Not sure what to do when?

Friday, 29 January 2010

Add flowers to your vegetable patch.

You may have heard gardeners talk about companion planting. This practice is based on the belief by many gardeners that certain plant groupings are in some way beneficial.

There is much argument as to whether some aspects of this belief has any scientific basis. An investigation into whether certain plant combinations work or not could form an interesting investigation for children to undertake; for instance do nasturtiums attract aphids away from broad beans or do marigolds repel whitefly away from tomatoes.

There is little doubt, however that flowers do attract beneficial insects which can only be a good thing. They provide another dimension to a vegetable patch. Not only by providing colour and the opportunity to study insects at close quarters but also by providing a crop of cut flowers for the classroom.

If you have space a patch of native wild flowers is especially effective in supporting a range of indigenous insects. A patch of nettles tucked away in a corner will provide a food plant for many butterfly caterpillars (don't worry not cabbage whites!) and the leaves (not roots) can be used on the compost heap. Also a patch of grass that is allowed to form seed heads attracts many insects. To provide a food supply for as many insects as possible you need to choose different shapes of flowers e.g. tube shapes and daisy shapes.and also have some flowers that grow throughout the season.

More information is available if you click here

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Big School Birdwatch

When I first started teaching I was amazed at how my class of 9 year old children couldn't even identify the most common of garden birds. Some thought that the smaller birds were babies and the larger ones were the mums and dads.

The Big Schools' Birdwatch provides an opportunity to help children appreciate the birds that they probably see every day but don't even notice. There is also special activity in which nursery children can get involved - Little Schools' Birdwatch

Click on the links to find out more, even if you don't take part in the Birdwatch you will find lots of ideas, activities and resources to use with children.

Although the Birdwatch started on 18 January it isn't too late to join in!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Guzzler - a Talking Story

Guzzler - Talking Story- (Windows only)

Aimed at KS1 (6 - 7 year olds) but could be used with Lower KS2 especially children learning difficulties.

Although not exactly a garden pig this resource would link in with a vegetable growing project.

Guzzler is a pig with a flaw in his character - he eats anything he can get his snout onto. But one day he goes too far and has to be taught a lesson.

The text employs repetition and provides opportunity to study how the vocabulary used conveys what the characters are feeling.

A PDF version is provided which can be printed for children to read away from the computer. This provides opportunity to compare electronic and paper based books. The talking story provides an opportunity for the children to become familiar with the use of an electronic text.

Guzzler is a fully illustrated and narrated talking story which can be used with a whole class, small group or by individual children.

The narration is activated by a sound button on each page. For children needing support with their reading they can attempt to read without the narration and then use the narration to check their accuracy or they can play the narration and listen before attempting to read unsupported.

As the narration is playing the words being spoken are highlighted in red.

Each page requires the reader to click on animal or object to activate a sound. To exit the story, at any point, tap the escape button on your keyboard.

Click here to read more

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Free Potato Growing Kits for Schools

The potato council are offering free potato growing kits to schools who register with them. The kits include supporting lesson plans and worksheets and for a chance to win prizes for your school by entering a competition once you have harvested your crops.

The website also has free resources and information focusing on growing and cooking potatoes. Click here to visit their website.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Have you noticed any difference?

I have been working on tidying up this blog and also slightly adapting the template to give a wider publishing area. It's always a nervous moment when you enter the world of HTML but I don't think any disaster has occurred yet!!

Hope that you think there has been an improvement!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Harrod Horticultural Offer 10% discount on some items to our visitors

Harrod Horticultural are continuing to offer 10% discount on their range of timber raised beds and netting etc for anyone ordering from them after linking from any of my Harrod links from this blog and sister blogs and websites.
To qualify you must also quote Green Lane at the checkout.
Harrod have increased their range of timber raised beds. These include some triangular, and manger shaped structures as well as some raised on legs. To view their range of raised beds click here

For their range of garden netting and materials click here

Monday, 11 January 2010

Introduce ICT into the School Vegetable Patch

For a couple of years now we have used the Grow Veg online planner to plan out our plot. This is a simple to use planning tool that could be used at all levels in school as well as for adult gardeners.

With it is easy to draw out your garden plan and decide how best to plant it. You will need to create a plan of your plot so that you can work out what you will grow and where. You will need to take into account that some plants will need more space than others and also consider which plants will grow together and what the needs of each type of plant are. In other words learn as much as you can about the plants that you intend to grow.The planning tool clearly shows how much space plants require and how to group them for maximum success, removing the need to look up planting distances and crop families.
It also alerts you if you try and grow a similar crop in the same position in subsequent years. Plans can be printed. As well as offering an online planning tool for a small annual subscription of £15/€17 (There is a North American version too) the website has advice and tips for growing all types of vegetables.

This planning tool has proved very popular in some schools and a school licence is available which allows a single account to be used by multiple pupils or groups of pupils in a class. This is basically the same as a single-user account but is marked for concurrent access. It costs £25 per year (which can be invoiced to the school if required). The teacher will usually set up the plan for the garden as a template that they then copy over for each child/group. The pupils are all logged on to the same account but open the plan allotted to them so that they don't save over each other's work. Setting it up this way enables the teacher to log on and get access to all the pupils' plans after the class. For more information use the contact button on their website. Please refer to this website when you do so.
Online Garden Planning Tool

A demo of the online planner can be viewed on their website and if you fancy having a go a 30 free trial is also available. To learn more click on the banner below. 

More suggestions for ICT activities are available on my website here

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Choosing what herbs to grow

The suggestions for which herbs you may choose to grow on your vegetable patch are now completed on the website click here

Herbs are a sort of half way house between flowers and vegetables. As well as having scented foliage, many have attractive flowers and variegated leaves. A herb garden can be ornamental as well as productive. Herbs can be mixed in amongst other ornamental or food plants; they can be grown in containers or in a patch devoted to growing herbs. Herbs are ideal plants for the sensory garden as not only can they contribute a mixture of flavours and scents but many have a particular texture.

Many herbs flowers are much loved by butterflies and bees so a herb patch can encourage biodiversity in your vegetable patch and encourage beneficial insects which in turn will pollinate fruit or help keep insect pests under control.

The word herb has various definitions, on this page the term herb is used to describe a plant grown for flavouring, scent or medicinal purpose.

Growing herbs in a school garden is especially appropriate as many plants date back to the beginnings of civilisation and can be linked to a study of a particular historical period. Herbs were used in the courts of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Ancient Egyptians used herbs for medicinal purpose and also in the embalming process. Ancient peoples believed some herbs had magical properties and they were used to protect from evil and in rituals. Each herb had a special significance or power attributed to it. Herbs have even been used as currency.

Through the ages herbs continued to be used medicinally as some still are today. They were also used to flavour food especially when food became tainted during storage. Not only would use of herbs mask unpleasant tastes but was thought to act as a disinfectant on particularly bad meat. Herbs were burned as a fumigant. Bad smells were often associated with disease and herbs were used to mask odours. To fulfil this, aim herbs would be stuffed into keyholes and shoes or herb bags would be worn from a belt. They have also been used as ingredients in dyes and cosmetics.

In the 16 and 17 century herb gardens became popular in cottages, castles, and monasteries although wild herbs were considered to be more powerful than cultivated ones. Herb women and root gatherers made a living collecting herbs growing wild in the countryside. Some of these women were persecuted and tried as witches. Herbs were also grown by apothecaries in physic gardens.

Friday, 8 January 2010

February Gardening Calendar added

I have added the suggested activities for February to the web site Click here

Where we live in West Yorkshire the gardening season doesn't really get going until March but there are things that you can do if you are desperate to get started. This will mostly be preparation and planning work but in some milder areas it may be possible to start sowing and planting. Refer to seed packets and information about the climate in your area. Generally speaking there is no mad rush to get seeds in as those sown a bit later soon catch up and often overtake earlier sowings. If the weather continues as it is there will be no decision to make!

Do remember to look after wildlife when conditions are bad.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

And ... when is a currant not a currant?

Answer - When it is a grape!

Children - well I suppose adults do too - may confuse blackcurrants and the dried currants using in baking. These are not currants at all but are dried grapes. TheBlack Corinth grapes used are a very small, sweet, seedless, black grape from Greece.

Currants and gooseberries belong to the same family of plants called Ribes. Several ornamental plants also belong to the same family.

They are fairly easy to grow and require a similar methods of cultivation. A relatively new introduction to the family is a jostaberry which is a cross between a blackcurrant and a gooseberry.

I have now completed the page on the website about currants and gooseberries click here

Monday, 4 January 2010

When is a fruit not a fruit?

Answer - when it is a strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or rhubarb!

Fruits such as raspberries and blackberries are really bundles of tiny fruits clustered together. The raspberry has a hollow core so when you picked it is quite fragile. On the other hand blackberries have a sold core and are more robust fruits. Raspberries and blackberries are closely related and many hybrid berries have been created by crossing them and their offspring.

Each strawberry has on average 200 seeds. The part that we eat is technically not a fruit but a swollen stem and the things which look like seeds are all individual fruits each with a seed inside.

Although we refer to it as fruit, rhubarb isn't a fruit at all. It is an herbaceous perennial. We eat the stems of the rhubarb but it is considered to be a fruit as this is how it is generally used.

Choosing berries and rhubarb page is now completed on the website. Click here