Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Week 11

Enviromental Week

As part of our Enviromental week, we're having extended gardening club time. Just as well really because the recent heat-wave has brought eveything on at a pace. Two weeks ago, this tree in the Enviromental Garden was laden with blossom. Now it is hanging onto those last blooms desperately as the majority lay in a thick pink carpet around it's roots.

If you listen hard enough, you can hear the faint cheeping of baby birds. I sat for a while, camera posed to see what birds they might be, and within minutes a Great Tit flew out. So fast was it, that for the life of me I couldn't get a decent shot. Each group of children who came to potter around in the garden this afternoon sat a while to watch the parents flit in and out of the bird box. A real treat.

The recent heat-wave has lowered the level of our pond quite considerably, making the spotting of our tadpoles much easier.

Also brought on by the warmer weather, and nestled safely in our coldframe, we have Sunflowers which will be recycled as the seeds of the spent blooms will provide a rich source of food for our bird table in the colder months. Sweet Peas for their scent of course and Pumpkins which we hope will be ready for our Halloween Disco. All will be ready for planting out after Spring Break, weather permitting.

We had a delivery recently of some young tree saplings. Among them were Holly, Dog Rose and Hawthorn. As they were in need of a drink, they have been left overnight to soak, ready for KS2 to plant them during the rest of Enviromental Week.

In the meantime, there were potatoes to earth up. They had certainly been making the most of the warmer weather and have reached the top of their containers. The compost was added, and the pupils found watering them a pleasure, naturally.

In the Infant's courtyard, the foliage of the spent Spring Bulbs had to be cut down. We've actually added more compost to these long troughs and planted our French Beans, Lettuce and some of the Nasturtiums.

The remainder of the Nasturtiums have been planted and placed close to the beans as a companion plant. This should attract aphids away from them. Marigolds have been planted for the same reason, although we intend on planting them with our tomatoes.
In the 'wheel' we have so far sown carrots and some more lettuce. After the half term holiday, we shall sow our herbs in the remaining three hubs.
We have arranged all our pots and containers in this area for now as it is nearer the outside tap. for our lovely Caretaker who will tend to them over the holiday for us.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Week 10

The Great Plant Hunt Week 17-22 May 2010

A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place.

Today the Busy Beez went on a jolly, joining other primary schools across the UK for The Great Plant Hunt Week. In this mass observation study looking for ten common plants, our Beez searched in the open spaces and hedgerows which our school is lucky to be surrounded by.

The first to be spotted, and lets face it you can't miss them at the moment, was the humble Dandelion. A hardy perennial whose flowers are light-sensitive, opening in the early morning and closing in the evening or in gloomy weather. The name Dandelion comes from the French 'dents de lion' (teeth of the lion). At this time of the year Dandelions are extremely invasive, but they are an important source of nectar for our precious bees.
In folklore, it is said that if you blow the fluffy seedheads of the flower away in one go it will make a wish come true. Another tale is that it can tell you the time by the amount of puffs it takes to blow away the 'clock'.

On the bank by the nursery playground, our hunters found Bellis Perennis, or Daisy. This tiny flower is a favourite among the girls who make chains with them. The name daisy originates from the Anglo-Saxon word 'daes eage' which translates to 'days eye', referring to the flower opening at dawn.
It was said that in Roman times, bandages were soaked in the astringent juices of the daisies and applied to the wounds of the soldiers.

Among the other plants hunted down were Sorrel also known as dockweed, the leaves the broad-leaved variety are often used as a soothing treatment for stinging nettles. Fortunately these two plants often grow close together.

The flowers of the Elder were next. The strong-smelling foliage of the Elder was once hung on the mane of horses to help keep flies at bay. These days the flowers and berries are used for medicine and culinary purposes.

Among the masses and masses of dandelions and speedwell we spotted our next flower. Garlic Mustard is a favourite food of the pieris napi butterfly, and the perfect home for laying their eggs. The flowers are often pollenated by midges, which may be why we were so bothered by them on our walk.

We have a strong suspicion that some of the flowers have yet to appear due to the late season. These elusive blooms include the red clover, self-heal, silver birch and white campion. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the UK report their findings, and compare them to our own.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Week 9

May has been quite a disappointment so far. This week we've had some pretty sharp showers during the daytime, and the night time temperatures have been below freezing. Fortunately, our young plants are safe and warm in the greenhouse at home.
We have had the go-ahead now for the positioning of the Busy Beez greenhouse - a patch of land between the junior playground and the Enviromental Garden. We're just waiting now for the base to be laid. Fingers crossed this will be before the half term break at the end of this month.

In the Junior beds, our perennial herbs are flowering, much to the delight of passing insects

The Beez have been busy again this week. Our potatoes are growing really well, and these needed covering up again. Our main job however was to move the compost bin from one side of the Enviromental Garden to the other AND all it's contents - eugh. Lovely. I think we'll leave it there.

Staying in the Enviromental Garden, we have a magnificent tree in full bloom. Quite breathtaking!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Week 8

SATS are looming, but the growing doesn't appreciate these things. The weather shall we say has been changeable, and so cold at times you could be forgiven for thinking it was March again!
The daffodils are still doing their upmost to drag the season along, but there is a bit of a lull in the Shooter's Grove gardens. We have had some pretty cold nights up here so most of the young plants are still being cosseted in my greenhouse, and the coldframe.

Unfortunately, these plants do need to be potted up to give the plants some room to grow and some air to circulate if they are to thrive. If left in their seedling trays they would become overcrowded, and botrytis grey mould will soon take a hold. This could very well wipe out the whole of your seasons crop if allowed to develop.

The best of the lettuce has been transplanted into larger modules. They look a little limp here, but once they've recovered from being potted up, they'll perk back up.

These are our marigold seedlings

And here we have recently potted up dahilas, tomatoes and some of the marigolds.

Lets hope the next couple of weeks will bring better conditions so we can prepare the containers to plant out the hardiest of our crops!