Our organic garden was started in 2016 when we fundraised and erected a commercial size polytunnel. The transition year students constructed raised beds that year and our growing began. Since then we have added a beautiful wildflower garden, three raised outdoor beds. We have planted a woodland with about 100 trees grown from seed by our own students and in 2020 we added a new composting area complete with three bay compost system, a box wormery, leaf mould composters and a small enclosed composting bin.
The garden is used and enjoyed by the whole school community, it is primarily maintained by the transition year students as part of their Agricultural Science and Science courses and also by the Garden Club which is open to all students and is held once a week after school on Thursdays. A committed group of school staff and volunteers run a garden committee that plan and help in the day to day activities.
Tasks depend on the time of year of course and many are weather dependent. The students learn about planning the growing season, preparing beds and pots for planting, using organic principles to fertilise the soil and for pest and disease control.
This is the time of year for bulb planting we have almost 200 tulips along with dozens of garlic and winter onion bulbs already planted and we are working to plant daffodils today. It is also a good time to save seeds and we have several fruit and vegetable plants as well as flowers which can be used for this purpose. We will be planting right throughout the winter including early potatoes in January but the spring is the main planting time. We grow all kinds of vegetables and fruit, tomatoes, beans, corn, beetroot, peppers, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, spinach, chard, herbs and many many more.
We also collect leaves for our leaf mould composter this time of year, it takes up to three years for the leaves to decompose. We are currently in year two of this process and hope to have usable leaf mould compost to use next spring for sowing our seeds. Some of the leaves will be used for our compost heap as it forms the brown layer necessary for efficient composting.
Maintenance of the garden involves weeding, planting, pruning of our trees and willow “fedge”. Bringing in manure and seaweed to the beds , watering when required. Harvesting the produce when its ready is very exciting. Cleaning and tidying the tunnel. Adding to and turning the compost, At Christmas we make wreaths and decorations to sell and in the spring we grow vegetable and flower plants from seed to plant in the school garden and some extra to sell to our school community all funds that are raised are used in the upkeep and improvement of the garden. In short there is always something to do in the garden but many hands make light work and outdoor activities are so much safer at the moment.