenhouse. I was very interested to see the use of as specially designed ‘aquaponic’ system where the plants sit in pots with a wick in then that is dipped in a reservoir underneath in which you out the diluted feed. I’ve decided to buy the ‘Quadgrow’ system which I think is the one the TV programme is using, and can;t wait to get this set up next week. I’ve got 8 good looking tomato plants from my friend Steve to put in as well as the usual cucumber and peppers he’s kindly given me.
So, Old School Garden, in spite of me being away for much of the month, seems to be shaping up nicely. Oh, I almost forgot, I finally cut back the Melianthus having had a couple fo flower spikes go over. It’s interesting seeing how small the new growth is compared to last year when I cut it back much earlier. I wonder if it will catch up!
As I’ve been away a lot I haven’t been in to Gressenhall or Blickling much. you may have seen my post about my latest sessions at Blickling earlier in the week. I also spent a couple fo hours at Gressenhall, doing a bit of tidying up and planting out a few annuals in the gaps in one of the borders there as well as the entrance border, which I was pleased to see looking good, with purple Alliums contrasting well with the newly maroon red foliage of the Cotinus. The grasses in this border have done really well, in fact they might be in danger of unbalancing the design, so a bit of ‘editing’ might be required here.
Gressenhall entrance border
Well, as you read this we shall be back in Devon once more, hopefully finally sorting out a flat for my mother-in Law and getting some bulky items moved across so that she can move in once she’s out of hospital. Oh, and no doubt there’ll be a bit of lawn cutting and weeding to be done in her current garden, to prepare the way for selling the place.
I do hope that you and Lise are enjoying the lovely Spring weather and managing to get out and enjoy your garden, especially now that you’ve got a gardener in to help you manage it. All the best for this month old friend.
Old School Gardener