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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Guest Post - Container gardening for kids

If you’re looking to tear your children away from the XBOX or PlayStation, gardening could be the answer. A great choice for little ones is container gardening, which involves sowing and maintaining plants in one pot.
There are lots of benefits to container gardening. If you live in a city or a built-up area, the size of your garden could be limited. Regardless of your outdoor space, this option allows every home, from built-up high-rises to tiny terraces, to stretch their green fingers.

Rather than giving them the whole garden to contend with, the small size of the containers will provide your kids with a manageable plot to work on. It is something they can call their own and be proud of.

Another benefit of container gardening is that it requires minimal equipment. All you need is a few plant pots, some soil and seeds and you are good to go. Although these may be difficult to find at your local supermarket now, specialist gardening retailers stock a great range of essentials all year round. Alternatively you could find what you are looking for online.

Just like your kids, you’ll be really proud of their work and want to show off the pots in your garden. Placing them in an overgrown, unkempt garden will not do them justice though. While the wild winter weather is here, it may not be wise to start your garden renovations right now, but once the spring arrives, it will be the perfect time to transform your garden for summer.

Trying to renovate your garden yourself can be a lot of hard work, especially if you have to fit it around your day job. However, specialist gardening companies like YouGarden can take this stress away from you, transforming even the smallest of spaces. Take a look at their portfolio and see for yourself.

The great thing about container gardening is that you don’t have to wait for the good weather to roll around and can start doing it right away. Take a look at this guide to gardening in December for what you can plant now, and move your containers into a greenhouse or conservatory for protection against the cold.

Written by Karl Black

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Having trouble finding gardening tools for children?

If you are considering a gardening project with children either at school or with your own child it is important that you choose tools suitable for the age and child of the child. Don't expect a child to become enthusiastic about gardening if they are struggling with either oversized tools or ones more suitable for making sand castles on the beach.

On my website - here -  I have some advice on choosing child friendly tools.
Spotty Green Frog is a site that specialises in providing gardening packs for schools as well as individual items and gift packs for your own child.

They also provide kits and equipment to support other gardening related activities click here.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Free fruit trees for schools in Yorkshire & Lancashire

Fruitshare  have an extremely limited number of additional free apple trees to giveaway to schools in the Yorkshire and Lancashire region.

Hurry click here if you want to have any chance of grabbing some.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Want to grow fruit trees at school?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has launched a new project to inspire children to grow fruit trees at school. The project was launched launched during the new Channel 4 series River Cottage to the Core
The offer of free fruit trees to schools produced such a huge demand that the trees had all been snapped up quickly after the announcement was aired during the first programme.

If you missed out on the free trees FruitShare has developed a project called Crowdfunder designed to help you raise funds in order to buy your trees.
The Fruitshare website also has produced a series of videos to take you through the process of growing fruit and also how to use your crops. Click here

The Woodland Trust have also joined the project and have produced a free guide to advise on planting and growing your trees.
They also offer free resources covering everything from planting guides, twig ID sheets, teacher support, pupil worksheets, fascinating facts and curriculum links.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Thinking of starting a school vegetable patch?

If you are considering starting a school vegetable patch then the video below produced by may give you some ideas.

Online Garden Planning Tool

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Get to know your garden birds

The start of a new school years isn't exactly the best time to start a gardening project but for one gardening related focus why not concentrate on the birds that visit your patch?

When I was teaching I was amazed that my class of 11 year olds didn't even notice the birds, that were all too easily visible almost every day of their lives, let alone be able to name any. To them the word bird and sparrow seemed synonymous.

Then one of our cleaners referred to a pied wagtail as a baby magpie and was surprised to learn that young birds were not tiny replicas of their parents.

Why not have a go at plugging this knowledge gap and maybe triggering a lifelong interest in watching the birds.

There are many bird related garden activities that you can carry out through winter. This page of my website has some ideas.

I've also put together some pages on my gardening website that includes a printable sheet of photographs to help you teach children (and adults) how to identify some of our most common garden birds. 
If you don't work in a school then try a bird related gardening project with your own children or maybe you would like to be better at identifying our common birds yourself. All the photographs are taken in my garden, I always find real photographs are much more helpful than artist's illustrations. I hope my photos help.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Planning school gardening projects and guest posts from schools

When I was teaching some part of my summer school break (notice that I don't use holiday) was spent planning for the coming term.

If you are planning work on a school gardening project then you may find this area of my website to be of use It covers various aspects involved in the planning of a school garden area whether it is a vegetable plot, a sensory garden or a haven for wild life.
It also covers choosing equipment and things to grow.

If you already have a school vegetable patch then the section covering what to do in September may be helpful.

Then you will need to consider how gardening activities can be linked into other curriculum areas so try looking at the section devoted to building curriculum links.

You may be planning to incorporate different opportunities for your pupils/students to share their literacy skills. Being a published writer is very motivational and many schools now have their own blogs and websites. If you don't want to go that far - why not get the children to prepare a guest post for this blog or an article to submit for inclusion into this section of my website. Obviously I can't include articles from every child in your class but you could whittle down submissions by having an in house choosing session first. Young children could submit a group post of either short phrases or art work linked to their growing experiences.

Any gardening related topic will be considered but you may prefer to email me first to check whether your choice of subject matter is appropriate. Please note that I will not include photos of individual children (or full names) and schools should ensure that any group photo has the appropriate parental permissions to be published. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Guest Post - 3 Ways to Get Schoolchildren Interesting in Gardening

You might have seen recent news about the suggestion of banning packed meals in school in favour of freshly-prepared school dinners. Although I’m unsure how successful this will be, I strongly agree that eating proper cooked meals at school is much healthier and more beneficial to children in many aspects.

One thing that can help schools to provide these quality meals within their current budget is school gardening, which is also a fantastic activity for the pupils to learn about the environment, plant biology and just how much work goes into preparing the food on their plate each day! It can also be an indirect way of encouraging school children to eat a cooked meal at lunchtime, if they helped grow the vegetables themselves.

While many kids will be intrigued by the idea of gardening for the first time, more often than not they’ll get bored quickly. So how can we keep the children’s interest in school gardening and motivate them to do it continuously? 

Here, I would like to introduce you to three simple but effective methods…

1.       Giving responsibility and flexibility
One of the most effective ways to motivate children in any topic is by giving responsibility. Like every human being, when given individual or shared responsibility, children will feel valued and motivated to succeed.

Teachers can offer each kid, (or if space is limited a group), a small garden bed that only belongs to him/her/them, and give them the right and responsibility to choose their own seeds or bulbs from a list of common vegetables. The variety of choices and their individual care needs can also increase the knowledge the pupils gain from gardening, since each child can be given the chance to give a short presentation to the rest of the class about what they chose to plant and what that plant needed to grow.

Teachers can also allow children to make their own watering, pest monitoring and weeding plans. If they’re older, you can even carry out chemistry experiments to determine the soil type of their individual area to better help them choose what to plant

2.       Be creative
From watering cans to spades, bring them into art class and let children do what they like with them.  Children are extremely creative and when you’re 10 years old, gardening is ten times better when you have a rainbow-coloured shovel to do it with!

Teachers can also plan art or biology lessons for the students to draw what they think their plants would look like after various amounts of time. This can keep the children excited and interested in gardening after they’ve planted their seeds and are while waiting for results, which is when they are most likely to lose interest.
3.       Reward them from time to time
There are many ways of rewarding during the course of gardening, and it is not always necessary to choose the best gardeners. Hand out rewards for first-to-flower, tastiest tomatoes, best-maintained garden and even most creative vegetable arrangement!

Let the parents know about your school gardening events and invite them in when it’s time to harvest. Make that day a big event, and show off everyone’s work in front of all the parents, teachers and students.

Also, let them enjoy the final result for longer. Make a photography book for the flowers or plants they gardened and put up a board in the dinner hall announcing exactly whose vegetables the school is eating each day.

By this, your pupils will feel their hard work is being valued and gain a sense of achievement. Next time you ask who wants to garden with you, you might see an awful lot of arms being raised up!

About the Author: Jessie Wang is a freelance writer who blogs about gardening, education and leading an eco-friendly lifestyle. You can contact her by email.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Free School Grow Your Own salad Kits

The British Leafy Salads Association have a Grow Your Own Salad initiative which is aimed at primary aged children.

The intention is to open children’s eyes as to where their food comes really from.

This year they are offering, on a first come first served basis, a limited number of free salad growing kits to primary schools.

Registration is open so you can order up to three free kits per school which will be available for use in the autumn term. Click here

If you miss out on the kits you can access the free worksheets here

The kits include worksheets, growing instructions and an interactive whiteboard activity.

Why not have a go at growing salads with your class and then let us know how you get on

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from The School Vegetable Patch author S I Garrettt

Friday, 14 June 2013

Teaching Kids Gardening

The lives of children could be radically improved by teaching them horticultural skills and encouraging them to get active in the garden.
That’s the conclusion of a study commissioned by leading gardening charity The Royal Horticultural Society – and with the subject to be potentially included in the National Curriculum from September 2014, it looks like the next generation might leave school with the skills to tend a garden and grow their own vegetables.
If approved, the revised National Curriculum will see all pupils between the ages of five and 14 taught how to “cultivate plants for practical purposes, such as food or displays”, as well as how to plan and prepare healthy and wholesome meals.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from The School Vegetable Patch author S I Garrettt

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Planning a Wildlife Garden

By creating a wild life garden you are not just providing a much needed habitat for our native wild life but you are also creating an outdoor classroom where children can learn about the creatures that share our outdoor spaces. Children have a healthy fascination when it comes to other living things and enjoy watching and learning about all types of creatures. Using an outdoor classroom you can ensure that this learning takes place with respect for the creatures being studied.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from The School Vegetable Patch author S I Garrettt

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Guest Bloggers

Do you have connection with a school garden? I so would you or your pupils like to be a guest blogger on this blog.

All it needs is for you to produce a short post with at least one photo on the theme of school gardening and I will consider posting it here or on my website here 

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from The School Vegetable Patch author S I Garrettt

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Schools' Birdwatch

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When I was teaching I was often amazed by how few garden birds my class of eleven year old children could recognise. 

Each year the RSPB organise a series of Birdwatch events some of which are directed at schools. These events provide an ideal opportunity to familiarise children with the species of birds that share their local environment. 

This year, Big Schools' Birdwatch will take place in the two weeks from 21 January - 1 February 2013. You can carry out a Birdwatch in any hour within those weeks.

The RSPB provide a range of resources geared to different age groups from the under fives to fourteen year olds.

When working with younger children who may soon lose interest and would be unable to sit a watch for a full hour you could organise small groups of children with an adult to 'work' in short shifts.

Schools entering results of surveys will be entered into a draw and have the chance to win a prize for there school too.

If you are a parent and would like to take part in a Bird Watch event then you could enter the Big Garden Birdwatch with you child. This takes place on the weekend of 27 and 27 January. Again you just need an hour to spare. 

If you start observing the birds now you may be able to judge when the birds are most likely to visit and time your activity for the to ensure that the children have something to record.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from The School Vegetable Patch author S I Garrett