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Shepley First School

Garden Diary 2016-17


Checked and watered greenhouse and potting shed plants. Checked water butts, all full again, including the big one. No children came out so I weeded the oak hedge border. When the children came out, they were very interested to how all the crops had done over the summer, so we had a tour. Then we harvested the multi-coloured Harlequin carrots and the celery plants, which the children enjoyed. We washed some celery and carrots, and cut them up to sample some with some savoury dips I brought in as a healthy crudity snack. They took the veg. in for the kitchens. I noticed that the potatoes had still not been taken for consumption (after 2 weeks of losing freshness), and the celery will not keep that long, so needs using pronto (10 plants). In the last hour, I weeded around the base of the newly-planted fruit tree avenue, and noticed that a few of the trees have been damaged by the lawnmower ramming up against them and cutting the bark off. These workers need informing of the need to go carefully around such areas. Also weeded the nearest edge of the allotment fence base, where weeds were also choking the newly-planted native tree hedge.



Brought in a draft bid order for autumn-planting seeds and bulbs, plus a re-order for Tommy Topsoil compost. Requested to liaise with Emma re teaching mapping and O.S. work in Y5. Watered plants in the potting shed. Opened the greenhouse. First group of children helped me lift the tomato plants out of the greenhouse and into the potting shed where there is more room. Then we harvested apples and a ‘full’ Victoria plum tree which the children last week had missed. We all enjoyed a ripe plum in the sunshine, and took the rest to the hall, where the potatoes and apples from last week have still not been used by the kitchen staff. Then the children were shown how to cut strawberry runner plantlets which were straying onto the path area, and pot them up for new plants (for eventual transplant back into the currant/strawberry bed, or for sale if surplus). The next group also had a plum, then began digging over the weeds in the main ground allotment beds, harvesting some onions and garlic in the process, now also in the hall in a pot for the kitchens to use. I weeded and watered the raised beds and some allotment plants, and sprinkled slug pellets on the pumpkin plants, whose flowers were being eaten. Weeded stinging nettles from under the allotment hedge plants. A couple of the raised beds now have collapsed sides which could do with being fixed by the Kirklees joiner some time over the winter. Unfortunately, someone (probably ‘visitors’!) has turned on the big water butt tap and let all the water run out, back down to the tap level, but at least this allowed me to re-snap the cover on properly to maintain its shape.



At last, got some teams of children to begin harvesting various produce: Took 3 cucumbers out of the greenhouse (one had gone yellow but two were large, hard and green). Then we harvested the Borlotti beans, most of which had gone past their best, so we have grouped them in two different piles at either end of the tray: still good pink and white shells at one end, and those where the shells had gone hard and brown, but the beans inside (also pink and white) are still good for cooking, if the kitchens want to use them. If not, then we can use them for saving and planting again next year, so don’t throw away please. Then we set to in pairs picking all the apples from around the henny field trees, including from trees only planted this spring!  There are two Bramley cookers from one of these 2016-planted trees, and each apple type is in a different tub on the benches in the hall. All are good for eating – last year we put labels on them encouraging healthy eating. The ‘russetty’ large firm ones, I think may also be cookers, though some of the children like their rather sour taste. Once collected, I sliced several sample types for the children to try (with two groups) and they shared their thornless blackberries which they also had picked, to make a healthy ‘blackberry and apple’ snack on a hot day.

The second (and third) groups then harvested the 8 free Potato Marketing Council sacks by predicting how many potatoes would be found in each sack, one at a time. The scores were written down. The potatoes were all eventually put in one trug and taken to the hall for the kitchens, and the compost spread for recycling onto the raised beds. Photos were taken of the children and produce, by the children, on a camera brought out, so they have a lot of pictures of the harvest, as evidence for Eco-Schools (and Food for Life Gold?). We also looked at the range and condition of the rest of the raised bed crops, and identified when they would be ready, some, e.g., not till January, e.g. leeks, broccoli and kale, but pumpkins and squash in Oct/Nov. All water butts now full and working well. After school and before groups came down, I watered some plants, and weeded, plus dug up the last of the row of artichokes and          re-planted along the inside of the ground allotment fence. Also put a slab under the water butt between greenhouse and shed for the can to rest on. Cut the native tree hedge down to fence height outside the allotment fence. Sprinkled slug pellets into the middle rhubarb tub which had had its leaves eaten.



Brought in some unused garden lime from home and spread on the raised beds. Brought in the rope and eye hooks purchased to provide extra safety cordons around the two new water butts. Tied up the long strands of thornless blackberries to the allotment fence with some of the rope. Requested children for harvesting jobs, but none came out, (new rota needed), so got on with garden jobs: Weeded raised beds again. Watered raised beds. Weeded (worst of) and watered in allotment. Took out the perennial plants (fuschias, ivies, etc.) from the Bee Hotel display, potted up, watered and placed in the potting shed. Watered potting shed aubergines and growbags in the greenhouse. Removed more stinging nettles from the raised bed area, also cut back some brambles from behind the shed. Got the caretaker’s step ladders and got onto the Eco roof at last. Hundreds of alder and birch tree seedlings were establishing themselves in the sedum roof, so removed most of them, some of them substantial mini-trees already. (Val had said that someone is paid to come and do that each year, but it hasn’t been done to my knowledge for years.) Broke off more over-hanging alder tree branches that were the source of the roof seedlings. Reluctantly removed more Phacelia (a ‘green manure’ plant with a beautiful purple flower that the bees love) and self-seeded borage (beautiful edible flowers and leaves) from the raised beds to make more room for the leeks which are doing very well, and will give a good crop throughout next winter. Tidied some pots into the shed as they will get blown about soon. Planted the red currant, purchased at the weekend, into the space in the currant garden left by the removal of the big water butt down to the Eco. This now completes the full range of currant bushes (black, white, josta (a thornless gooseberry-black currant cross) and red, all under-planted with strawberries).


Visited two local garden centres to purchase a red currant plant – the one type of currant we don’t have. Took it in to the garden ready for planting. Checked and watered greenhouse and potting shed plants. After yesterday’s all day heavy rain, the new small water butt from the potting shed is now full, and the big butt by the Eco is still full, with the drips from the Eco roof downpiping now filling the old small butt. So we will soon have: 4 full small water butts and one big butt

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