KC - what a bunch of troopers!

The last 2 weeks in the garden with Mrs Cowan and her lovely bunch of kids was such fun. 

For the first week we were short of parents which meant that there could be no kitchen. A nudge to all those who think about putting their names down for such things and forget - do it!! They all looked so disappointed when it almost didn't go ahead. Not enough adult supervision in the kitchen with knives and grating and general foody stuff is not the optimum combination. No one wants a finger gyoza right. Urgh! 

So in that week we had dads Paul and Tim who were dead keen to do stuff and of course the green warrior goddess Mrs Cowan and after deftly dividing the class up into four groups we were off and digging. The kids proved themselves not only willing but caring. I don't think anything that didn't deserve to be trodden on was and those weeds didn't stand a chance!

Amongst the delicious Misticanza Lettuce were lots of tiny weeds, all carefully dealt with by these guys

Amongst the delicious Misticanza Lettuce were lots of tiny weeds, all carefully dealt with by these guys

In the last two weeks we've planted Beetroots, Red Pak Choy, Eggplant and one Tomato plant. We also found a mysterious self seeded tomato plant growing in amongst the middle bed. Anything like that with initiative is fine with me. Unlike the Chinese Cabbage that was decimated by some furtive grub in the midnight hours - they had to go. Bad for the morale of the beetroots and carrots growing nearby. The garden in general has flourished in the last little while. Must have been all that watering it didn't get over the holidays! The top bed of the three has two very promising rows of baby Carrots and Leeks as well as an abundance of Lettuce. The broad beans are doing well. Tim and the kids strung up some support posts for them that any climber would be jealous of and if they can't make a go of it now, then they don't deserve to be there.

Our sensible Beetroot planters

Our sensible Beetroot planters

The beloved compost probably got the most attention and care it ever has, again under dad Tim's excellent guidance, and it smells wonderful. The kids really got to see what kinds of things go in there and how the turning all works. It's very interesting to see what we can unearth from the bottom, not least all the various little creatures having a grand time eating themselves silly. 

looking good in there...

Dad Paul wrangled his own little group in the top garden bed and had them watering, stringing up bean posts and weeding. Even the non vege garden got some attention. The kids were loving their gloves and trowels and of course what kid doesn't love wielding a hose? Or a watering can. In the second week they mulched and enjoyed picking the lettuce, giving it a quick wash and eating it straight from the garden. I wonder how many city kids get to do that..?

funny...

funny...

Mrs Cowan took tons of great pics and encouraged and guided the kids to really get into it. I think everyone had a really good time and the garden looks pretty happy with itself. In the second week, KC's substitute teacher Alex was great with the kids and knew a thing or two about what should go where.

Kindy kids are very keen in the garden, they love the idea of planting things even if they don't know exactly what vegetable it is. With the help of some wonderful parents - thanks Paul, Tim and Lara - the kids had two lovely days in the sun and dirt. They got to talk about what we're growing, what veges taste like and try their hand at some authentic and important garden care. Hopefully over time they'll get to see the results of their contribution and come to appreciate that it's a wonderful thing to be part of the cycle of the garden. 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting actual veges in the garden with 1/2B

This is written some weeks after the garden days with 1/2B but I still might write as if it happened today or yesterday if that's okay!

So, potatoes. Be they ready or not, they were going in the ground. Tons of them. Some ready for the earth and some (most) were ready to be made into delicious chippies or mash. But again, they afforded much rewarding digging time and presented themselves as a far more exciting prospect than teeny tiny seeds that don't at all resemble what they might - the gods willing - turn out to be. 

The plan was to let them be planted and then dig them up and replace them with more suitable contenders later on but we couldn't remember where they all were and I'm happy to say that I think some of the unlikeliest spuds have indeed proved themselves worthy and sprouted! Don't ask me what varieties they are - they are enthusiastic and doing their thing and that's good enough for me. Plus the kids so enjoyed doing it. I hope when the time comes they get see the results of all that determination.

Ah weeding...

Ah weeding...

We had the help of Angela and Charmaine in the vege patch and Gayu and Sarah McMaster in the top garden who had the unenviable job of digging up weeds and planting the pear trees. I notice those weeds are starting to creep back so we should do some mulching soon ... anyone??

In the kitchen they made pasties with the broccolini and pak choy from the garden one week and in the next it was rice paper rolls with beetroot also from the garden. It was lovely to cut those gorgeous heads of broccolini, they looked all proper and shop like and can I say that Pak Choy is the vegetable that keeps on giving. The leaves are so strong and dark green yet the flavour is subtle and delicious. Plus they are pretty to look at and after being picked they just keep on sprouting more leaves, all as good as the ones before.

Broccolini gone. Feeling bereft but proud...

Broccolini gone. Feeling bereft but proud...

Our beetroot was the pip squeak of the group but tasted perfectly acceptable. I really don't know why some veges go great guns and others just lag behind. Could be the seedlings, the watering or whatever encouragement they do or don't get. I do wonder if the bottom vege bed gets a bit of extra watering from all the excess water than runs down. Who knows but that bed is very fertile it seems.

All those lovely leaves from Mt Wilson have started to break down

All those lovely leaves from Mt Wilson have started to break down

We also planted some Spring Onions, Chinese Cabbage, Broad Beans, Snow Peas and Bok Choy. We weeded everywhere and mulched and composted and generally had a good time. 

And a tasty snack or two at the end of it. Lovely.

 

 

 

 

KW in the Garden

Last week of Autumn

The weather was so lovely this morning for digging in the dirt. It was nice to have the sun on our backs before the weather changed and winter made itself known this afternoon.

Kids: " The sun's in our eyes"     Mr Watt " Don't worry about that. Just say cheese!"

Kids: " The sun's in our eyes"     Mr Watt " Don't worry about that. Just say cheese!"

We had a quick turnaround today with one group of kids doing gardening for an hour while the others made sushi and then we swapped over. The first group were a little unsure about putting on the gardening gloves as they had dirt in them - who would've thought! - while in the second group there were kids who couldn't see the point of wearing gloves at all and were happy to feel the soil. They were all keen however, to dig up whatever needed - or in some cases not needed - to be dug up. 

First on the list were weeding and composting. There is never a shortage of weeding enthusiasts. Maybe it's the pleasure of picking and pulling at things without having to be furtive that gets them in every time. It's a satisfying past time. Well for 10 minutes anyway.

Lovely compost

Lovely compost

Composting assistance usually takes some persuading and generally gets less takers. It's gross you see. All that old food and those decomposing leaves. Except that it's not really. The compost doesn't smell bad at all, just earthy. You should stick your nose in there from time to time to breathe in the scent of nature. It's the opposite of all things city.

Weeding and preparing the garden bed for leeks

Weeding and preparing the garden bed for leeks

This week we had a fantastic mixture of leaves from Mt Wilson in the Blue Mountains and some organic veges given to us by a shop in Bondi Junction, who throw out tons of them everyday. I felt a little wasteful chopping them up as some were perfectly alright. Not bad in at all. Just not pretty. 

Anyway, after some more prodigious digging, we planted. Leeks, Carrots, Spinach, Broad Beans and Cima di Rapa, which is an interesting green leafy winter vegetable. It has a head a bit like a broccoli and is used in pasta dishes or eaten steamed with some garlic or chilli oil. Yum!

We had parents Nick and Francesca in the garden wielding trowels and encouragement. When those peas in the top garden start climbing up their teepees, they can thank Nick for their stringy support.

All the kids enjoyed their time gardening and they can definitely feel proud that they made a real contribution to the ongoing life of the garden.  I would venture that even Mr Watt who, though he confessed to not being a child of the earth, may have enjoyed himself just a little. 

Once our many tasks were completed - and indeed they were thanks to the hardworking KW and co - it was all topped off with some home grown sheep poo and a water.

 



As the garden grows.....
— Anon

May Garden Update - Introducing our Scarecrows

As the garden grows, so does the gardener
— Anon

We’ve been off to great start this year with the vege patch, busy weeding, planting and more weeding so that come spring we should have some wonderful veges to pick. Maybe even before that if we’re lucky!

First of all, with the help of Mr Buenen and years 5 and 6, we installed those two fine looking scarecrows. The kids stuffed and dressed them with lots of enthusiasm and, I would say, felt quite proud of their efforts, since they took them into numerous classes to show them off before we plonked them into their garden homes. Somebody does need to have a word with them though as they seem to have no effect on the ibis birds and they need to lift their game.

Also with Mr Buenen’s class we planted beetroots, onions, french tarragon, broccolini, thyme and rosemary. The kids seemed to really enjoy planting the seedlings and proved themselves to be quite adept at weeding. Mr B himself is quite knowledgable about the garden and was no slouch when to came to wielding a plough!

The second class to help out in the garden was 1/2 E with Mr Elms who also has a fantastic knowledge of the garden. It was really great to work with him and the kids had a lot of fun. Some kids really show an interest in the whole process and are very gentle when it comes to transplanting the seedlings. Some kids love to dig holes, some like to use the hose and watering cans and some love to squash slugs. Luckily these are all things that need to happen in the garden so there is plenty for everyone to do.

We’ve also been lucky to have some great parents working with us which makes for some extra fun and interest all round. Thanks to Tracy, Elizabeth and Fiona for their efforts. If, as a parent you have thought about helping out in the garden but have yet to get around to it, you really should give it a go. It’s relaxing, interesting and a nice way to spend some time in the sun with the kids. Plus...

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt
— Anon

What we're growing...

Anyway, so far in our vegetable gardens we are growing the following:
Misticanza Lettuce, Carrots, Beetroots, Onions, Fennel, Strawberries, Broccolini, Broccoli, Pak Choy, Silverbeet, Romaesque Cauliflower, Celery, Oregon Peas, a Bay Leaf Tree, Chives, Parsley, French Tarragon, Sage, Mint, Thyme, Basil, Snow Pea flowers, Violas and Marigolds. 

A lot of these vegetables are very young and need to be treated with care so that they may grow up. We have put paddle pop sticks in the dirt around the seeds so that the kids will know there is 
something there. I encourage the kids to inspect these areas carefully and regularly to see what is happening as it’s pretty exciting to see the first sign of life nudging its way through the soil. And according to someone who I suspect doesn't get much time to spend gardening...

To get the best results, you must talk to your vegetables
— Prince Charles

Worms...

And finally, just a little mention of worms. These are the great friends of the garden and one of life’s miracles. They help break down the food scraps in the compost and help keep the garden soil healthy and productive. Did you know that relative to their size, worms are roughly 1000 times stronger than humans? So if you see a worm in the garden, by all means have a respectful and admiring look and afterwards be sure to put it back in the soil where it can work its magic.

- Nina Field