Creating an Edible School Garden

  • 98 views
Uploaded on

Creating an Edible School Garden …

Creating an Edible School Garden
`
For more information, Please see websites below:
`
Organic Edible Schoolyards & Gardening with Children
http://scribd.com/doc/239851214
`
Double Food Production from your School Garden with Organic Tech
http://scribd.com/doc/239851079
`
Free School Gardening Art Posters
http://scribd.com/doc/239851159`
`
Companion Planting Increases Food Production from School Gardens
http://scribd.com/doc/239851159
`
Healthy Foods Dramatically Improves Student Academic Success
http://scribd.com/doc/239851348
`
City Chickens for your Organic School Garden
http://scribd.com/doc/239850440
`
Simple Square Foot Gardening for Schools - Teacher Guide
http://scribd.com/doc/239851110

More in: Education
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
98
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
4
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Acknowledgments Prepared by the Nutrition team of the Tropical Public Health Unit Network, Queensland Health. Special thanks to all Queensland Health staff who provided comments. Cover illustration by Lauren Ackers of Fudge Puppy Design. Design and layout by Di James. Australian Guide to Healthy Eating – funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services under the National Nutrition Policy Program. Prepared by the Children’s Health Development Foundation, South Australia and Deakin University, Victoria, 1998. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia. Reproduced by permission. © Queensland Health 2003. ISBN 0-7345-2998-8. Version 1. Printed June 2003. Queensland Health permits the reproduction of this work in whole or in part for educational purposes within an educational institution and on the condition that it not be offered for sale.
  • 2. 1 Contents INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................................................................................3 CHAPTER 1 Before you Begin ................................................................................................................................................4 What kind of garden is right for you?..........................................................................................................4 Traditional cultivation......................................................................................................................................4 Planting..................................................................................................................................................................4 ‘No dig’ gardening ..........................................................................................................................................5 Container gardens ..........................................................................................................................................5 Other gardening options..............................................................................................................................5 Equipment and supplies ..............................................................................................................................6 Safety ....................................................................................................................................................................6 Funding..................................................................................................................................................................7 CHAPTER 2 Garden Site Analysis ........................................................................................................................................9 How to analyse your garden ............................................................................................................................9 Selecting a site ................................................................................................................................................9 Sunlight analysis............................................................................................................................................12 Soil analysis ....................................................................................................................................................13 CHAPTER 3 How Does Your Garden Grow? ..............................................................................................................18 Designing a garden bed..................................................................................................................................18 Garden tools..........................................................................................................................................................18 Get gardening!......................................................................................................................................................18 1 Traditional cultivation ............................................................................................................................18 2 How to prepare a ‘no dig’ garden ................................................................................................20 3 How to garden using ‘direct sowing’ ..........................................................................................20 4 How to build a ‘transplanting garden’ ........................................................................................21 CHAPTER 4 Maintaining your garden ............................................................................................................................23 Watering ..................................................................................................................................................................23 Climatic conditions ......................................................................................................................................23 Soil type ............................................................................................................................................................23 Plant type ..........................................................................................................................................................23 Mulching ..................................................................................................................................................................24 Top ten mulches ............................................................................................................................................25 Fertilising..................................................................................................................................................................25 Weed Control........................................................................................................................................................25 Pests and Diseases............................................................................................................................................26 How to prevent pests and diseases ..................................................................................................26 Natural controls..............................................................................................................................................27
  • 3. 2 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden APPENDICES ......................................................................................................................................................................................28 Appendix A Creating a container garden ........................................................................................28 Points to consider ........................................................................................................................................28 Type of pots ..............................................................................................................................................28 Pot size ........................................................................................................................................................28 Potting mixes ............................................................................................................................................28 Drainage......................................................................................................................................................29 Watering......................................................................................................................................................29 Fertilising ....................................................................................................................................................29 Appendix B Creating a school compost bin ..................................................................................30 Points to consider ........................................................................................................................................30 What can you compost?....................................................................................................................30 What can't you compost?..................................................................................................................31 Getting the mix just right....................................................................................................................31 The perfect compost pile ..................................................................................................................32 The easy way to compost..................................................................................................................32 How often should you compost? ..................................................................................................32 Compost troubleshooting ..................................................................................................................32 Appendix C Creating a school worm farm......................................................................................33 Points to consider ........................................................................................................................................33 What's good for worms?....................................................................................................................33 What's not good for worms? ..........................................................................................................33 Where to make a worm farm............................................................................................................33 How to make a worm farm................................................................................................................33 Getting started ........................................................................................................................................34 Collecting the castings ......................................................................................................................34 Worm water ..............................................................................................................................................34 Appendix D Garden tools............................................................................................................................36 Appendix E Facts on fertilisers ..............................................................................................................39 Essential plant nutrients ............................................................................................................................39 Types of fertilisers ........................................................................................................................................40 Organic fertilisers ..................................................................................................................................40 Inorganic fertilisers ................................................................................................................................40 Liquid fertiliser..........................................................................................................................................41 Appendix F Plant selection guide..........................................................................................................42 Australian climate zones ..........................................................................................................................42 Fruit selection guide....................................................................................................................................44 Vegetable selection guide........................................................................................................................48 Herb selection guide ..................................................................................................................................53 Nut tree selection guide............................................................................................................................55 Appendix G Vegetable planting calendar........................................................................................56 Planting calendar for tropical zones....................................................................................................56 Planting calendar for temperate zones..............................................................................................57 Planting calendar for cool zones ..........................................................................................................58 Appendix H Common garden pests and diseases....................................................................59 Common garden pests..............................................................................................................................59 Common plant diseases............................................................................................................................61 REFERENCES ....................................................................................................................................................................................62
  • 4. INTRODUCTION 3 Introduction Why create a school garden? Gardening provides children with an important opportunity to learn through active participation and experience. Growing fresh produce allows children to investigate, experiment, manipulate, contemplate, problem solve and succeed. A healthy garden requires the adoption of caring attitudes and values and the demonstration and application of a wide range of skills. Children love to grow things and they love food, bringing fun and enjoyment into the learning process. Using gardening as a learning tool offers many advantages. Many plant varieties, particularly of vegetables and herbs, have a relatively short cycle from germination to maturity, allowing on-going feedback about the health and development of the plant. Additionally, the high success rate of gardening projects provides motivation to the children and promotes positive self-esteem. In addition to learning about food and nutrition, gardening activities offer an opportunity to address a range of science, technology and environmental concerns. For example, children can: • establish direct links with the land and promote stewardship for it’s well-being • discover interdependency between humans and nature and recognise the necessity to coexist with the wider animal and vegetable domains • embrace the basic environmental concepts that are crucial to their existence and future • begin to understand essential ecological processes • recognise that they can have a positive impact on their environment • examine the wise use of technology in relation to growing • develop positive attitudes towards the environment • gain a general understanding of life cycles • be empowered in making informed decisions regarding the environment Dig In is an easy to use guide to school gardening. The information provided is designed to give classroom teachers in a variety of schools and circumstances, information to begin a range of school or classroom gardening projects. While teachers are encouraged to read this guide thoroughly, they may take from it only what is of most relevance to their own gardening project.
  • 5. 4 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Chapter 1 Before you begin What kind of garden is right for you? Before you begin to garden, it is important to decide what your gardening method is going to be. Fortunately, there are several gardening options to suit the needs of individual schools, and the space and facilities available. Traditional cultivation To garden in the traditional way, you need an area of soil to be cleared, loosened, aerated, mixed with organic matter, and prepared for planting. It must be protected from human traffic, and have a good source of sunlight and rain. This is an effective type of gardening for students who enjoy hands on activities and the outdoors. See Chapter 3: ‘How does your garden grow?’ for easy to follow steps on how to garden the traditional way. Planting To plant a garden, there are two types of planting that should be considered: direct sowing or transplanting. Direct sowing Most vegetables can be sown directly and successfully grown. Sowing directly into the garden bed prevents transplant shock, which inevitably occurs when seedlings are planted out. This can mean that vegetables that are sown directly into beds actually mature more quickly than transplanted plants germinated at the same time. When direct sowing, seed can be either broadcast or sown in rows. Medium and large sized seeds can be easily sown in rows. Very fine seed, however, can often be broadcast and thinned out after germination. Bed preparation is crucial to direct sowing successfully. Soil must be broken up into a fine seed bed. Soil that is rough and uneven and still clinging together in clods can not provide seeds with adequate air/water balance for successful germination. See Chapter 3: ‘How does your garden grow?’ for easy to follow steps on how to garden the Direct sowing way. Transplanting Although most vegetables can be grown directly from seed, there can be many advantages in growing seedlings at school. Transplanting seedlings, however, requires care and skill and the needs of the young plant must always be foremost in the mind of the planter. If seedlings are transplanted carelessly they will suffer severely from the shock and, even if they recover, their growth and development will be set back considerably. See Chapter 3: ‘How does your garden grow’ for easy to follow steps on how to garden the transplanting way.
  • 6. CHAPTER 1 5 ‘No dig’ gardening ‘No dig’ gardening provides an alternative garden bed preparation technique which is suitable for sites with soil that is particularly difficult to manage such as very heavy clay, gravel, or heavy grass covering. This preparation method removes the need to dig the garden area. Instead, it involves building the bed on top of the existing soil surface. Using this method you can build your garden bed straight on top of grassed areas. There is no need to dig or prepare the ground in any way. It works by creating its own growing medium, which provides plants with support, nutrients, air and moisture balance without depending on the surface soil. Over time this technique builds up topsoil which, with the help of worms and micro-organisms, infiltrates the original surface. The end effect is that the garden bed becomes conditioned and traditional methods may then be adopted. In the process, this method also effectively controls existing weeds and grasses under the area covered due to the exclusion of sunlight. The disadvantage of this method is that it does require additional materials, some of which can represent significant costs. • The bed is raised, so some types of garden borders are required. Old railway sleepers are useful here, although any timber can be staked into position. • A supply of good quality, screened garden soil, preferably with a high organic component, is required to provide support for seedlings. • A supply of compost to provide nutrients is also required. • See Chapter 3: ‘How does your garden grow?’ for easy to follow steps on how to garden the ‘no dig’ way. Container gardens If lack of suitable place for a garden bed is an issue, creating a container garden may be the answer. While most herbs can be grown successfully in a pot, there are also many varieties of fruits and vegetables that can also be grown, not to mention the large number of sprouts. When creating a container garden, there are a number of things that are important to consider See Appendix A: Creating a container garden for easy to follow steps on how to develop a container garden. Other gardening options If creating a garden isn’t an option for you at the moment, whether it due to time, space or money constraints, there are other options that you can do more quickly and easily. Creating a school worm farm Prior to developing a school garden, or as an additional project, some classes may like to develop a worm farm. Developing and maintaining worm farms is an excellent physical activity for students and can easily link to science, technology and environmental curricula. Worm farms are easy to develop, require less room than a garden and teach students the many benefits worms provide for the garden. For example, worms: • break up and process organic materials by eating organic materials and excreting them as casts • mix the soil components (particularly the organic components) as they eat their way around • increase the availability of the nutrients in the soil and organic materials due to the above two factors • improve the structure of soil through the mixing action and the presence of casts. • increase the growth of plants through enabling plant roots to penetrate soil more easily and increase the penetration of air and water See Appendix C: Creating a school worm farm for more information.
  • 7. 6 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Creating a school compost bin Another option for classes to take as an alternative to gardening, or in addition, is composting. Composting is an inexpensive way to improve the soil in your garden, as it speeds up the natural process of decomposition. It is achieved by placing the required amounts of suitable organic waste materials together under the right conditions. When the balance is right, heat, water, bacteria and oxygen then combine to accelerate decomposition to produce nutrient-rich compost. Creating a compost will provide students with the opportunity be physically active and learn about science, technology and the environment. It will also teach students how valuable composting is to gardeners. For example, composting: • recycles organic waste. Most organic waste from the home or garden can be used in compost making. • is basically a free fertiliser. It is nutrient-rich in forms that are useful to plants. It is superior to chemical fertilisers as it won’t harm or kill earthworms in your soil. • promotes earthworm activity by providing a food source. • provides organic material which improves the soil structure, increasing the ability of soil to absorb and retain water for use by the plants. • provides excellent mulch, providing a wide range of benefits, such as conserving water and preventing erosion. See Appendix B: Creating a school compost bin for more information. Equipment and supplies It may be possible to secure some financial support for the garden program from the school Parents and Citizens Association. However, in many cases, due to limitations of the school budget, you may be required to look elsewhere for equipment and supplies. The following are some suggestions of where support can be sought. Borrow gardening tools from the school garden shed. Request second-hand materials from class members’ home. Request donations of or discounts on materials from local community members and organisations. For example, approach local nurseries or supermarket chains for seeds and seedlings or animal manure from local farmers. Safety Supervision of students Each State and Territory has its own specific legal requirements regarding excursions and school programs. Be sure to clarify and conform to the regulations of your local education body in areas of: • insurance cover • teacher/adult to student ratios • parental permission • transit to and from garden site.
  • 8. 7 Sun safety It is important for everyone to practice sun safety during the course of the gardening program. Consider the following: • Time try to avoid the sun in the middle of the day, 10am to 3pm. This will reduce your exposure to UV rays by up to 60 per cent. • Shade stay in the shade of trees or buildings whenever possible. If there is no shade, try making some of your own – an umbrella, a very large hat, a large towel draped over something. • Clothing wear loose, comfortable clothes that cover you well, especially your neck, arms and legs. A closely woven fabric lets in fewer UV rays than a loose-weave fabric. • Hat wear a broad-brimmed hat that will shade your face, neck and ears. This alone will cut UV rays to your face and eyes by about half. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that have the AS1067 rating. • 30+ sunscreen cover any areas likely to get exposed and areas likely to get reflected rays from the sun, such as your face. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out into the sun and reapply it every two hours or more often. For sensitive parts of the face, such as the nose and lips, use a solar lip screen. Safety when using tools Whenever gardening tools are used, there are some basic safety tips which need to be considered: • ensure all gardeners are wearing suitable protective footwear • check the condition of all tools prior to use – ensure all metal parts are securely attached to wooden handles • check wooden handles for splinters that might lodge in the user’s hands • ensure that all children know how to operate each tool correctly and safety. Include specific safety rules • specify and enforce a safety zone around dangerous implements when they are being used. • nominate tow safety officers from your class who are trained to watch for and stop unsafe practices, according to agreed classroom procedures. Funding The sustainability of a school garden project is often dependent on the number of people available who are willing to help. However, finding volunteers is often a very difficult task. Below are some suggestions for recruiting volunteers to help with your school garden: • Identify possible target groups – parents, grandparents, retirees, senior citizen groups, unemployed people, local gardening clubs, other community groups. • Consider the most effect methods of establishing contact with each of these target groups. Potential avenues include the school newsletter, flyers, the local paper, community announcements, job boards and employment agencies, letters to external agencies. There are also organisations that will recruit volunteers for you. • Consider any potential barriers to involvement and develop strategies to overcome these barriers. • Identify strategies to encourage and maintain involvement.
  • 9. 8 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden While the needs of the volunteers are being met, it is likely they will continue to offer assistance. It is therefore important that their needs are considered: • Maintain an atmosphere that is friendly and welcoming whilst remaining professional. • Get to know your volunteers – take an interest in them. • Provide adequate training. • Ensure the number of volunteers is adequate for the workload. • Recognise and utilise individual skills. • Plan specific events to acknowledge the contribution of volunteers. It is important to remember that volunteers are giving their time for free, so never take them for granted. In addition to recruiting volunteers, your school may be in the position to fund the employment of someone to help with the project. Some suggestions for sources of funding include: • Community organisations such as Rotary, Lions and RSL Clubs • Local health promotion grants • Local councils • Parent and Citizens or Parents and Friends Associations • Local businesses • Department of Employment, Education and Training.
  • 10. 9 Chapter 2 Garden site analysis It is important to investigate a few potential sites for your garden bed before selecting the final site. There are a number of factors that should be included in any garden site analysis, including the availability of sunlight and the soil type. Access to water is also an important issue to consider. An accurate analysis of the soil conditions at a potential garden site helps determine the most relevant approach to its preparation for planting. The first decision to be made is whether the site is suitable for traditional cultivation. If the site conditions are extremely harsh they will require extra effort and time to be made ready for planting. Being restricted by the school year and to seasons, this extended preparation time may not be available to you. Such conditions include: • very heavy clay soils which are difficult to cultivate • sites grassed densely with grasses such as kikuyu and couch • areas with a high proportion of gravel • compacted soils (old car parks or driveways). In such situations it may be better to use alternative gardening techniques such as the ‘no dig’ preparation method (See Chapter 3: How does your garden grow?). However, if the site conditions are reasonable and it is decided that a traditional cultivation preparation is suitable, then the soil at the site must be analysed to help determine suitable preparation methods and quantities and to assist with accurate variety selection. How to analyse your garden Selecting a site SIZE OF THE GARDEN There are no firm rules when it comes to deciding how much space is adequate, as the requirements of each class will vary greatly. An allocation of 0.7–1m2 per child will provide an adequate, flexible gardening space for class groups. It is important to remember that this space may be divided in many ways. It may be one large garden bed or a number of smaller beds which may or may not be at the same location and which will demand more space because of the area occupied by dividing pathways. Finding a suitable location for your garden may take some time and thought. Initially many people only consider sites within the school grounds. However, successful school gardens have been established outside of the school grounds.
  • 11. 10 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden The following are some external sites that could be accessed for a school garden: Large sites • Council properties Councils have a range of secure lots and storage areas. There may even be an active community garden in your area. Beware of dangerous substances in council depots. • Local business premises Many businesses have large enclosed rear areas which may be suitable. Contact businesses personally or through your local business development board • Local gardening clubs Many areas have established gardening clubs. Where they have no available land of their own, they may be able to direct you to likely areas. Such clubs can also provide valuable support. • Local churches Many churches have large churchyards. Be sure these areas are secure. Advantages of large sites • Single location for whole class. • Minimal additional supervision requirements. • Larger, more highly productive garden beds can be established. • Teacher can personally observe and monitor each individual within the class group. • Less complicated travel arrangements. Disadvantages of large sites • Large premises are often less secure (especially out of office hours). • Maintenance and care over school breaks and weekends is often less available. Small sites • Backyards These tend to be the most accessible spaces to schools. Backyards may belong to: – the families of the children in your class. Simply send home a letter – the families of other children in the school whose properties may be more accessible. Use the school newsletter to contact them – local residences. Local residents may be happy to participate in a school gardening program. Contact the locals directly and outline your aims and requirements – the wider community. Advertise the aims of your program through the local community paper and request space from well-positioned locals. • Small plots and gardens It may be possible to access space for your garden at: – hospitals – nursing homes – hostels.
  • 12. 11 Advantage of small sites • Security is assured in most backyards due to permanent occupation, observation and good fencing. • Maintenance over school breaks and weekends is simplified. • The opportunity exists to group children in a variety of ways – cross-age, single sex, friendship and interest. • Parents can be involved easily in the class curriculum in a relaxed and supportive setting. Parents also become custodians and tend to experience a sense of program-ownership. • The knowledge, experience and skill of others can be passed on to children through involving parents and residents in the gardens located on their grounds. • There is usually a wider selection of offers from which to select a site. • Tool and implement requirements are reduced as it is often possible to use the host’s resources. Disadvantages of having a number of small sites • Additional adult supervision becomes a necessity. • Travel to and from garden sites become more complicated with each additional site and needs to be planned carefully. SECURITY Like it or not, security is an important issue in choosing a garden site. Having a garden disturbed or destroyed by intruding people or stray animals can be very demoralising and upsetting for the children. If possible, select a site that is fenced in and/or, where possible, has adjoining areas where people are in permanent residence. PROXIMITY TO SCHOOL The location selected needs to be as easily accessible to the class as possible. Being within 10 minutes travel of the school is workable. Any more time spent in travel begins to infringe on the program time allocation. SITE HISTORY The past use of a potential site will have a bearing on its suitability for a garden. Most soils can be modified and improved, but if soil is severely damaged this can be too expensive and time-consuming to be viable. There are some sites that should never be considered for gardens. These include sites: • where chemical spills or intense usage are suspected • where poisons and other dangerous substances have been used or stored. There are also some sites that can prove too difficult to establish a healthy garden. These sites may include: • old car parks, roadways or compacted areas. Compaction affects the structure and aeration of the soil and is difficult to rectify. • areas with extremely heavy clay soil. These areas can be difficult to prepare, especially for children. If unavoidable, seek adult or mechanical assistance for the initial site digging. • sites full of foreign material such as gravel, stones, glass and rusty wire. These areas can be dangerous. • areas densely covered with Kikuyu or couch or other dense grasses. While many of these problems can be overcome, it is preferable if these sites can be excluded.
  • 13. 12 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Sunlight Analysis Sunlight is crucial to healthy plant growth, but one must be reminded that the amount of available sunlight varies from season to season and day to day. As the year approaches the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), the amount of sunlight we receive diminishes. During this period of the year, shadows are also lengthened as the sun appears lower in the sky and because there is a greater likelihood of cloud cover. Towards the summer solstice, the situation is reversed. The amount of sunlight that plants receive is critical to their growth. If adequate sunlight is not available, neither the richest soil nor the best water supply can make up for it. All plant species have their particular sunlight requirements. Ferns for example, are found in shady gullies where they receive all the light they need. If a cactus was planted in the same shady gully, however, it is unlikely to survive as it has a greater light requirement for survival and growth. Vegetables, both summer and winter varieties, are generally sun-loving plants, although they can tolerate some variation. Abundant sunshine all year round is the key to their healthy and vigorous growth. In this site analysis the factor considered in sunshine. Where, within the available space, does the maximum sunlight fall? At what time of the day and for how long? When the site analysis has been completed, the space, which provides the most available sunlight, can be identified. Ideally, for the best garden results, the garden bed should be located there. To analyse the availability of sunlight at each potential site, you will need: • a sunny day! • 10–30 pegs or wooden skewers • ball of string • scissors • paper and pencils • compass. Procedure 1 Visit the site you want to analysis. Draw a map of the site. For example, if you are in a backyard, draw the entire backyard. – Pace out distances for scale. – Include all things that might influence the sunlight in the garden such as the house or buildings, sheds, trees, fences and clothes lines. 2 Plan three visits to the site (morning, lunchtime and afternoon). Use the pegs and string to mark out the areas which are in shade on each visit. Leave the pegs and string in place until visit three. Draw them on your map. 3 After the third visit, examine your map. Mark areas that were not in shade at any time as Zone 1. Mark areas which were in shade for one visit as Zone 3. Mark areas which were in shade for more than one visit as Zone 3.
  • 14. 13 Soil analysis As many plants are fussy about the soil they grow in, it is also useful to know what type of soil is in the potential garden bed. Knowing this, we can select suitable plants to grow and we can work out how to improve the soil. For example if the soil is very sandy, we can add extra organic matter to improve its structure so that it will retain moisture better. Not all soils appear the same. Even within one garden it is often possible to observe three or four distinctly different soils. Each soil is formed under different conditions, in a different location at a different time. This means that each soil has its own balance of minerals and organic matter and, consequently, appears different, holds different amounts of air and water and will sustain different living organisms. The make-up and balance of soil is not stable and is constantly undergoing change. This is very important when considering how soils should be treated. Soils are formed over many thousands of years under the influence of a number of forces: • Biological Plants break up rocks with their root systems. The animals on or in the soil help to mix it up and break it down into smaller forms. The secretion of animals also contributes. • Climate Wind and water, heat and cold all combine to erode the parent substances which are broken down to forms soils. • Topography The topography of an area controls how forces of climate affect an area. For example, steep areas are affected differently to flat areas. • Chemical Water and oxygen combine to dissolve particles and then re-combine them in different forms. The soil at each potential garden bed site should be examined in the following two ways: soil structure and soil pH. SOIL STRUCTURE Soil has many components. Two vital components of soil, which at first glance we may overlook, are air and water. Any soil conditions that exclude either one of these components provides an environment suitable only for specialised plant life such as mangroves and cactus. For most plants to thrive, a balance of air and water must be maintained in the soil. For soil to maintain an air and water balance, it must be open and free draining. The pore spaces between mineral particles need to be large enough to allow air and water to infiltrate freely. Water must be able to drain through the soil without being trapped, filling all the pore spaces and excluding air. To maintain an air and water balance, soil must also maintain some water, not letting all water pass straight through. Without holding some water in its pores no moisture would be available to provide plants with their requirements for healthy growth. Soil that is predominantly sand is open. Sand is composed of relatively large mineral particles with large pore spaces. Sand does not compress easily to close up these pores. Any water is absorbed quickly by sand and able to pass through unhindered, draining rapidly through the sand layer. Sand, being very open, has no way of holding moisture in its pores, sand drains and dries out very quickly. To maintain air and water balance in sand it must be watered extremely frequently to top it up. Clay presents the opposite extreme. Clay particles are extremely fine and fit neatly together leaving little space between them. Clay particles also compact easily, further closing the pore spaces. Any water flowing onto the surface of a predominantly clay soil is absorbed into the surface slowly and is
  • 15. 14 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden trapped within the pore spaces, draining through very slowly. Clay traps water easily in its fine pore spaces. Water passes through a predominantly clay soil with difficulty which can lead to waterlogging. This is when all the pores are full with water and no more can soak in. When soil becomes waterlogged, all air is excluded, upsetting the air and water balance. It is also important that the soil allows for easy root penetration and growth. Roots use the open pores to travel in search of nutrients and moisture. Sand is very open and promotes root growth but has few useable nutrients which prevents many plants from thriving. On the other hand, clay has small pore spaces that fit tightly together, making it extremely hard and inhibiting healthy root growth. Clay, although it is nutrient rich, makes it difficult for plants to get nutrients, again inhibiting growth. What is needed is a soil somewhere between a course sand and heavy clay. A well-balanced soil requires a range of large (sand), medium (silt) and small (clay) particles all fitting together. When a soil is well-balanced, the pore spaces are irregular – some large, some small, some in-between. This allows water to drain freely through the larger pores and prevents waterlogging, while holding some moisture in the smaller pores to provide plants with moisture and nutrients over an extended period of time. A soil, which has a balanced range of particle sizes, is said to be well structured or ‘friable’. A friable soil breaks up easily into clumps when it is cultivated. Even when crumbled, friable soil still appears to hold together. Sand when cultivated falls completely apart while clay is hard to cultivate as it sticks strongly together. Crucial to the structure of all soils is the inclusion of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. Organic matter helps bond soil particles together in crumbs, helping to form irregular pore spaces. By adding organic matter to sand, it holds the sand particles together. By adding organic matter to clay, it bonds the fine particles into irregular shaped crumbs, opening up the soil. Organic matter is also a rich source of nutrients. Investigate each potential garden bed site and determine how well structured the soil is by conducting a series of tests. Soil tests 1 Water reaction YOU WILL NEED: • large sieve • two 2-litre measuring jugs • stopwatch • soil samples from each site (For accuracy, the soil samples should be oven dried, removing all moisture)
  • 16. 15 PROCEDURE: • Label each sample: Site 1, Site 2, etc. • Place three cups of the first sample soil into the sieve. Shake it lightly and pat the surface lightly. Do not pack down. • Holding the sieve over one measuring jug to catch the overflow, poor 500ml of water over the soil. Let it drain through the soil for one minute. • Remove the sieve. Measure the amount of water that has flowed through. • Repeat for each soil sample, recording the results and consider the following questions: • Soil from which site drained most quickly? • Soil from which site drained most slowly? • Why were they different? 2 Soil classification Each soil particle type feels different. For example, sand feels gritty, silt feels silky smooth and clay feels sticky. When these particles are mixed together, they make soils which feel different and hold together differently. We can classify them by feeling the soil particles and by seeing how well they hold together. Take a handful of a soil sample. Wet the sample until it is moist but not soggy. Use this sample to try and make the shapes described. SAND Soil type Roll the soil into a ball Action • Soil feels gritty • Soil won’t stick together, just falls apart if you try and put it down. Result SANDY LOAMRoll the soil into a cylinder • Soil will make a short cylinder (6cm), but will fall apart when you make a longer cylinder (15cm). SILTY LOAM• Soil will make a 15cm cylinder but cannot be bent at all without it breaking. • Soil has a strange silky-smooth feeling and does not feel gritty at all. LOAM• Soil will make a 15cm cylinder but cannot be bent. • Soil does not feel gritty but it also does not feel silky-smooth. CLAY LOAM• Soil will make a 15cm long cylinder and can be bent without breaking. • Soil does not feel gritty or silky. SANDY CLAY• Soil will bend into a circle but cracks slowly. • Soil feels slightly gritty. SILTY CLAY• Soil will bend into a circle with some cracks showing. • Soil feels smooth. CLAY• Soil will bend into a circle and does not crack at all. • Soil holds together tightly. LOAMY SAND• Soil feels gritty • Soil just holds together but you can’t make shapes without it falling apart.
  • 17. 16 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden 3 Soil pH Soil pH is the measure of the acid level of the soil. Different plants prefer different pH levels, for example, vegetables prefer a mid-range pH level. The adjustment of the soil pH is simple and effective once levels are determined. Soil is an extremely complex structure and is made from a range of components. These components combine to provide the range of elements essential to plant health and growth. These elements are: • Calcium • Phosphorus • Sulphur • Nitrogen • Manganese • Boron • Magnesium • Copper • Zinc • Iron • Molybdenum • Potassium Soil can sometimes have the supply of any one of these elements run down, in which case they need to be replenished. This can happen naturally over many years or artificially in a short space of time by a gardener. Often these elements (especially the trace elements) are plentiful in the soil but simply not in a way that is useful to plants. The acidity or alkalinity directly affects the availability of elements to plants. If the soil is too acid or too alkaline, various elements are less soluble and therefore less available to plant root systems. pH is measured on a scale of 1–14. Most soils range between 4–9 on the ph scale and it is within this range that most essential plant nutrients are available. pH is easily measured with a range of testing kits which can be found in any garden centre. A pH level of 5 or lower is considered a strongly acid soil, which a pH of 9 or higher is considered strongly alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral, neither acid nor alkaline. For a healthy garden, the ideal is to have a pH level of between 6 and 8. The pH level of a garden bed can vary according to a range of contributing factors, including: • the amount, origin and composition of organic matter • predominance of subsoil • types of crops or vegetation previously grown on the site • amount of watering. The pH level of a soil can be adjusted quite easily: • If a soil is acid, raise the pH level by adding alkaline material. For example, apply lime at a rate of approximately 200 grams per square metre, adding slightly more if the soil is clay and slightly less if the soil is sand. Water in lightly and then re-test the pH level. • If a soil is alkaline, lower the pH level by adding acid material. For example, apply Flowers of Sulphur at the rate of 10 grams per square metre, adding slightly more if the soil is clay and slightly less if the soil is sand. Water in lightly and the re-test the pH level. Do not try to make dramatic and sudden changes in the pH of your soil, as this can shock your plants to death. Instead, apply the appropriate remedy. Let the soil lie for two months, test it again and make another application if necessary. Repeat at two monthly intervals until the correct pH is achieved.
  • 18. 17 To test the pH level of your garden bed, you will need: • Universal Indicator and colour chart (available from school science chemical suppliers) • clean pop sticks • lime (finely powdered shell, crushed limestone, builder’s lime) • sulphur (flowers of sulphur, sulphate of ammonia) PROCEDURE: • Using a small handful of soil, add a little water and mix with a clean pop stick until you make a smooth paste. • Add a few drops of Universal Indicator to the paste. Do not stir in. • Leave the paste for approximately two minutes. • Compare the colour of the drops of indicator with the colour chart. What is the approximate pH level of the soil. • Using a fresh clean pop stick, mix another handful of the same soil into a paste. • Add half a teaspoon of lime to the paste. • Repeat steps 2 and 3. • Compare the colour of the drops of indicators with the colour chart. What is the approximate pH level of your sample now? • Using another fresh clean pop stick, mix another fresh handful of the same soil sample into a smooth paste. • Add a quarter teaspoon of sulphur to the paste. • Repeat steps 2 and 3. • Compare the colour of the drops of indicator with the colour chart. What is the approximate pH level of your sample now. Select the site of your garden and adjust the pH to between 6 and 8 by adding lime or sulphur if necessary. NOTE: When using chemicals, observe safety precautions. Always wash hands after use and avoid contact with skin, eyes and mouth.
  • 19. 18 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Chapter 3 How does your garden grow? Designing a garden bed Where possible, garden beds should run east–west to maximise available sunlight. Pathways should divide large garden areas into narrow beds. At their widest point, garden beds for children should be no wider than 1.5 metres. Length is not a problem. Garden tools There is a huge range of different tools available to the gardener, many of them with specialist functions. A selection of more common, general-purpose tools are listed in Appendix D: Garden Tools. It must be noted that as some tools are designed to deal with extreme soil conditions, safety recommendations are also included to assist teachers in selecting a suitable range. Get gardening! 1 Traditional cultivation The preparation process is a progression of simple procedures, which will: • loosen and aerate the soil ensuring that roots are able to grow vigorously • enrich the soil with organic material, which helps ensure nutrients are available to the growing plant and that the soil structure is such that it is able to drain freely • maintain a suitable air/ moisture balance. Follow each preparation stage thoroughly. Once you have selected a suitable site, the next most important thing to help grow plentiful, strong and healthy crops is good preparation of the garden bed. YOU WILL NEED: • spades • rakes • hoes • pegs • string • measuring tape • garden design plan • well rotted compost or old manure PROCEDURE: 1 Mark out the garden beds Using the pegs and string, mark out your garden beds. You may want to begin preparing only half the available space. This will allow you to prepare the other half while the first garden is growing. This helps to spread the workload and the produce will mature at different times.
  • 20. 19 2 Clear the surface This site must be cleared of weeds and grass. Where possible, pull weeds by hand. If this is not possible, dig them out using a spade, hoe or mattock. Do not dig deeply. Where there is Kikuyu or couch grass covering a garden site, you may have to remove the top layer: a Cut the grass surface into squares with the spade. b Use the spade to cut away the roots just below the soil surface. Where Kikuyu, couch and other perennial grasses are found, the garden bed will need to be maintained constantly to inhibit re-growth. 3 Loosen the soil surface Break up the topsoil to a maximum depth of about 20cm (spade blade depth), or to the depth of existing topsoil. Do not be tempted to dig too deep as this will just turn up the subsoil and won’t help plants grow. Loosening the soil helps to aerate it and prepares it for adding organic materials. 4 Add organic matter Adding organic matter to the garden bed is essential to improving the soil structure and providing useable nutrients to the growing plants. Spread your compost or manure thickly over the surface. Make sure that you have plenty – the more the better. Rake it evenly over the bed. Five to 10cm is a really good covering. 5 Mix the organic matter with the soil Using a three-pronged hoe, fork or spade, gently mix the organic matter with the loosened soil surface. Do not dig the organic matter under the soil surface. Do not mix deeper than 20cm. Rake lightly to level the surface and break down any remaining lumps. 6 Leave the garden bed to settle Now that you have added what the garden needs, it must be left to settle for at least two weeks. This is because, while you prepared the bed, all the micro-organisms and small animals in the garden bed were disturbed or killed. They are very important to a healthy garden. Two weeks gives them time to re-establish themselves. Now would be a good time to release earthworms into the garden. 7 While the garden bed is settling There are many things that can be done while the garden bed is settling. Begin growing your seedlings so they are ready to plant out. Place borders around your garden beds to clearly mark paths and keep the garden looking neat. Place straw on pathways to suppress weeds and prevent muddy feet. Keep an eye on weed re-growth. 8 Final preparation • Remove any large weeds that have germinated while your garden has been settling. Very fine weeds can be left and raked into the soil later. Avoid walking over areas to be planted, your pathways should be marked clearly. • Using the hoe, break up all the large clods of soil which remain in the garden bed. Try to make the soil as fine as possible. • Rake the soil surface. Remove any large clods which can’t be broken up and make sure the surface is level. • Using your Garden Design Plan, measure out the areas where each vegetable will be planted and mark them with the pegs and string. • If you have decided to use furrow watering, form your furrows now before planting any seeds or seedlings.
  • 21. 20 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden 2 How to prepare a ‘no dig’ garden Before deciding on this preparation method, ensure that all materials are available. YOU WILL NEED: • pea straw • newspaper • straw • timber or bricks to border the garden • compost or decomposed manure • soil – preferably sterilised for weed seeds and screened for large particles PROCEDURE: 1 Mark out your garden area Mark out your garden area. Remember to allow for pathways so that all parts of your garden bed can be reached easily. Establish the borders with timber or bricks. 2 Spread newspaper Spread sheets of newspaper (at least six sheets thick) over the garden and path areas to kill the grass underneath. Make sure that there are no gaps between sheets by overlapping them by 4–5cm. 3 Spread pea straw Pea straw bales usually separate into ‘slices’ tease these out, ripping and shredding by hand. Evenly spread a layer of pea straw 10cm thick over the garden area. 4 Spread compost Evenly spread 2–3cm of compost or decomposed manure on top of the pea straw. 5 Spread straw Evenly spread another layer of straw (this time wheat or barley) 6 Spread top layer of soil Top off your layers with 10–15cm layer of soil. Your garden is now ready for planting. 3 How to Garden using ‘direct sowing’ YOU WILL NEED: • seed • rake PROCEDURE: 1 Moisten soil Make sure the soil is moist. A soaking two days before planting is best. 2 Mark out rows Using the handle of your rake, or any long narrow stick, lie it along your garden bed where you wish to plant the row. By pressing the rake handle gently into the soil, you can create a furrow in which you can plant the seeds. Repeat at the correct spacing for your rows. Check the information on the seed packet or in your planting guide to find out how far apart rows should be spaced and how deep the furrow should be.
  • 22. 21 3 Place seed in the furrow Large and medium sized seed can be placed be individually in the furrow at the proper spacing. Small or fine seed can be placed in the furrow by mixing the required amount of seed into a handful of sand and spreading the seed/sand mix thinly along the furrow. Alternatively, make a sharp fold in the top flap of the seed packet and using this fold as a lip, gently tap the seed packet with your fingers so that the fine seeds fall very thinly (one or two at a time) into the furrow. 4 Cover the seed Cover the seed, using either soil from the bed or some sand. Make sure the seed is buried to the correct depth according to the seed packet. 5 Water in seed Water in lightly with a fine mist spray. Do not water too hard as the seed will be dug out. Do not soak as too much water will exclude the air and can damage some seeds. 6 Keep bed moist During germination, the soil should not be allowed to dry out. During the hot weather it may be necessary to water lightly every day. A thin (20mm) layer of mulch will help to keep the soil moist. Do not cover the seed rows too deeply with mulch as it will stop the new plant emerging from the soil. 7 Thin out plants Once the new plants have emerged you may have to thin out the number of plants where you have sown fine seed. Check how far apart the plants should grow. Select the weakest looking seedlings and remove them from the row. Leave the strongest plants to grow. 4 How to build a ‘transplanting garden’ YOU WILL NEED: • seedlings • hoe • planting stick – a small pointed stick (10mm diameter) used to create holes in which to plant seedlings PROCEDURE: 1 Before planting Water the seedlings to be transplanted the day before planting. Make sure the soil in the garden bed is moist for planting. A good soaking 2–3 days before planting day is ideal. If your seedlings have been grown inside or if they have been bought from a garden centre, they should be placed in a reasonably sunny and exposed spot for a few days before planting. This is called ‘hardening off’ and will help your seedling survive transplanting. 1 Planting out Using your planting stick, mark where each seedling will be planted. Be sure to leave the correct space between each row and each plant. If you have furrows, water should run along the furrows but the seedling holes should be just above the level the water will reach in the furrow, and not in the bottom of the furrows. Tip your punnet of seedlings upside down holding your hand over the top of the punnet to catch the seedlings. Gently tap the bottom of the punnet with your other hand until the seedlings and soil become loose from the punnet in one complete block. If the soil in the punnet is moist, it should hold together well.
  • 23. 22 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Be extremely careful not to damage the fragile roots of the seedlings. Gently separate one seedling from the edge of the block of seedlings. Be careful to keep as much of the soil as possible around the seedling roots. Immediately make a hole using the planting stick large enough to comfortably hold the soil and root ball of the seedling. The hole should be deep enough for the seedlings to be planted at the same depth as in the punnet. Do not plant too deeply. When is the best time to plant out? The weather conditions in the garden while you are planting are quite important to successful growing. Planting should ideally take place on a cool, overcast day, two to three days after a good soaking rain. This assists in reducing transplant shock by helping prevent the soil moisture evaporating and by not rapidly drying the sensitive roots of seedlings are they are planted out. Avoid planting seeds and seedlings when the soil is saturated or waterlogged. This leads to an inadequate oxygen supply for the young plants and seeds alike. Working a saturated soil will also damage soil structure. Gently hold the seedling in place with one hand and the soil around the roots with the other. Push the soil around the roots firmly enough to hold the plant but do not pack down too tightly. If the soil is too tight, air and water will not be able to get to the roots and the roots will not be able to grow easily through the soil. Repeat this procedure for each seedling until all the seedlings are planted. 3 Watering Water the seedlings in immediately. Provide plenty of water gently so seedlings are not disturbed. Keep the soil around the seedlings moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Regular deep watering, every 2–3 days, is the best method. This encourages roots to grow deeply. Laying some organic mulch around the seedlings as soon as they are planted will help to keep the soil moist.
  • 24. 23 Chapter 4 Maintaining your garden Watering Adequate can mean the success or failure of a garden so it must be one of the major considerations when setting up. This does not just mean having a tap close by. It means making sure you get the right amount from the tap to the plants at the right time and in a manner which ensures minimal loss or wastage along the way. It is important to examine the conditions of your garden and the particular needs of your plants and develop a water plan accordingly. Consider each of the following when planning your water management. Climatic conditions • Temperature In hot conditions, water evaporates very quickly from soil and leaves. • Strong winds Strong winds also evaporate water rapidly. • Rainfall Plants can not be grown successfully in many climatic regions of Australian without at least some supplementary watering. The amount of extra water needed is dependent on the seasonal rainfall, wind and temperature. Soil type The soil type is a very important factor in determining the water needs of your garden. Light sandy soils have a lower water holding capacity than heavier clay soils, so need more frequent watering. Plant type The individual characteristics of each plant type will also determine the frequency and amount of water required. • Deep root vegetables draw water from deep in the soil so needing less frequent watering. Vegetables like pumpkin, tomato, parsnips and watermelon prefer a good watering every few days. • Shallow rooted vegetables have a smaller area of soil from which to draw their water and need to be watered more frequently. These include lettuce, cauliflower and cabbage. • Medium rooted vegetables prefer a moderate soaking every second day. • Large leafed plants such as cabbages, lettuces and pumpkins lose a great deal of water through transpiration. This greatly increases water requirements, especially when during hot or windy weather.
  • 25. 24 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Soaking is generally more efficient than a light spray. Also water jets which produce larger drops are more effective than a light spray which is more vulnerable to the effects of wind and evaporation. If an adequate soaking is given two to three times a week, deeper vigorous root growth is promoted. Water in the cool periods of the day, either early in the morning or in the evening. A huge amount of water is lost to evaporation if watering is undertaken during the hot periods of the day. This is even more important if using a fine spray to water. Do not water in strong winds, as much of the water sprayed will be blown away from where you intend it to go or will be evaporated. A windbreak around the garden that is in an exposed area will extensively reduce water loss. The best windbreaks are natural vegetation, which don’t block out all wind or light. Good organic mulches conserve water by: • reducing water evaporation from the soil by reducing wind speed at the soil surface to zero and by protecting the soil surface from direct sunlight. • preventing excessive run off and erosion and promoting better infiltration of water into the soil surface. By slowing the water down, more is able to soak into the soil surface. • preventing the formation of a sun baked crust on the soil surface which prevents water soaking in. This can be a particular problem with clay soils. • enabling gardeners to water heavily and less often, giving deep soakage. This ensures the soil remains constantly moist and that water is available to plants for longer periods, promoting deep and vigorous root growth. Soil preparation is also very important for effective water management in the garden. Well-structured soil with plenty of organic matter retains water more efficiently than poorly structured soil which is too sandy or has too much clay. Composting provides your soil with nutrient-rich organic material for water retention and healthy growth. Group plants of similar water needs together. Over-watering does not produce better plant growth, it just wastes water. Mulching Mulching is a very important aspect to gardening. Mulch is a layer of material that is laid down to protect the soil. Forests produce their own mulch by dropping leaves and branches and collections of other materials that accumulate on the soil surface. In the garden, we have to provide the material. The best mulches are things that will decompose quickly, providing nutrients for the soil and promoting new growth. Mulching also: • keeps the soil surface at a relatively constant temperature. This greatly extends the active periods for earthworms and other micro-fauna, even into the hot summer months, promoting soil improvement. • provides a constant supply of nutrients as they continuously decompose into the soil surface. • provides a constant supply of food and shelter for earthworms, promoting surface activity. • extends the growing period of many plants by insulating the soil and ensuring availability of water. • keeps down weed growth by excluding sunlight. • allows plant roots to use the top few centimetres of soil more efficiently.
  • 26. 25 Ten Top Mulches: • Compost: adds humus to the soil, helps to improve soil structure and allows good moisture penetration. • Grass clippings: high in nitrogen and other nutrients. Should be dried before use. • Pine bark: low nutrient, dense, acidic mulch. Slow to rot, it is good for paths. • Leaf litter: quick to break down into rich humus. Shred it before use. • Wood chips: long lasting but do not add many nutrients to the soil. • Cocopeat: made from waste coconut fibre. It is a good substitute for peatmoss. • Sawdust: must be composted before use. Good for paths and between rows of vegetables. • Rotted animal manure: high in nutrients. Avoid using fresh manure as the ammonia may burn the plants. • Seaweed: high in nutrients, rapidly enriched sandy soil. Ensure it is washed before use to remove surface salt. • Mushroom compost: different qualities vary in alkalinity. Check pH before using. Fertilising Plants need a variety of chemical elements to sustain healthy growth. Well-fed plants are better able to defend themselves against insect pests and are less susceptible to disease. Different plants have different nutrient requirements. It is important to research the nutrient requirements of the particular plants in your garden. See Appendix E: Facts on Fertilisers for more information on fertilising your garden. Weed control In any garden there are a range of unwanted, uncultivated plants which will appear. Often these plants will grow to the exclusion of the desired plants or crops and are known as weeds. In the garden, weeds, especially some extremely vigorous varieties, compete with the crops for vital plant needs such as space, nutrients, water and light. Uncontrolled weeds also provide a haven for disease and ideal breeding and hiding conditions for insect pests. Some weeds are very invasive (such as oxalis). These will quickly choke out young plants and ‘steal’ nutrients from the soil. Make sure you can recognise the real problem weeds and remove them immediately. There are many effective weed control strategies available to the home gardener without having to resort to spraying with dangerous herbicides that risk the fragile ‘life’ of the garden environment. A thorough understanding of some good gardening practices can remove the need for having to consider chemical conditions. Hand pulling, hoeing and chipping are the best methods of controlling weeds. Hand weeding is preferable in small spaces and is easier to do when it follows watering or rain and if it is done when
  • 27. 26 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden the weeds are young. Using a garden fork and trowel will help to remove the entire root system. When removing weeds around fragile roots systems, cut the weed off at the surface with a pair of scissors. This way the roots won’t be disturbed. Mulching helps to suppress weed growth in an environmentally friendly way. For areas where very tough perennial weeds or grasses are a problem, thick layers of newspaper under a layer of organic mulch can give extra help. It is important to remove weeds before they flower. Once they have flowered, produced and distributed their seeds, next season’s weeds are ready and waiting to go. Weeds can come from many places. Be careful what you bring into your garden. Animal manure should be composted before being used as this will kill weed seeds. Imported soils can bring a whole range of new weeds into your garden, so take care. Recycle the weeds you remove from your garden by putting them on the compost heap. That way the nutrients they have used and stored can later be replaced in the garden. Prevention is better than cure. Control weeds before they become a major problem. This is especially important while seedlings are young and fragile. Pests and diseases The first line of defence against garden pests and diseases is prevention. A garden which has strong, vigorously growing plants, where good gardening techniques are used, which does not provide an insect/pest breeding haven, will be less susceptible to pest and disease attack. The second line of defence is a sharp eye. If a gardener can recognise the symptoms of diseases or the telltale calling cards of insects and pests easily, it is often possible to take simple measures to prevent catastrophe. Knowing how to react once a problem is discovered is important. How to prevent pests and diseases Make sure that the plants in your garden are strong and healthy. Give them all the things that they need. The strongest plants are attacked last and they stand the greatest chance of a successful recovery. Keep weeds in the garden area under control. Garden pests, like all living creatures, need the right conditions to thrive and multiply. Many garden pests love tall weeds to grow and breed in; if you don’t control the weeds, you are encouraging the pests. Remove rubbish and other great hiding places. Piles of rubbish, bricks, wood and pots provide wonderful breeding environments for many pests. By keeping the garden area clean you are controlling the environment. Rotate crops around your garden each season. If the same crop is grown in the same location season after season, it encourages healthy populations of soil-borne pests and diseases. Grow your own insect repellents. This is one of the uses of ‘companion planting’. Many herbs and flowers can be grown in the vegetable garden specially for their repelling qualities. Look for the right varieties in a companion planting book.
  • 28. 27 Natural controls Make your garden a healthy place for the ‘good guys’ to be. Only a few creatures in the garden are pests; many of the good creatures help to control the pests naturally by preying on them. Do not use chemical sprays and poisons as these may harm the helpful spiders, birds and insects as well as the pests. Here are some of nature’s own controls: • Birds: help to keep many insects pests under control. Attract them into your garden by growing plants that feed and shelter them, such as fruit trees. • Ladybirds: feed on aphids, mites, mealy bugs and scales. • Praying mantis: feeds on aphids and thrips. • Mud wasps: feeds on many types of caterpillars. • Hoverflies larvae: attach and eat aphids. • Dragonflies: eat mosquitoes, flies, small beetles and wasps. For more information on pests in the garden refer to Appendix H Common Garden Pests.
  • 29. 28 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Appendix A Creating a container garden Points to consider Type of pots There are many different types of pots for growing plants. It is important to choose the right pot for your needs. 1 Plastic pots Plastic pots are cheap, durable, colourful and light to move around. Being waterproof, they do not dry out as fast as porous containers and thus need less frequent watering and feeding. 2 Timber containers Wooden pots or containers usually look attractive and are also waterproof. The disadvantages of wood include its weight and the fact that it will eventually rot, although this usually takes a long time. Raise wooden pots off the surface to minimise rotting beneath. 3 Ceramic pots Ceramic pots include unglazed terracotta and glazed earthenware or stoneware. Glazed pots and unglazed stoneware containers are waterproof, but terracotta pots are porous. This means that they can dry out fast and always require more frequent watering than waterproof containers. More frequent watering means more frequent feeding as watering washes some nutrients out of the soil with every application. The disadvantages of ceramic pots include their fragility, weight and cost. 4 Concrete containers Because of their weight, concrete pots are best placed permanently. Although they vary in size, weight and cost are the main disadvantages of these pots. Pot size It is important when creating a container garden, to match the potential size of the plant to the size of the pot. Plants that are grown in a pot that is too small quickly fill the pot with their roots and require frequent watering. Conversely, if the pot is too big and without roots to extract the water, much of the soil will remain permanently damp and stagnant and may lead to rotting of the roots. Potting mixes A good quality potting mix is essential when growing plants in containers. Quality potting mixes are clean, weed-free and disease-free. They are designed to be fast draining yet moisture retentive, and because they are relatively lightweight, it makes it easier to move pots around. There are specially formulated mixes for plants with special needs. Be sure to choose a potting mix that suits the requirements of your plants.
  • 30. 29 Drainage Good-sized drainage holes are vital in pots as even the best potting mix won’t drain if there is nowhere for the water to go. Avoid pots with drain holes that seem too small for the volume of soil they will contain, or drill some more holes if possible. Although it is not strictly necessary with today’s potting mixes, to ensure adequate drainage, fill the bottom of the pot with a layer of broken pots or coarse gravel. Avoid standing the pots in a saucer of water as this can easily lead to waterlogging. It is best to raise the bottom of the pot off the ground using bricks, stones or pot feet. This will allow excess water to drain freely away, minimising damage to the bottom of the pot. However, in some circumstances, such as indoor plants, it is not practical to allow the water to drain away. In this case, use saucers to catch excess water but remove this water as soon as possible. Watering It is important to water potted plants when they need it rather than to schedule. This will be much more often in summer than in winter, in sun than in shade, in porous than waterproof pots, in smaller than in bigger pots and in a windy position than a sheltered spot. Feel the top 3cm of soil to test if the plant requires watering: if it feels quite moist, do not water, but if it feels just damp, it is time to water. Be sure not to let the potting mix dry out completely, as it can then be quite difficult to re-wet. Fertilising Potting mixes contain little or no plant foods and you should blend some into the mix at planting time. The amount to add will vary with the size of the pot and the type of fertiliser but in all cases it is better to add too little rather than too much, as this can kill the plants. Giving too little just makes the plants grow slowly and this is easily fixed. Only apply fertiliser during the growing season for that particular plant. Most plants grow most vigorously from spring to mid-autumn and do not need fertiliser from the end of summer until early spring. Always apply fertiliser to moist potting mix and always at the recommended rates. Slow- release fertilisers are the most convenient for potted plants.
  • 31. 30 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Appendix B Creating a school compost bin Points to consider What can you compost? • Grass clippings: mix them with other, coarser material or else they will become very hot when they rot and will turn into green slime. • Fallen leaves: slow to rot unless mixed with other compost matter. • Weeds: be careful about which weeds you compost – avoid menace weeds such as oxalis, onion weed and nutgrass bulbs. Weeds in seed are also a problem, as the compost may not get hot enough to destroy the seeds. • Prunings: chop them up into small pieces – use a mulcher if possible. • Kitchen scraps: Include fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and tea leaves or bags. Avoid adding too much citrus peel as this can upset the worms. Potato peelings are a problem if the eyes sprout into a potato vine – this will steal nitrogen from your pile so pull it out. Eggshells should be crushed. Meat scraps should be avoided as they can attract flies and rats. • Manure: adds nitrogen and helps vegetable matter to rot. Best if a few weeks old before it goes in. • Straw: smaller lengths (25mm) are better. • Sawdust: sets like cement on its own so mix it with other stuff and throw in an activator such as well-rotted poultry manure. • Carpet fluff and hair: empty out the vacuum cleaner if your carpet is 100% natural fibre. Avoid if your carpet is synthetic, as the fibres will not decompose. • Fertiliser: throw in any leftover ‘organic’ fertiliser. • Ash: ash from burnt wood (not coal) is useful.
  • 32. 31 What can’t you compost? • Plastic, glass and metal: These have a way of sneaking in if you are not careful. Remember that cigarette packs are lined with aluminium foil. • Rubber: It may come from trees, but it will take years to break down. • Oil: Fried foods and salad dressings with oils should be avoided. The oil sets like a lacquer and stops them rotting. • Dairy foods: These may smell, attract pests and take a long time to decompose. • Diseased plants: Your compost heap may not get hot enough to kill off the disease organisms. Dispose of them in the rubbish bin instead. • Cat litter: There are a number of potential pathogens in cat litter, and they can be transferred to the compost. • Paper: Newspaper shredded small is okay if you throw in some poultry manure, but glossy magazine paper decomposes too slowly. Getting the mix just right Just piling up any old mix of garden rubbish doesn’t guarantee great compost. There should be 25–30 times more carbon than nitrogen for it to work well. You can estimate it by weight if you like, but if you get in the habit of composting everything you can, you should end up with an okay mix. What’s high in carbon? Woody prunings (chopped small), sawdust, hay, shredded paper, fallen leaves. What’s high in nitrogen? Grass clippings, green plants, old flowers, animal manure, fruit and vegetable scraps, seaweed, hair. A typical compost recipe includes: • 10cm of food scraps, excluding meat scraps • 10cm grass clippings, leaves or prunings • 2cm poultry manure • 10cm food scraps • 10cm grass clippings, leaves or prunings • light dusting of agricultural lime • 10cm food scraps • 10cm grass clippings, leaves or prunings • 10cm torn up or shredded, moistened paper • dusting of blood and bone or wood ash.
  • 33. 32 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden The perfect compost pile The ideal way to build your compost pile is to fill your bin all at once, with a 15cm layer of one matter, then a sprinkling of activator (blood and bone or poultry manure), a layer of something different, more activator and so on until you reach the top. Water as you go to keep the matter moist, but not soggy, then thatch the whole thing with a layer of straw. Once it’s done, start a new pile. You need about a cubic metre of matter to achieve a critical mass. The easy way to compost Most of us build up a compost pile over many weeks with a catcherful of grass, kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, etc. throw in a handful of blood and bone or poultry manure along with the rubbish. When your pile’s up to a cubic metre, start turning it – if you never turn your heap, it will compost more slowly. The really lazy way to compost is to just have one bin, piling new stuff on top and scooping finished compost out from the bottom. How often should you compost? Turning compost mixes the ingredients, aerates the pile and speeds up the process. For fast compost, turn the pile every three days for two weeks, and then leave the pile undisturbed for another week. You’ll have compost in three weeks. For lazy compost, turn the pile every six weeks to three months and you will have compost in six months. Don’t turn compost more than suggested here or the pile will not decompose at all. Compost troubleshooting • Your compost heap smells The pile is too wet or compacted and isn’t getting enough air. Anaerobic bacteria (the ones that don’t need oxygen) have set to work and are giving off hydrogen sulphide (smells like rotten eggs). Take a garden stake or broom handle and stab the heap as deeply as you can in half a dozen places to let in the air. If it still smells, give the heap a good turn and add some straw or sawdust to help dry it out. Adding lime may also help. • The pile is not rotting Your pile may be too small or there is too much dry material and not enough moisture and nitrogen- rich green matter to feed the bacteria. If your pile is less than a cubic metre, make it bigger. Make sure woody matter is cut into 25mm lengths. If it is too dry, mix some nitrogen-rich soluble fertiliser or poultry manure in a bucket of water and add to the pile. • You’ve got rats and flies You’ve put the wrong sort of food scraps in. Bury scraps in the middle of the heap and put a layer of soil on top of the pile. Weigh down the lid with a rock to stop rats and possums getting in. • There’s an ammonia smell Composting bacteria have gone overboard producing nitrogen. Is there too much green matter in the pile? Add straw or dead leaves and put a layer of soil on top to trap the nitrogen. • There is an ant infestation Your compost pile is too dry. Add water and fresh cucumber peels.
  • 34. 33 Appendix C Creating a school worm farm Points to consider What’s good for worms? • Vegetable scraps, fruit peels • Tea bags and leaves, coffee grounds • Egg shells, hair • Paper towel, flattened torn-up cardboard, shredded newspaper. • Animal manure • Leaves, weeds and lawn clippings. What’s not good for worms? • Onion skins and citrus peel – they are too acidic for worms • Meat, fat, bones, bread and dairy products • Avoid seeds like pumpkin, tomato and pawpaw, which will pop up in the garden when the worm castings are spread around. Where to make a worm farm? Worms like to live in moist but not wet conditions, so it is important that the soil on which you place the bed drain freely. They also like shade in summer and sun in winter. Under the north side of a tree or big shrub is ideal. How to make a worm farm You can buy a PVC stackable worm farm or build a simple bed on the ground. A bed 1m x 60cm is a good size to start with and can be easily expanded if necessary. The sides need to be about 10–20cm high. You can use old palings, scrap hardwood planking or treated pine.
  • 35. 34 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden PROCEDURE: • Clear the area and mark out the boundaries of the bed. • Hammer together a simple rectangular box. Join the ends together through a 50 x 50mm square peg in each corner. If using hardwood you’ll find drilling and screwing is easier than hammering. • Divide the box in half with a strip of old chicken wire, making two chambers, one on the left and one on the right. This means you can harvest the castings without taking the worms. Getting started • On one side of the bed, put down a 50mm thick layer of natural materials, such as shredded newspaper, leaves, sawdust or compost. • Moisten, then add a container of worms. Usually, red wrigglers or tiger worms come in containers of 1000. • Next add finely chopped or blended kitchen waste. Sprinkle on a little sand or potting mix and cover with a piece of old wool carpet or hessian, cut to fit. As well as food scraps, periodically add more sand and potting mix. Keep moist. Collecting the castings • When the first chamber is full, start on the second chamber. As the food supply in the first chamber runs out, the worms will move over into the second one. Worms find watermelon rind irresistible and they’ll soon move over if you put some in the second chamber. • Don’t touch the first chamber for a month or more. Then, if no worms are visible, rake the castings to one side and shovel up. If worms are still there wait a bit longer. Spread the castings around the garden thinly and if possible dig them into the soil. Don’t forget the pots too. Worm water A gentle way to distribute the goodness of worm castings onto the garden is to make them into liquid fertiliser. Tip the castings into a plastic rubbish bin or other container. Fill with water and let stand a day or two to settle. Scoop out the water and pour onto the garden. Refill with fresh water and repeat until the water is no longer the colour of tea. Tip out the spent castings thinly onto the garden. Using a worm farm with glass sides, you can also create a small farm so that the students are able to clearly see what is happening. YOU WILL NEED: • Worm farm with glass sides • Black plastic sheet • Old hessian bag • Two soil types – ideally light loamy soil (ensure two distinct colours) • Partly composted organic material • Supply of vegetable scraps • 50 earthworms.
  • 36. 35 PROCEDURE 1 Using the two different coloured soils and the compost material, begin to place them in loose layers in your worm farm. Create layers approximately 2cm thick. Ensure soil is moist. 2 Make the top layer of soil 5cm deep. 3 Your farm should have a striped appearance. 4 Dig a small hole in one end of your farm and bury a handful of vegetable scraps. 5 Your farm is now ready for the worms. 6 Place the worms on the surface. They will quickly bury themselves as they try to escape from the light. 7 Cover the glass sides with black plastic. Attach the plastic at the top of the farm, leaving the bottom unattached so that you have made a flap which can be lifted easily to view the worms. 8 Cover the top of your farm with a piece of the old hessian bag, folding it until it is thick enough to stop light getting through. Do not place the plastic over the top of the farm or the worms will not be able to breathe. 9 Keep the cover moist at all times. 10 Lift the plastic flap and look carefully at your farm. On the record sheet, draw your farm, showing the different layers. Make sure you measure them and try to draw them to scale. 11 Every three days, lift the plastic flap, examine your farm and carefully sketch what you see. 12 Compare the changes.
  • 37. 36 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Appendix D Garden tools Pick The pick is an implement with two extended narrow blades running at right angles to the wooden handle. The pick is sturdy and heavy, designed to penetrate and break up compacted soil and to excavate hard areas. The pick is used with a swinging action, utilising its won weight and velocity to penetrate and break up the surface. The pick is an extremely dangerous tool due to the sharp ends of the blades and to the large swinging action required to use it. It is recommended that, when this tool is being used, all children leave the area. The use if this implement is not recommended for children under 12 years old. Mattock The mattock is similar to the pick with shorter, wider blades. The mattock, when being used for excavation, is used in a similar fashion to the pick and is generally used for less compacted soil. The mattock can also be used as a tool for chipping weeds. When used for this purpose, a short back swing is used to bring the flat blade down in a chopping action across the surface. The mattock is a dangerous tool due to its weight, the back swing required and the blade style. It is recommended that, when this tool is being used, all children leave the area. The use of this implement is not recommended for children under 12 years of age. Spade The spade’s function is to dig the earth. It has a flat, rectangular, metal blade for this purpose. The top edge of the blade is bent over to provide a small ledge on which to place a foot to assist penetration of the soil. Small-bladed versions are available which are light enough for most children to use. Always place the spade’s blade on the surface before pushing the soil rather than thrusting at the soil, as the spade can easily slip and injure the feet of the user or another child. Fork The fork may be also used to dig over the earth, especially when the soil is more compacted or clay- like and hard to penetrate with a spade. Approximately the same size as a spade, a fork has four prongs in place of the rectangular blade. Smaller versions are available of suitable weight for children. The prongs of the fork can easily penetrate a foot or a leg. It should not be raised above the knee and should be pressed into the soil and then assisted with a foot. Hoe The hoe has a long, thin wooden handle and a small, flat, metal blade at right angles to the handle. It is used in a low chipping action to break up large clods of earth and remove weeds. It is not designed
  • 38. 37 to break up hard earth and should not be used with a high swinging action. The hoe is a light implement, light enough for children aged between 10 and 12 years to use. The blade on a hoe is quite sharp and if swung around is potentially dangerous. The blade should not be lifted above knee height, and should be used under adult supervision only. Three-pronged hoe or weeder The three-pronged hoe has a long thin, wooden handle with three curved prongs (approximately 15cm long) attached. The prongs act to scarify the soil surface and remove weeds and grass roots. The three-pronged hoe is used in a dragging and pushing motion. This hoe is very useful for final weeding and loosening before planting if your site has been left for a while since the original cultivation. It is light and easy to use. The three prongs of the hoe are very sharp. The prongs should not be lifted above knee height. As the hoe is used in a pushing and pulling motion through the soil, there is no need to swing it at all. It should only be used under adult supervision. The Dutch hoe Similar to the hoe, the Dutch hoe has a long thin handle with a small, flat metal blade. The blade on a Dutch hoe, however, is set at approximately 30 degrees to the handle. It is used to remove weeds from your prepared garden bed. The blade is pushed across the surface and severs the weeds at the soil level, where the leaves join the roots. There is no need to lift the blade above knee level. When being used, the blade should always be in contact with the ground. As the blade should be kept quite sharp to be effective, care must be taken and should only be used under adult supervision. Steel rake The rake has a long, thin handle with a wide head containing a number of short prongs that are evenly spaced across the head. The rake is used to spread soil and level the garden bed. It will also remove the large clods of soil that can be broken up and replaced into the bed. The rake is used in a pushing and dragging motion across the surface of the soil. It is important to remember that the wider the head of a rake, the more difficult it is for children to use. Narrow-headed rakes with fewer prongs are available for children to use. The rake should not be raise above knee height. There is no application, which requires a swing action. Rakes should not be left lying on the ground with the prongs poking up as this could cause serious injury if stepped on. It is recommended that an adult supervise children when using a rake. Shovel Similar to a spade in appearance, a shovel has a rectangular metal blade. Unlike a spade, a shovel blade is not flat but rather curved so it can hold a large load. The shovel is used for scooping up soil, rocks and stones for transfer from one location to another. Shovels are generally too heavy to be used by young children.
  • 39. 38 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden The shovel should not be used for digging. When using a shovel to move material from a pile, always take from the base of the pile to avoid the blade skating over the pile and striking nearby gardeners. As the shovel must sometimes be used with a small back swing, it should be checked that all other gardeners are standing clear. Hand trowel The hand trowel is a small digging implement with a flattish blade and a short handgrip attached. The hand trowel is used for digging small holes in which to plant seedlings The trowel is an extremely safe implement to use as it is small and light. Because of its size and weight, it is tempting for gardeners to throw hand trowels. This is an unsafe practice as the trowel can strike other gardeners or cause soil to flick into other’s eyes. The hand trowel is recommended for use with children. Hand weeder The three-pronged hand weeder is similar to a miniature three-pronged hoe and serves the same purpose. It consists of three heavy curved wire prongs attached to a handgrip. The tool is dragged through the soil to remove weeds. It is an excellent tool for the final weeding of small individual plots in preparation for planting and for carefully weeding around seedlings as they grow. This is another safe and practical implement when used correctly. It is safe unless thrown and is recommended for use with children. Hand fork The hand fork is a miniature version of the garden fork and is designed for similar use but on a smaller scale. The hand fork usually has four straight prongs attached to a handgrip. It can be used for digging over heavier soils and also for weeding. The hand fork is another safe and useful tool for children to use unless it is thrown.
  • 40. 39 Appendix E Facts on fertilizers Before we talk about fertilisers, we should discuss the roles of different nutrients in providing optimal soil health. Essential plant nutrients Older leaves with uniform yellowing, often with reddish tints; premature maturity; retarded growth; excessive leaf loss Signs of deficiency Nitrogen Nutrient Builds vegetative growth and heightens foliage colour Function Stunted growth; blue-green or bronze toning on older leaves Phosphorus Helps flowers, fruits, seeds and roots to develop and strengthen stems Leaf margins scorched; Spotting surrounded by pale zones on leaves Potassium Assists chlorophyll formation, flowering and root development and respiration; increases disease resistance; strengthens stems Patchy yellowing on older leaves with dark green triangular pattern at the base of the leaf; excessive leaf loss Magnesium Assist with chlorophyll and photosynthesis Distorted stems; curling and mottling of older leaves Molybdenum Aids the formation of nodules in legumes and the enzymes used in nitrogen fixation Yellowish or light green areas between veins on both younger and older leaves; water-soaked spots develop on foliage Manganese Required for enzyme systems, which result in oxidation of sugars and chlorophyll formation Yellowing of young leaves with veins remaining green; youngest leaves become almost white; reduction in leaf size and early leaf fall Iron Needed for the proteins in chlorophyll synthesis and in enzymes Reduced leaf size; twisted foliage; creamy- white to yellow blotches or mottling on young leaves first Zinc Required for chlorophyll synthesis and in enzymes Tip curling; blackening and early shedding of young leaves Calcium Helps to build healthy roots and cell walls Yellowing leaf margins; dimpled apples; hollow stems in cauliflower; distorted leaves on beetroot Boron Affects the growth of stems and root tips; contributes to protein synthesis; is related to calcium and potassium use Twisted and curling foliage; tips of young leaves wilt and die; leaves darken to blue-green colour Copper Important for the enzyme function and is stored in the leaves Yellowing on young leaves; reduction in size and failure to mature Sulphur Aids chlorophyll synthesis and root formation Yellowing of leaves; stunting and early maturing Cobalt Needed for nitrogen fixation and therefore important for legumes
  • 41. 40 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Types of Fertiliser There are two types of fertilisers: organic (animal or vegetable in origin) or inorganic (chemical). Organic fertilisers • Blood and bone A natural slow-release fertiliser, blood and bone is mild enough to use on all plants. It contains nitrogen and phosphorus, sometimes calcium and a very small amount of potassium. • Animal manure Animal manure is organic matter. All types contain plant nutrients but some are richer than others. Horse manure is fairly mild, cow manure is a little stronger, and pig and chicken manure are both extremely strong. All fresh manures should be piled up and allowed to rot for at least a month before use or you may kill the plants around which they are applied. Composting animal manures will also kill any weed seeds that it may contain. Inorganic fertilisers • Complete plant foods Complete plant foods all contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Most also contain calcium, magnesium and sulphur and the trace elements although some do not. Complete plant foods do not suit all types of plants as they may be too rich for some and too mild for others. • Slow-release fertilisers Many chemical fertilisers quickly release all their nutrients into the soil, giving the plants a sudden boost. However, rain or frequent watering soon washes the nutrients out of the soil, necessitating another dose of fertiliser. Slow-release fertilisers on the other hand, react with water and temperature to exude a continuous supply of nutrients for up to a year. They are expensive but do provide a constant food source. Dig in if possible. • Superphosphate ‘Super’ provides plants with an instantly useable source of phosphorus and a hefty dose of calcium and sulphur as well. It is good for peas, beans, lupins and all other legumes. A little is good but a lot can be toxic. A quick glance at the fertiliser section of the local nursery demonstrates that there is a huge range of specialised and all-purpose fertilisers available for sale, both artificial and natural in origin. Be careful when selecting commercial fertilisers. While many artificially (chemically) produced fertilisers may provide very precise levels of essential nutrients, they can damage small animal and microorganism populations. When necessary to purchase a commercial fertiliser, select from the range of natural or organic fertilisers and follow the instructions for distribution precisely. If fertilisers are applied too liberally, plant damage is likely to occur. The safest and most general purpose fertiliser for the home gardener is a well-rotted compost. If compost is made from a good range of organic materials, it will provide plants with all the nutrients essential for healthy growth. It is difficult to provide too much compost to the garden as it is a slow- release fertiliser, releasing nutrients as it is broken down by small animals and microorganisms in the soil. Compost is simple to apply and has the added bonus of acting as mulch, assisting with soil moisture retention and promoting microorganism activity in the soil. Simply mulch the area with compost 5cm thick and water in. Do not dig in.
  • 42. 41 Liquid fertiliser A simple, cheap and safe alternative to compost is a ‘homemade’ liquid fertiliser. Made from animal manure and/or blood and bone, this type of fertiliser is rich in nutrients, and presents little danger or harm to plants if well diluted. YOU WILL NEED: • animal manure or compost • large drum or plastic garbage bin • hessian bag • water • string • long stick or broom handle PROCEDURE 1 Fill bag with manure and/or compost Fill the hessian bag with animal manure or compost or a mixture of both. Tie the neck of the bag tightly. 2 Fill the drum/bin Fill the drum or garbage bin with water. Make sure the drum is clean. Any residue must be washed out as they might harm your plants later. 3 Suspend bag in the water Lay the long stick across the top of the drum. Tie the bag of manure to the stick and suspend it in the water. 4 Cover drum Cover the top of the drum. This will keep insects and rubbish out of your brew. It will also keep the smell in. After a few weeks, your cheap liquid fertiliser is ready to use. Scoop some into a watering can and dilute it until it is the colour of weak tea. Feed your plants regularly with this liquid fertiliser. Check with your planting guide to see which plants need the most food. It is best to apply the fertiliser with a watering can just after the garden has been watered or just after rain.
  • 43. 42 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Appendix F Plant selection guide The following charts give you information about some common fruit, vegetable, herb and nut varieties. Use the guidelines to make a list of those plants that can be grown in your garden. Before you start, you need to know: • what climate zone you live in • how much sunlight your garden receives • what type of soil you have in your garden • how many weeks you have to grow your plants. PROCEDURE: • Read through the special conditions and disregard any plants, which definitely do not match your garden’s conditions. It is important to remember that soils can be improved with thorough preparation. • Make a list of those fruit, vegetables, herbs and nut trees that could be grown in your garden. Australian climate zones Tropical Australian climate zones Humid sub-tropical Dry sub tropical Mediterranean Temperate Cool temperate Semi-arid Hot arid
  • 44. 43 Zone 1: Tropical Humid and warm to hot all year. Much more rain falls in summer than in the rest of the year with winter being dry or relatively dry and less humid. In the lowland tropics, night temperature rarely fall below 15°C but overnight lows of 5°C have been recorded in Townsville. In highland tropical areas light frosts are possible and winter days may be cool and drizzly for long periods of time. Zone 2: Humid subtropical Humid with mild winters and hot summers. The warmest months are the wettest and annual rainfall is high. Near the coast frosts are light or unknown but further inland lows of –4°C can occur and in the valleys of elevated areas, extremes of –10°C are possible, although extremely rare. Humidity is relatively high year round, very high in summer. Zone 3: Dry subtropical Dry, mild winters with hot summers. Most rain falls in summer but annual rainfall is only moderate. Light, overnight frosts are common in winter with extremes of –9°C possible, but winter days are sunny and mild to warm. Humidity is generally low except during the wettest three months of the year. Zone 4: Mediterranean Cool to mild winters with hot, dry summers. Most of the year’s rain falls from mid-autumn to late winter but the total annual rainfall is moderate at best. Frosts, if any are light and humidity in this zone is generally low. As in other zones, inland or elevated areas can be much colder than the coastal areas. Inland areas are usually drier as well. Zone 5: Temperate Cool winters with warm to hot summers. Annual rainfall is moderate to high and either evenly spread throughout the year or slightly higher in winter. In coastal temperate areas, frosts are light or unknown but in elevated or inland parts, lows of –13°C, with or without snowfalls, are possible but rare. Winter days are often grey. Humidity is moderate to high year-round, depending on rainfall. Zone 6: Cool temperate Cool to cold winters with mild to warm summers. Annual rainfall is moderate to high and either evenly spread or high in winter. Light to moderate frosts are common and extremes of -20°C are possible. Winter days can remain cold, cloudy and damp for very long periods and snowfalls are relatively common. Humidity is moderate. Zone 7: Semi-arid Mild winters with hot, dry summers. Annual rainfall is moderate to low and may be heaviest in winter or in summer or be fairly evenly spread. Extended periods of drought occur periodically. Frosts are common but generally light although extremes of -10°C are possible. Snow may fall in the higher parts. Humidity is always low. Zone 8: Hot arid Mild, dry winters with hot, dry summers. Annual rainfall is very low and unpredictable and may fall mostly in summer or in winter. Humidity is always low. Light to moderate frosts are common with extreme lows of –10°C possible. Winter days are almost always sunny and mild to warm. Long droughts are common.
  • 45. 44 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Fruit selection guide Growing your own fruit can be very rewarding. Although some trees may take a number of seasons before they begin bearing fruit, the long term advantages of fruit trees are numerous. Many fruit trees are also very beautiful and will be an additional feature to any garden. Trees also provide valuable shade for children to play under. Consider planting a grape or passionfruit vine over a pergola to create a cool and shading environment. Choosing the best site Choose a site well away from larger trees with strong root systems. Preferably the site should be open to full sun yet protected from strong winds. A gradual slope will prevent waterlogging during heavy rains. Vine plants will require a trellis or frame for support. These are best running north-south so both sides get some sun each day. Preparing the soil Spend some time preparing the site for your tress before you actually plant. All fruit trees will benefit from a well prepared, mounded planting area with composting organic matter incorporated into the soil. A thick layer of mulch will help to retain moisture. When to plant Planting seasons vary for different trees. Deciduous trees, such as peaches are best planted as bare root trees in the winter to spring period. Citrus fruits can be planted out of pots ant time but the best stocks are available from autumn through to spring. Do I need to cross-pollinate? Many fruit trees are self-fertile and will bear fruit without the need from cross-pollination. Those which are self-infertile need to be planted near a cross pollinator to get satisfactory fruit set. A cross pollinator is another specific variety of the same fruit that flowers at the same time. Self-infertile fruits are apples, apricots, pears, most plums, kiwi fruit, avocado, and olives.
  • 46. 45 Midsummer to midwinter depending on variety Fruiting season Apple Fruit Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefer deep, well-drained soils and tolerate quite acid soils. Keep soil moist throughout growing season. Provide plenty of organic matter. Apply high potassium fertiliser in spring. Gardening tips Prefers zones 5, 6 & 7 and cooler parts of 2 & 4 Mid to late summerApricot Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefer well- drained, limey soils or shallow, acid clay loams. Provide a nitrogen fertiliser in autumn. Prefers zones 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. Autumn, winter or spring depending on variety Avocado Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers well- drained soils. Water deeply, weekly in summer, less often in spring and autumn. Provide plenty of organic matter. Apply complete plant food every six weeks from late spring to late summer. Prefers zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7 All year roundBanana Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefer well- drained, deep fertile soils. Keep soil moist but do not allow to be come waterlogged. Provide plenty of organic matter. Mulch well if soil is sandy to improve water retention. Prefers zones 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Late spring to early autumn depending on variety Blueberry Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefer well- drained soil. Keep soil moist but do not allow to become waterlogged. Provide plenty of organic matter and mulch well, particularly in autumn. Can be grown in all zones depending on variety Mid to late springCherry Need a sunny position. Prefer well-drained, deep soil and do not tolerate being waterlogged. Occasionally feed with a nitrogen fertiliser. Prefers zones 5 and 6. Mid-summer to mid-spring Custard apple Need protection from wind. Prefers well-drained sandy loam soil but will grow in well-structured clay loam as well. Keep soil consistently moist, particularly during fruit set and development. Prefers zones 1, 2 and 3. Summer and autumnFig Need a sunny, wind-protected position Prefers well- drained soil. Water well from mid-autumn to mid- spring. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with organic matter. Can be grown in all zones except warm parts of 2 and cold parts of 6 April to AugustGrapefruit Need protection from wind Water frequently from spring to the middle of autumn and less frequently during winter. Provide plenty of organic matter in late winter and again at midsummer. Can be grown in all zones except zone 8. Late autumn and winter Kiwi fruit Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Water generously while the vine has leaves and less frequently during winter. Prefers well-drained soils. Provide a high nitrogen complete plant food in early spring and again during summer. Prefers zone 5 but can be grown in zones 2, 4 & 6 Late summer and autumn Grape High humidity is not helpful Need protection from wind. Suit a wide variety of soils but do best if well drained. Water deeply but infrequently. Provide plenty of organic matter if the soil is poor. Prefers zones 2, 4, 5 & 7 but will also grow in zones 6 & 8. Climate zone
  • 47. 46 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Autumn to spring Fruiting season Lemon Fruit Need protection from wind. Water frequently from spring to the middle of autumn and less frequently during winter. Provide plenty of organic matter in late winter and again at midsummer. Gardening tips Prefers zones 2, 3, 4 and warmer parts of 5. If grown in zones 7 & 8, protection from frosts is essential. ‘Meyer’ variety can be grown in milder parts of zone 6 February to JuneLime Need protection from wind. Water frequently from spring to the middle of autumn and less frequently during winter. Provide plenty of organic matter in late winter and again at midsummer. Can be grown in all zones except zone 8. November to MarchLychee Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers a well-drained, fertile soil. Keep soil moist. Provide plenty of organic matter and mulch well to assist soil retain moisture. Prefers zones 1, 2 and 3. Early autumn until spring depending on variety Mandarin Need protection from wind. Water frequently from spring to mid-autumn and less frequently during winter. Provide organic matter in late winter and again at midsummer. Prefers zones 2, 4, & 5. If grown in zones 3 & 7, protection from frosts is essential. Mid-spring to autumn depending on climate Mango Prefers an open sunny position, with protection from strong winds. Water in late spring, giving plenty over summer, less during autumn and none during winter and first half of spring. Prefers well-drained soil. Do not feed until plants are well established and then provide a light ration of complete plant food two or three times during summer. Prefers zone 1, the warm, northern parts of zone 2 and frost-free parts of zone 7 Mid-spring to early summer Mulberry Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers well- drained soil but will tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions. If rainfall is irregular, water frequently. It is not necessary to provide much organic matter unless soil conditions are very poor. Can be grown in zones 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 Late summer and autumn Olive Prefers warm sunny position. Olives are able to grown in poor soil conditions therefore providing organic matter is not necessary. If necessary, water deeply especially during winter but do not allow to become waterlogged. Prefers zone 4 but will grow in zones 2, 5, 6 & 7 ‘Navel’ oranges ripen in autumn and early winter. ‘Valencia’ oranges ripen in spring and summer Orange Need protection from wind. Water frequently during the warmer months and less frequently during winter. Provide organic matter in late winter and again at midsummer. Prefers zones 2, 4, 5 and 7 but will grow in zones 1, 3 & 8 Late spring to early autumn Passionfruit Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers sandy soils, well enriched with organic matter. Keep soil moist once flowers appear. Water frequently during summer and less frequently during autumn. From spring to early autumn, feed every 6 weeks with a high nitrogen fertiliser. Prefers zone 2, coastal parts of zone 4 and warm parts of zone 5. Climate zone
  • 48. 47 Spring to late summer Fruiting season Pawpaw Fruit Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers well- drained slightly acid soil. Water frequently from late spring to early autumn and less frequently during winter. Provide organic matter monthly from mid- spring to the end of summer. Gardening tips Prefers zones 1, 2, 3 and warmer parts of 4 Late spring to early autumn depending on variety Peach and nectarine Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers fertile, well-drained soils, although is tolerate of most soil types. Keep soil moist, especially throughout growing season. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with plenty of organic matter. Apply a high nitrogen fertiliser in autumn. Prefers zones 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Midsummer to midwinter depending on variety Pear Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers deep, well-drained, heavy loam soils enriched with organic matter. Keep soil moist. Can be grown in all zones except zones 1 and 8 All year roundPineapple Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers well-drained soil. Keep soil moist and mulch well to retain moisture. Provide plenty of organic matter. Prefers zones 1, 2, and 3. Late spring and summer depending on variety Plum Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Water regularly once flowers appear. Keep moist at all other times. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with plenty of organic matter, avoiding the trunk. Provide complete plant food at the same time, watering in well. Prefer zones 5 and 6 but will grow in cooler parts of zones 2, 4 and 7 Early to mid-summerRaspberry Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers well- drained soil conditions. Keep soil consistently moist from early spring to autumn. Provide plenty of organic matter and provide complete plant food in early spring. Prefer zones 5 and 6 but will grow in coldest parts of zone 4 All year roundRhubarb Need protection from wind. Can be grown in a wide range of soil types, providing they are well drained, but prefer deep fertile loams. Provide plenty of organic matter. Keep soil consistently moist, as any stress will affect stalk quality. Can be grown in all zones except zones 1 and 8 Summer and early autumn Rockmelon and honeydew melon Prefers warm sunny position. Prepare soil thoroughly. Prefer well-drained soil conditions. Keep moist. Water lightly and frequently for best results, reducing watering when fruits are full formed. Mulch to maintain soil moisture. Prefer zones 4, 7 and 8 but will grow in zones 2, 3, 5 and warmers parts of 6 Spring, summer and autumn. May fruit in winter in subtropical areas Strawberry Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers well-prepared, well-drained soil. Keep soil moist. Provide plenty of organic matter. Apply a controlled-release, liquid or soluble fertiliser in spring. Suitable for all zones Spring, summer and autumn. May fruit in winter in subtropical areas Watermelon Prefers warm sunny position. Prefer lighter soils. Prepare well. Watermelons are not large feeders. Keep soil moist to prevent stress. Good watering 2–3 times per week with a good mulching to prevent soil dryness. Warm, sunny spot. Suitable for all zones Climate zone
  • 49. 48 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Vegetable selection guide Nothing beats garden fresh vegetables and the good news is that you don’t need a lot of space to grow them. Many varieties of vegetables can be successfully grown in pots and containers. Seeds or seedlings? Vegetables can be started from either seeds or seedlings. Seeds are far cheaper and there is a wider range of varieties available in seed packets than as seedlings. You can plant a few seeds now and save the rest for later sowings and most varieties can be planted directly where they are to grow. Pay particular attention to the packet directions, especially the sowing depth and never allow the soil to dry out while the seeds are germinating. When the seedlings appear, thin them so that the spacing between them is correct. Since seedlings are already several weeks old by the time they are planted, they will mature quicker than seeds. However, they must all be planted at once which may mean that there will be a surplus of the vegetable all at once. Seedlings must be planted out within 24 hours or they will not progress as well. Choosing the best site Select an open area that is free from trees and shrubs. Vegetables prefer soil that is friable, fertile and well drained. It is preferably to have the vegetable plot in a position that receives daylong sunlight. If the land is sloping, run the beds across rather than down to avoid washaways after heavy rain. Beds running north to south allow the sun to reach all the plants. Preparing the soil Prepare the vegetable plot well and leave it to set for 1-2 weeks before planting. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter. Remove all weeds and do not allow them to flourish as vegetables do not compete well with weeds. When to plant It is important to sow seeds at the right time and select suitable varieties for the season and climate. Read the seed packet carefully for directions.
  • 50. 6–10 8–12Beans (climbing) Prefer a sunny position in well prepared, well drained soils although will grow well in heavier soils. Need trellising to support climbing plant. Sow in moist soil. Essential to shelter from strong winds. Grow in all climate zones 49 6–10 Germination time (days) 16–24 Time to mature (weeks) Asparagus Vegetable Seedling/ crowns. Prefer a sunny position in deep sandy loam. Provide plenty of organic matter. Keep soil moist and mulch well to improve moisture retention. Method of planting and gardening tips Suits zones 4,5,6 and 7 6–10 8–12Beans (French or dwarf) Seed. Prefer a sunny position in heavier soils and loams. Add plenty of organic matter to assist drainage. Essential to be sheltered from strong winds. Grow in all climate zones 7–10 10–12Beetroot Seed/seedling. Prefer deep, well drained soils. If planting in heavier soil, treat with large quantities of organic matter. Do not overcrowd as this restricts root size. Grows in all climate zones 6–10 18–20Broad Beans Seed. Tolerate many soil types but prefer well drained clay-loam soil. Need shelter from strong winds. May be staked with string between stakes to support heavily laden plant. Nipping out tops of stems after flowering restricts leaf growth and directs nutrients to developing pods. Can be grown in all climate zones but prefers Z1, 3 and 8. 6–10 16–20Broccoli Seed/seedling. Likes limed soil and plenty of organic matter. Enriched, well drained soil, towards alkaline. Best grown on a site that has not grown other crops (cabbage, cauliflower, turnips etc) for at least two to three years. Rotation of crops helps reduce likelihood of soil-borne diseases. Sprinkler watering is preferable to furrow watering as it has a more spread of moisture and lessens compacting of soil. Prefers zones 5 & 6 6–10 16–28Brussels Sprouts Seed/seedlings. Prefer friable soil. Keep soil moist. Provide a liquid or soluble plant food every three weeks after seedlings have been transplanted. Can be grown in zones 2, 4 & 7 but prefers zones 5 & 6 6–10 44–46Cabbage Seed/seedling. Will tolerate most soil types but prefer neutral to alkaline well drained loam. Provide plenty of organic matter. Important to keep moist. The large broad leaves use a lot of water – mulching will assist retain moisture. As they are heavy feeders, nitrogen- rich, organic liquid fertiliser may be needed as plant matures. Grows in all zones Climate zone
  • 51. 10–21 12–16Carrots Seed. Prefer a deeply dug, well prepared, well drained, friable soil. Heavy clays or gravels impede healthy growth. Do not overwater – let soil dry out between waterings. Do not use excessive organic matter as roots will deform. Grows in all zones 10–14 20–24Capsicum and chillies Seed/seedling. Prefer looser, friable soil. Prepare soil well and include plenty of organic matter. Water by sprinkler rather than furrows to prevent compaction. Slow to germinate, slow growing. Enjoy full sun position and long hot summers. Feed monthly with a low nitrogen fertiliser. Suitable for all zones except colder parts of Z6 6–8 8–12Cucumber Seed/seedling. Easy to grow and tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. Prepare well with organic matter. Water frequently, early in the morning (if sprinklers used), allowing leaves to dry quickly. Trellising will improve yield and keep fruit off the ground. Grows in all zones 50 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden 6–10 16–20Cauliflower Seed/seedling. Prefer alkaline soil. Provide plenty of organic matter. Heat sensitive when heads form; cover with outer leaves to protect heads from sun. Prone to pests eg. cabbage moth (moths are attracted to white colour and so you can hang up white cloths to attract them). Shallow rooted. Water frequently. Grows in all zones 12–20 20–24Celery Seed/seedling. Prefers rich, well prepared and well drained soil. Provide plenty of organic matter in heavy soils. Water frequently, especially in warm conditions and do not allow to dry out. Approximately two to four weeks before maturity the stalks can be ‘blanched’ by mounding dirt around them (or by wrapping them in paper, plastic pipe or terra cotta pipe). This gives a white, tender celery stalk at maturity. Need to be grown quickly to prevent bitterness. Grows in all zones except 1, 3, 8 & colder parts of 7 10–15 14–16Eggplant Best from seedling. Prefer rich, deep, well drained, well prepared soil. Provide plenty of organic matter. Water thoroughly but infrequently. Mulch to maintain soil moisture. Grows in all zones except colder parts of 6 8–12 12–16Leeks Seed/seedling Very adaptable to a wide variety of soil and climatic conditions. Heavy feeders so supply plenty of organic matter. Need to grow quickly for a quality product. Grow in trenches and fill in as the plant grows to ‘blanch’ (see celery). Water frequently. Grows in all zones Germination time (days) Time to mature (weeks)Vegetable Method of planting and gardening tipsClimate zone
  • 52. 6–10 10–16Marrow Seed/seedling. Prefer deep friable loam but will tolerate other soil conditions. Protect from wind but ensure a sunny position. Water well, avoiding leaves and stems. Provide plenty of organic matter. Grows in all zones except colder parts of 6 10–21 20–24Parsnip Seed. Will grow in a wide range of soil conditions but only if beds are well prepared. Best grown in light, well drained soil. Do not overcrowd. Grow in all zones 6–10 10–14Peas Seed. Prefers well drained soil conditions. Keep soil moist and free from competing weeds. Provide plenty of organic matter. Grow in all zones 20–30 15–20Potato Seed, potato eye. Grow well in heavy soils. Prepare well. Provide plenty of organic matter. Potatoes enjoy constant moisture. Bank soil to ensure that tubers are buried. A useful crop to plant in a new bed. Grows in all zones 6–10 16–20Pumpkin Seed/seedling. Prefer deep friable loam but will tolerate other soil conditions. Protect from wind but ensure a sunny position. Water fairly frequently, as water loss from large leaves is considerable. Thoroughly water 3 times per week. Keep water off crowns. Many varieties to choose from. Grows in all zones except colder parts of 6 51 6–12 8–10Lettuce Seed/seedling. Prefer friable, well drained soil conditions. Provide plenty of organic matter. Keep moist. Thorough and regular watering is required, as much water is lost through the leaves. Need protection from the sun in the hottest parts of the day. Mulch to assist the maint- enance of soil moisture. Protect from pests and birds. Grows in all zones 2 1Mushrooms Mushroom spawn/ kit. If using a kit, just add water. Keep compost moist but not sodden. Maintain constant temperature, preferably indoors. Pick at any stage. Discard compost when no more mushrooms appear. Grow in all zones 6–12 26–32Onions Seed/seedling. Prefers well drained sandy loam but will grow well in a wide variety of soil conditions. Provide plenty of organic matter. Protect from strong winds. Keep moist and well weeded, as onions will not compete favourably with weeds. Plant the correct variety for the season and climate. Grow in all zones Germination time (days) Time to mature (weeks)Vegetable Method of planting and gardening tipsClimate zone 4–6 3–4Radish Seed. Will grow in extremely wide range of soil conditions. Provide plenty of organic matter. Water frequently to keep moist as they have very shallow root systems. Grow well in pots. Grows in all zones
  • 53. 6–10 16–20Tomato Seed/seedling. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. Provide plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil well. Very deep rooted, requires thorough, infrequent water (soak). Should be staked when planted to prevent root disturbance later. As plant grows, pinch out side growth, allowing one or two strong leaders to develop. Grows in all zones N/A 16–20Shallot Bulb. Plant bulbs into well drained, reasonably fertile soil. Keep soil moist while the plant is growing but stop watering when the plant is fully mature and the leaves are beginning to yellow. Harvest when the tops of the plants die back. Grows in all zones 52 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden 7–10 8–12Silver beet Seed/seedling. Plant in light, well drained soils. Provide plenty of organic matter. Water frequently as they have significant losses through their leaves. Grows in all zones 7–10 8–12Spinach Seed/seedling. Prefer well prepared, well drained soils. Provide plenty of organic matter. As with other green leafy vegetables, keep moist. Best picked and eaten, not stored. Prefers zones 5 & 6 but can be grown in cooler parts of 2,4 & 7 6–10 12–14Squash Seed. As for pumpkin. Harvest crop regularly while small. The quality of the product will decrease with age/size. Grows in all zones 4–7 16–24Swede Seed. Wide range of soil conditions suitable. Must be kept moist. For best results encourage quick growth as this prevents the development of woody fibres. Prefers zones 5 & 6 and cooler parts of 2, 4 & 7 6–10 12–16Sweet corn Seed/seedling. Easy to grow in a wide range of soil conditions providing drainage is good. Include plenty of organic matter to feed plants and assist drainage. Water regularly, keeping moist, promoting rapid, strong growth. Harvest as soon as the crop matures. Grows in all zones except colder parts of zone 6 N/A 18–20Sweet potato Cutting/ shoot from tuber. Grow well in heavy soils. Keep soil moist. If planted into fertile soil, no extra feeding is needed. Keep free from weeds. Particularly when plants are young. Grows in all zones except 6 4–7 12–14Turnip Seed. Wide range of soil conditions suitable. Prepare soil well. Keep moist. For best results, encourage quick growth as this prevents the development of woody fibres. Prefers zones 5 & 6 and cooler parts of 2, 4 & 7 6–10 8–14Zucchini Seed/seedling. Provide plenty of organic matter. Keep free of weeds and water well, avoiding the leaves and stems. Harvest when the fruits are 10cm long. Regular picking prolongs production. Grows in all zones except colder parts of 6 Germination time (days) Time to mature (weeks)Vegetable Method of planting and gardening tipsClimate zone
  • 54. 53 Herb Selection Guide Herbs are a valuable addition to any garden and most varieties can be grown successfully in pots and containers if space is a concern. They can also be grown inside, on a window ledge that gets some sun. Apart from their culinary appeal, herbs also have many other uses such as in medicines and cosmetics and in crafts. Seeds, seedlings or offsets of an existing plant Method of planting Aloe Vera Herb Full sun. Prefers well drained, sandy soils. Water sparingly and do not allow soil to become sodden. If grown in a pot, supply a slow release fertiliser once each spring. Gardening tips Prefers zones 1–4 but can be grown in all zones Seeds, seedlings or offsets of an existing plant Basil Seed/seedling. Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers rich, moist, well drained soils. Provide plenty of organic matter. Suitable for all zones Seeds, seedlings or offsets of an existing plant Bay tree Seedling. Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers average, well drained soil conditions. Water generously from mid-autumn to mid-spring. In summer, bays tolerate drier conditions and watering should be reduced. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with plenty of organic matter. Provide a ration of complete plant food. Prefers zone 4 but will grow in zones 2, 5, 6 and 7 Seeds, seedlings or offsets of an existing plant Chives Seed/seedling. Prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade in hot climates. Prefers well drained soil conditions. Keep soil moist. Replant clumps if pots become overcrowded. Suitable for all zones Seeds, seedlings or offsets of an existing plant Coriander Seed/seedling. Prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade in hot climates. Prefers well drained soil conditions. Keep soil evenly moist and do not allow weeds to compete with the plants. Do not provide excessive amounts of organic matter as too much nitrogen lessens the flavour. Suitable for all zones Seed/seedlingDill Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Protect from strong winds. Prefers fertile, moist, well drained soil conditions. Keep moist. If soil is fertile, it is not necessary to provide much organic matter but do sprinkle lime around the plants and lightly work in. Suitable for all zones except 8 ClovesGarlic Full sun. Prefers well drained soils. Keep newly planted cloves moist but not wet during autumn and winter. If rain is infrequently, water weekly. Gradually reduce watering in spring, as garlic needs a hot, dry summer. Suitable to grow in all zones except zones 1 and 3 RhizomesGinger Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers rich, well drained soil. Needs plenty of space to grow. Keep moist whenever the plant has leaves. If the plant dies back during winter, keep dry. Provide plenty of organic matter during spring and summer. Suitable to grow in zones 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 Seed/seedlingLemon balm Full sun or partial shade. Prefers fertile, well drained soil. Keep moist. Provide plenty of organic matter and give some complete plant food during spring. Suitable for all zones except zone 1 Climate zone
  • 55. 54 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Seed/ division of existing clumps Method of planting Lemon grass Herb Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers well drained, fertile soil. Provide plenty of organic matter. Water regularly all year round, especially from mid-spring to late summer. Provide a high nitrogen plant food occasionally Gardening tips Prefers zones 1–4 but can be grown anywhere that is frost–free Seed/seedling in early spring. Marjoram and oregano Full sun. Prefers reasonably fertile, well drained soil. Water frequently in early spring and less frequently as summer approaches. In summer, water only to prevent wilting. Provide a ration of complete plant food. Suitable for all zones Seed/seedlingMint Full sun or partial shade. Prefers moderately rich, well mulched soil. Water frequently. Avoid providing excessive amounts of organic matter as this promotes rust diseases. Suitable for all zones Seed/seedlingNasturtium Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers poor, sandy or gravelly soils. Water only during dry periods and do not feed. Suitable for all zones Seed/seedlingParsley Full sun or partial shade. Prefers moderately fertile, well drained soils. Keep soil moist. Provide a ration of complete plant food once in spring. Suitable for all zones Seed/seedlingRocket Full sun or partial shade. Prefers fertile, well drained soil. Keep moist as dryness gives a bitter taste. Feed with a high nitrogen soluble fertiliser every two weeks. Suitable for all zones SeedlingRosemary Full sun. Prefers fertile, well drained soil. Water frequently during winter and less frequently during summer. No feeding is necessary. Prefers zone 4 but will grow in zones 5, 6, 7, 8 and cooler parts of zone 2 Seed/seedlingSage Full sun. Protect from strong winds. Prefers moderately fertile, well drained soils. Water young plants frequently until established and then reduce watering. Avoid providing excessive organic matter as sage becomes rank and untidy if conditions are too good. Suitable for zones 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Seed/seedlingTarragon Full sun or partial shade. Prefers well drained, sandy soil. Water deeply regularly but avoid sodden soil. Provide some organic matter and a light ration of complete plant food in early spring. Prefers zones 4, 5, 6, and 7 but will grow in zones 2 and 8 Seed/seedlingThyme Full sun. Prefers well drained, sandy soil. Best suited to dryish soils but not long periods of total dryness. Feeding is not necessary. Suitable for all zones except 1, 3, 8 and warm, humid parts of 2 RhizomeTumeric Full sun except in hot climates where partial shade is preferred. Prefers fertile, well drained soil with plenty of organic matter. When the plant has leaves, keep well watered. If it dies back during winter, keep dry. Prefers zones 1 and 2 but will grow in zones 3 and 4 Climate zone
  • 56. 55 Nut Tree Selection Guide Although some nut trees take several years to produce a crop, they can be successfully grown in the home or school garden. Nut trees can be quite ornamental and will also provide excellent shade once established. Some varieties of nuts require cross–pollination for the fruit to set. These include the almond, pecan and walnut trees. It is also important to select the right variety for your climate. Late summer and early autumn Fruiting season Almond Nut Prefers warm sunny position Prefers fertile, well drained soils, although is tolerate of most soil types. Keep soil moist, especially throughout growing season. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with plenty of organic matter. Apply a high nitrogen fertiliser in autumn. Gardening tips Prefers zones 4, 5 and 7 AutumnCashew Prefers warm sunny position. Prefer well drained, light textured, sandy soils. Provide nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers if required. Water frequently, particularly if rainfall is irregular. Prefers zones 1, 2 and 3 AutumnChestnut Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers deep, fertile, moisture-retentive well drained soil. Keep soil moist, mulch well to improve moisture retention. Prefers zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 Late summer and early autumn Hazelnut Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers fertile, well drained soils, although is tolerant of most soil types. Keep soil moist, especially throughout growing season. Mulch beneath and beyond the foliage canopy with plenty of organic matter. Apply a high nitrogen fertiliser in autumn. Prefers zones 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Late autumn and winter Macadamia Prefers a sunny, frost free position free from winds. Prefer deep, fertile, well drained soil. Keep soil moist, mulch well to improve moisture retention. Prefers zones 2 and 3 AutumnPecan Prefers warm sunny position. Prefers deep, well drained soil. Water frequently, particularly during summer. Prefers zones 3, 4, 5 and 7 AutumnPistachio Prefers warm sunny position. Prefer deep, well drained soil but will also thrive in poorer soils provided they are well drained. Water frequently but avoid damp or waterlogged conditions. Prefers zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 AutumnWalnut Need a sunny, wind-protected position. Prefers deep, fertile, moisture-retentive well drained soil. Keep soil moist, mulch well to improve moisture retention. Prefers zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 Climate zone
  • 57. 56 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Appendix G Vegetable planting calendar Asparagus Beans (climbing) Z2 Z2 Z2 Beetroot Broad beans Z2 Broccoli Z2 Z2 Brussels sprouts Cabbage Z2 Z2 Capsicum Z1 Z1 Z1 Carrots Cauliflower Celery Z2 Z2 Chillies Z1 Z1 Z1 Chinese cabbage Cucumber Z1 Z1 Z1 Eggplant Z1 Z1 Z1 Z1 Z1 Herbs Lettuce Melons Z1 Onions Peas Potato (tuber) Pumpkin Radish Rhubarb Z2 Z2 Z2 Z2 Z2 Shallots Silver beet Spinach Spring onions Squash Sweet corn Z1 Z1 Z1 Z1 Tomatoes Zucchini Key: plant in either zone plant in zone 1 Plant Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Z1 plant in zone 2Z2 1 Planting Calendar for tropical zones (zones 1 and 2)
  • 58. 57 Asparagus Beans (climbing) Beetroot Broad beans Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cabbage Capsicum Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chillies Chinese cabbage Cucumber Eggplant Herbs Lettuce Melons Onions Peas Potato (tuber) Pumpkin Radish Rhubarb Shallots Silver beet Spinach Spring onions Squash Sweet corn Tomatoes Zucchini Key: plant in temperate zone Plant Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2 Planting Calendar for temperate zones (zones 3, 4, 7 and 8)
  • 59. 58 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden Asparagus Beans (climbing) Beetroot Broad beans Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cabbage Capsicum Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chillies Chinese cabbage Cucumber Eggplant Herbs Lettuce Melons Onions Peas Potato (tuber) Pumpkin Radish Rhubarb Shallots Silver beet Spinach Spring onions Squash Sweet corn Tomatoes Zucchini Key: plant in cool zone Plant Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 3 Planting Calendar for cool zones (zones 5 and 6)
  • 60. 59 Appendix H Common garden pests and diseases Common garden pests Slugs and snails Slugs and snails are soft-bodied pests with the snail having a hard shell for protection. When they move along, they leave a shiny mucus trail. Slugs and snails are mostly night eaters and are most active during spring and autumn. They may be slow moving but they can quickly ruin a newly planted garden by completely eating your seedlings. Snails and slugs love leafy vegetables. Control • Remove them by hand – look in their favourite spots. • Clean up any hiding places such as under bricks. • Hire a friendly duck after the plants are a few weeks old. • Make a snail trap – a shallow dish of water with a teaspoon of dry yeast mixed in. The snails crawl in and drown. White butterfly The white butterfly can be seen flitting around most gardens. It is creamy in colour with one or two black dots on its forewing. The butterflies you see are probably busy laying eggs which hatch into caterpillars. These caterpillars are the pest that do the damage. They grow up to 30mm long, are a dull green colour and have yellow lines on their body. These caterpillars love the leaves of green leafy vegetables and will leave only the stem behind if they are allowed to stay. Control • Look for the yellowish eggs on the underside of leaves and remove the infested leaves. • A torchlight hunt for caterpillars can be effective. Any caterpillar’s food should be removed. Aphids Aphids are tiny creatures 1–2mm long. They are soft bodied and their colour can be from green to black. Aphids are present in most gardens but are only a problem when they are in large numbers. If they are on your plants in large numbers, they will cause the leaves to twist and curl. Control • Aphids can be hosed off plants but take care with small seedlings. • Soapy water mixed with white oil is a non-toxic control. Spray over affected areas. • On smaller plants, remove and destroy by hand. • Encourage natural predators such as ladybirds and praying mantis. Cabbage moth The cabbage moth doesn’t damage plants directly. It is largely a night flier and is dull brown in colour with a wingspan of about 10mm. It is a small caterpillar, which can quickly destroy a green leafy crop. The caterpillars only grow to about 10mm and are a pale green colour. The eggs of the cabbage moth
  • 61. 60 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden are yellow and can be found on the underside of leaves. When the caterpillars eat the leaves they don’t eat right through, making thin patches which you can see through. Control • Remove any leaves on which you find eggs and look carefully and closely for caterpillars. Cutworm Cutworms are fat caterpillars which grow up to 50mm long. They have many colours from creamy brown to very dark grey. They can be easily recognised by the way they quickly curl up into a flat curl when they are disturbed. Cutworms love young soft plants and they get their names from chewing through stems at the ground level. Cutworms like to eat green leafy vegetables as well as tomatoes, corn and beans. Control • Cutworms hide under mulch during the day so can be hard to find. Torch hunts at night and removing by hand is the best defence. • Weed control keeps populations low. Earwig Earwigs are small brown insects about 20mm long with small pincer-like hooks at the tail end of the body. Earwigs hide in cool, damp, dark places during the day and feed largely at night. Earwigs love to eat soft new shoots and flower buds. On larger leaves, they tend to eat around the edges. Control • The best way to control earwigs is with traps. There is a range of traps that can be made: • Lay short (30cm) hollow sticks on the garden. Earwigs like to crawl into small dark places. Collect up the sticks every day. Remove carefully from the garden, take out earwigs and destroy. • Screwed up newspaper in a pot laid on its side produces similar results for the same reasons. • Place saucers or flat dishes of linseed oil around the garden at night. Earwigs are attracted to the linseed oil and will crawl in and drown. Do not put traps out in the rain as the water will fill the dish and waste the linseed oil. Looper Loopers are the caterpillars of a range of moths. They are named loopers because of the way they move. Loopers grow up to 40mm and feed on the underside of leaves. They create a window effect by not eating right through the leaf. Eggs are laid singly on the underside of leaves. Dark brown droppings can be found on the leaves. Loopers like tomatoes and leafy vegetables. Control • Sharp eyes are the best defence. If you find symptoms of their presence search the underside of leaves for caterpillars and eggs. Remove leaves with eggs. Remove and destroy caterpillars. Fruit flies Fruit flies attach many fruits and vegetables. Their eggs are laid into the fruit as it ripens and hatch soon into maggots. Fruit fly attacks start in the spring, becoming worse as numbers build up during the summer. Control • Do not leave fruit on the ground. Collect fruit as it falls and seal it in a plastic bag left in the sun. • Control is difficult to achieve without spraying.
  • 62. 61 Leaf miners The larvae of various moths, flies, wasps and beetles tunnel inside the leaves of plants, leaving narrow twisting trails. Citrus plants are often affected. Control • If damage is minor, remove affected leaves and place them in the rubbish. • A weak solution of white oil may be effective against the citrus leaf miner. Mealy bugs These small, oval insects are covered in mealy wax threads. They congregate on the underside of leaves, in leaf joints and crevices and on roots. They may cause severe wilting on soft young shoots. Control • Encourage natural predators such as ladybirds, wasps and birds. • Chemical control may be necessary. Common Plant Diseases Plant diseases are caused by fungi, bacteria or viruses and may be spread by insects, by spores floating through the air, in the soil or in debris. Gardening tools can also carry diseases from one plant to another. For this reason it is important to practice good hygiene in the gardening. Use top quality potting mix, scrub all used pots and seedling trays, clean compost containers and remove plant debris. A healthy, well-fed plant, in a sunny, open position with good drainage and air circulation will always have a greater resistance to disease than those stressed by poor growing conditions or lack of water. Collar rot of citrus plants Collar rot usually occurs on the trunk close to the ground level, causing bark to flake and wood to rot. Lemon trees are most susceptible, but all citrus can be affected. Control • Cut away damaged bark to expose healthy bark and clean wood. • Keep base of tree well clear of organic matter which will encourage rotting. Powdery mildew The powdery mildew are a group of fungi that coat leaves, young shoots, flowers and fruits with a conspicuous white or pale grey, ash-like film. It is more prevalent in warm, humid weather and spreads rapidly from plant to plant by wind. Control • Grow mildew-resistant varieties where possible. • Remove and destroy affected foliage. • Avoid overcrowding and overhead watering. Sooty mould This dark fungal growth forms on the sticky secretions (called honeydew) produced by sap-sucking insects. It causes unsightly black mould to appear on the leaves and stems. Control • Remove the primary infection, such as the aphids, and the mould will disappear. • Hose the plant with a strong spray to assist in the clean up.
  • 63. 62 DIG IN: Creating an edible school garden References This resource includes information from: Swane, V. Gregory’s Australian Gardening. 2nd Edition. Gregory’s Publishing Company, 1993. Burnie, G. Gardening – a commonsense guide. 3rd Edition. Murdock Books, 2001. Knight, T. Earthworks: an adventure in gardening for teachers and children. Health Development Foundation, 1993 We would like to acknowledge and thank these authors.