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After School Gardening Club

Discussion in 'Primary' started by TA27, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. My school is just starting an after school gardening club for a mixed group of KS1 and KS2 children, has anybody had experience of running a gardening club who wouldn't mind sharing any ideas or good tips that could help with our planning for future sessions please?
  2. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Our parents run it. Kids grow veg and help keep the flower beds in school tidy.They have planted trees and created a wild area.Planning depends on the growing season and what you want to grow.
  3. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    I did a lunchtime club for 2 years. I did KS2 only and limited to max 14 children with one other adult helper. You'll need a thorough Risk Assessment to cover how you'll manage tool use, etc, but once that's done ...
    Double check when veg will crop. Expect to be inundated with well-meaning donations of courgette plants, which will take up lots of space and be due to harvest during the summer hol. Salad leaves are great for speed. This chart here is v useful for reference: http://www.allotment.org.uk/grow-your-own/sowing-harvesting-vegetables-chart#note
    Parsnips were spectacularly successful, with radish grown in between the rows as an quick catch crop (parsnips are v slow to germinate). Carrots were great too. There is something particularly magical for the chn to see crops lifted from the soil.
    If the patch can be weeded and watered (!) during the long summer hol, then do get a sweetcorn patch established to harvest in September. It was like Christmas as they unwrapped the cobs.
    Broad beans went really well - plant in Autumn to overwinter as small plants. Very easy to care for, good for small hands when sowing and a veg that they often will not otherwise try.
    Tomatoes in hanging baskets were fun, if someone can water daily. I tried an 'upside down' hanging planter - don't bother!
    Potatoes in old buckets with holes in the bottom are brilliant - just add more soil to earth it up. Makes harvesting easy and foolproof. Sign up for freebies here: http://gyop.potato.org.uk/
    Other good websites are:
    http://www.growingschools.org.uk/Resources/ResourcesLibrary.aspx for epic list of resources!
    Keep some rainy-day activities handy - making plant labels that can be laminated, making bird feeders, decorating terracotta plant pots with acrylic paint, planting up unusual containers to sell at the school fete (wellies, old shoes, paint tins with Smoothrite), planting bulbs in pots for Christmas (hyacinths can cause allergies so use gloves)
    Build a scarecrow in 2nd hand school uniform.
    Make a bug hotel. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces/images/wildaboutyourgarden_bp_bug_hotel.pdf
    I could go on and on! Good luck :)
  4. Thank you, we are in a newly built school with different areas that can be worked in including a balcony area with big planters. I believe the Head would like it to be run all through the school year. The club will be run by a teacher with possibly a parent helper. One thing we are wondering about is the ideal maximum numbers for the club as the age group ranges from Year 1 to Year 6. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
  5. EcoLady

    EcoLady New commenter

    I've written a long reply, which is apparently 'awaiting moderation'! I hope it's just because it was very long and full of links to useful sites ...
  6. Thanks Eco I will look forward to reading it when it comes through.
  7. karentee

    karentee New commenter

    I've run them, most successfully when a keen parent/governor/retired person has run in that they have had all the ideas and able to get resources etc together and I've been along as the person in charge. I've run them all year round but it got silly last winter when we were trying to garden after 4pm in the rain and dark. I think 30 minutes is quite long enough at the end of the day to do this, especially when there is sometimes little more to do than sweep up some leaves!
  8. Thank you Ecco and Karen for the great advice, I really appreciate the time you took to type
    out that long reply Ecco and will find all the info you gave very useful.
    Sorry for not coming on to thank you earlier , I had trouble logging back on to reply and have
    only just been able to phone Head Office to unblock me now that the school holidays have
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I've never run the club because there was a queue to do so, but have run several allotments.
    lots of the clubs seem to struggle to get things going until the spring.
    i would go straight in with planting spring bulbs, dafffs then tulips. overplant with overwintering flowers such as primulas and violas, pansies tend to get leggy and are better planted in late winter.
    also plant over wintering veg, onion sets for autumn planting, broad beans such as aquadulce which are trouble free (all the black fly are hibernating) and harvets early.
    Shallots (traditionally planted on boxing day!) easy for small hands.
    i remember as a youngster planting prepard hyacinth bulbs for a christmas present (but be aware of alerrgies and glove requirement)
    if you have space plant some rasperry canes, very very easy!
    worth looking online/mail order for mini plants that are much better value to buy, then the children can grow them on. the local pound shop often do good value bulbs as do the super markets.
    also worth contacting your local allotment society they probably run an old fashioned shop where you can buy shallots, onion sets, seed potatoes by weight. Worth taking some children to do the buying if you can.
  10. Thank you Hammie, that's all very useful especially about the raspberry canes as we went on a school trip to a walled kitchen garden recently and the children loved being allowed to pick and eat the raspberries in there.
  11. One great way I've seen a school garden done was half and half outdoor garden and container gardening. An outdoor garden is great during the spring but when school ends during the summer it is sometimes difficult to get people to continue to volunteer for upkeep. What I've seen done really well is doing as much planting as possible in containers (big pots that can be brought inside). You can send them home with families or staff over the summer and also keep them in the school foyer or something during the winter to continue to operate the club. Of course, outdoor gardens are nice too and you really only need a few volunteers to do both, so this is what I would recommend!

    Also, we were lucky enough when we got ours going to have a member of a horticultural society on our staff, who provided a lot of guidance. See if you can contact a local garden club or society and get some tips!
  12. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    "square yard" gardening might be worth researching on the internet?
    incidentally many allotmenteers can do very little watering due to no hose pipes etc. With a good mulch and good soil, most crops will do ok with little attention over the summer.
    So sweet corn, brassicas etc could be left with little attention over the summer, provided you net against pigeons and butterfly attack!

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