Get Growing with Faye

Welcome to my gardening corner, your one stop shop for growing ideas. Here is where you’ll find organic advice on what to grow, tasks to complete, activities for gardening and cooking clubs and how to link these with your Food for Life awards criteria. 

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Late Autumn is the perfect time to plant Garlic. Use organic garlic (local if possible) and plant the largest cloves 2.5 cm deep, 10cm apart in rows 20cm apart - save the smaller, inner cloves for cooking. One clove of Garlic will produce one whole bulb.

Redcurrant plants don’t need a lot of space or attention so are perfect for busy school gardeners. Plant a single cordon in a well prepared bed roughly 60cm wide, against a fence or wall. You could also grow them in pots for easy moveability.

Fancy something sweeter? Plant Raspberry canes 18 inches apart and prune well after planting.

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Autumn has arrived in full swing and I'm remembering again how beautiful this time of year is. As fallen leaves decorate the ground, why not make the most of nature’s givings and make some Leafmould - the perfect fertiliser to get your soil crop ready.  There are a few ways you can do this:

  • If you’ve got the space, make a square frame from 4 wooden stakes, chicken wire and a staple gun
  • If you're limited on space, then gather leaves in bin liners
  • If you’ve got the space but no materials, simply gather the leaves up into a pile and cover with a plastic sheet
Whatever your method, make sure you keep the leaves damp and don’t move them around too much as you want to encourage that very helpful fungus which breaks it all down. An easy, useful task which might earn you a few brownie points with your caretaker for having cleared the ground!

Squash Time! These bulky orange beauties are a popular choice in school gardens and many will be ready for harvesting. However, you should resist the temptation to get your squash simmering in the pot straight away and leave them in a cool, dry place for at least 3 weeks. This allows the seeds to grow bigger and stronger and the flavour of the squash to mature.

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If the weather is as dry as Grandad's Xmas Turkey then make the most of the daylight hours by gathering leaves, either for leafmould (as above) or you could press the leaves and use in a display about your FFL growing work.

Alternatively, why not gather the materials needed to Make a Cloche, as you’ll need to protect the plants you’ve got growing from the oncoming chill.

If the weather is as soggy as a Yorkshire pud floating in gravy then get Seed Saving. Not only is this a practical way of teaching children about the importance of sustainability, it’s also fun and saves money. After you’ve harvested your squash and let it rest for a while, save the squash seeds by carefully cutting it in half, removing the seeds and rinsing them in a colander. You’ll need to leave them to dry (try fanning with old school books), turning them over a few times. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. You could then give these out to parents for next year’s planting, meeting B3.1 of your Bronze Award Criteria along the way.

Meet Faye

FayeFaye is the Food for Life Awards Officer. When she’s not supporting schools to achieve their awards, you’ll find her on the allotment tending to her organically grown fruit and vegetables, or in the kitchen cooking up a storm with her home-grown produce.

Faye has recently completed the RHS Level 2 Horticulture Qualification and she’ll be sharing her organic, seasonal gardening tips with you every half term.

Veg-u-cate: Food Facts for Fun

Did you know…that it’s tradition to plant Garlic on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice (December 21st), ready for harvesting on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice (June 21st)

This will be a little too late for most, but if you plant your garlic after the first frost you’ll guarantee your school a good healthy crop (and breath to keep the vampires away!)