October 25 2013
Preparations to get the garden shed up are underway. Michael boxed up a 3m x 3m square timber frame, into which concrete will be poured, to form the base of the shed.
Katrina layed black plastic and topped with gravel saved from the previous school garden, to create pathways around the banana donut garden.
Thanks to Pakhi for inspiration regarding “keyhole” gardens (see link: http://www.inspirationgreen.com/keyhole-gardens.html). This led us to transform the no-dig circle-shaped garden into a more effective space. Katrina & Isaak dug out a keyhole shape to form a path, which allows better access for young gardeners to reach to all areas of the circle for planting. We used the excess material to extend the circle size slightly. Eventually, we will place a compost tube in the very centre of the circle, which will allow compost to breakdown and distribute nutrients out into the rest of the circle.
Seven children from Year 1 proudly put in our first official “crop” today. Ivy, Mary, Vincent, Patrick, Henry, Hunter and Isaak planted six banana suckers - two Lady Finger variety and four Sugar variety. They did a wonderful job, taking turns with digging, planting, back-filling, mulching and watering. As most of the suckers had few leaves to speak of, the children decided some decoration was in order…they collected purple flowers from a vine growing on the fence and made the banana suckers look very pretty! They were so pleased with their gardening efforts.
New Garden Beds
Michael spent the day building two rectangular raised garden bed frames using old railway sleepers rescued from the school’s previous garden. These will be prepared for planting using the same layered, no-dig method as we used for the banana donut. Thank you Michael!
School Holiday Working Bee
Thanks to all our families who came along to help… Lynnette, Patrick, Daniella & Laurence; Karl and Quinn; Nathan, Hunter & Charlotte; Pakhi, Ravi, Tahu & Mo; Vanessa, Peter, Vincent & Julian; Nicolette & Leila; Michael, Katrina & Isaak; and of course our Principal, Mr Tim Bleakley.
It was an unbelievably hot day – the hottest of the entire school holidays!! – but everyone pitched in and worked hard regardless. What great community spirit. Fortunately we had a garden hose available for cooling down the children! Thanks to Mr Bleakley for all the ice-cold bottles of water he shared with the group.
Anaheke, the gardener from Brunswick Heads Primary School, came to have a look at our site and give us a bit of free friendly expert advice before we began work. She suggested a great use for our pile of gravelly soil (rescued from the playground): a “banana donut” garden. No, we are not growing banana-flavoured donuts, but we will be growing banana suckers in a donut-shaped raised layer garden. Karl led the shovelling to create the donut shape. We then topped the poor quality soil with layers of newspaper, manure, garden waste, compost and sugarcane mulch, and gave it a good watering-in. In a few weeks we will plant banana suckers around the donut ring. Everyone loves the idea of a “donut” garden. I’m sure our bananas will be even yummier than donuts though! Stay tuned for a taste in about 18 months time.
More shovelling saw us create another layered garden beside the banana donut, this time in a regular circle shape. We used more of the soil rescued from the playground as the base, then built it up with layers (as above). Using layers in this way is called no-dig gardening (see www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s867068.htm for information). A big thankyou to the Barlow family for their donation of six bags of cow manure, and to Nicolette for the horse manure. Also, thank you to Peter who donated and delivered a ute-load of sugarcane mulch.
Still more shovelling…and more shovelling…Nathan did an amazing job topping up the garden beds on the lower level of the playground near the amphitheatre. Lucky Nathan, got to work in the shade!!
Lynnette, Vanessa, Pahki and Nicolette began the major task of removing the ivy and various other vines which had taken over the side fence, secateurs flashing with their efficient work. The children were great helpers taking away the clippings and dumping them in the skip bin.
To begin the planning process for creating a kitchen garden at St John’s, a small group of interested parents (Andrea, Melinda & Katrina) did a series of site visits to take a look at what other schools in the area are doing. We went to the Mullumbimby Christian School, Shearwater Steiner School and Brunswick Heads Public School. We got lots of ideas about what is possible.
August 16 was a big day at St John's...the digger arrived to prepare an area in the bottom playground for our new "spider web" climbing equipment. The digger operator and workmen kindly removed old sleepers from our proposed kitchen garden site on the top oval, then dumped excess soil on the site to use as a starter base for our gardens.