As we'd all realize, embracing a gardening option in January 2017 is hard yakka. With the heat ++++... it isn't a great beginning to a school year project.
So we've had to make do and improvise.
With mainly the lower grades to take through the gardening and food experience, every first term is about training in the basic gardening skills -- like watering and planting a seed.
So far so good...
But we have such big plans.
In one section of the patch we are asking the children to bring pineapple tops from home so we can establish our own mini 'Pineapple Plantation'. Most of the beds are still covered with weed mat but the pineapple program has been married to planting out pawpaws, grown from seed, so the kids can get a sense of the seasons and fruiting.
In the shade tunnel we are growing corn, loofahs, cucumbers and sunflowers from seed. All these plants grow from big seeds which are easier to handle for the young 'uns. As the weather cools we'll introduce squashes like zucchini and pumpkins. Big seeds too.
When to start planting established seedlings we'll purchase at the markets, is a decision we need to make soon as the term is only so long. I'm hoping to do a densely planted green salad bed with a throw over of shade cloth. And follow that up the with a bed of Tommy Toes.
Meanwhile one bed is to soon be planted out with sweet potato slips as we had such a good crop last year.In one corner, we hope to do a session on aloe vera and plant out a few of these succulents -- out of the way, because of the sharp edges -- as a sort of herbal exercise.
The corn and loofah seeds we planted are earmarked for a patch here and there, but the sunflowers have a different function. Always popular with the kids, the big project this year is our school maze and I'm hoping to line up the sunflowers in a pattern the children can walk about in and interact with.
Then as I increase the number of Vetiver Grass slips I generate at home, we'll turn the sunflower maze slip by slip into a perennial Vetiver Maze. That's a project for the whole year ahead. A tanatalizing walk through maze which also serves as a source of mulch for the garden beds.The Vetiver International Network wants us to log our experiment with progress photographs.
Among the sunflowers -- in order to 'protect' them from cockatoos and add glee -- I'll make up another 2-3 scarecrows like we did last year. The scarecrows are made from mops or brooms. We already have three.
Generally we've started the year with a dead and doldrum garden. The beds, covered in black weedmat, make it seem like a morgue -- but as the weeks tick over all these children -- 9 grades all up-- are set to animate it, plant by plant.
That's the big plan for me.The seasons. The garden year. Harvest festivals each term. Produce distribution to the children and school community.
In the mix, the visiting school chef uses our veg and herbs for reward cooking sessions and the tuck shop will offer 'from-the-school-garden' ingredient lunches.
While the grades visit only one day a week, maintenance in way of watering is the responsibility of the special needs kids who visit to chill out.
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