Rachel Borrows, School Horticulturist, works with the children to promote sustainable garden practice and provide an appreciation of our school’s biodiversity.

25th March 2022

Gardening Clubs 
It has been a busy week of planting throughout the school, as we try to get as many seeds as possible off to a good start before the Easter break. Our nursery and kindergarten children have been planting potatoes and peas in the pre-prep garden, working together to fill containers with compost for the potatoes, and digging a trench to plant the pea seeds in. The Year 3s have been tending to their potatoes and have already spotted some shoots starting to show through the soil! They have also been working to weed the wildlife garden ready for the sowing of wildflower seeds. The Year 1 and 2 gardening club have sown carrots and radishes directly into the raised beds in the pre-prep garden, and have also sown sunflower seeds in pots to grow on in our mini-greenhouse before planting them out in the garden later in the season. Our Year 5 and 6 clubs have been pricking out the tomato seedlings that the Year 1s and 2s sowed a few weeks ago. They very carefully teased apart the young plants and replanted them in individual pots so that they have the space to grow into strong healthy young plants.
Year 7 
It was the turn of the Year 7 classes to get planting in the vegetable garden this week. Year 7 is responsible for growing all the root vegetables and alliums within our crop rotation system this year, and after some discussion about what is classed s a root vegetable, they worked well together to sow carrot and beetroot seeds as well as weeding and raking many of the other beds in the garden, making them ready for the other year groups to sow their seeds after the Easter break.

18th March 2022

With the theme of this week’s Science Week being ‘growth’, Vinehall’s gardening clubs have been investigating plant growth in its many different stages.
Our Little Vines Explorers group braved the downpour Monday morning to plant potatoes in containers in our pre-prep garden. We could see the shoots that the seed potatoes had already sprouted and talked about the importance of not damaging them whilst planting. Many thanks to our groundsman Keith for repurposing some old plastic bins for us to use as planting containers – recycling and sustainability in action!

The Year 1 and 2 gardening club planted some buddleja bushes, otherwise known as ‘butterfly bushes’, in our new wildlife garden that is under construction. They also independently decided to build a ‘stone hotel’ as a habitat and refuge for some of the creatures that we hope to attract to the garden!

The Year 5s and 6s added some new herbs to our sensory garden in the De Beer courtyard which also involved repositioning some of our lavender plants to make room for them. They then tested their knowledge by using their sense of smell and taste to try and identify the herbs.

11th March 2022

The first crop has gone into the ground this week, with the Year 3s planting out the seed potatoes that they chitted five weeks ago. They worked together to dig trenches to plant their potatoes in, learning to be careful not to damage the new shoots that have already grown. Potatoes are a fairly low maintenance crop to grow and we shouldn’t need to revisit them again until their shoots have grown well above ground when they will need earthing up.

We have been making the most of the lovely early spring sunshine this week. The Year 3 and 4 gardening club began digging in the green manure that we sowed in the veg garden last autumn. This will improve the structure and fertility of the soil before planting. We have left some of it intact for now though as some of the early bees were still enjoying the flowers!

The Year 1 and 2 gardening club went on a spring flower spotting walk around the grounds and managed to locate and identify nine out of the sixteen different flowers on our spotter guide, as well as finding and adding a few extras of their own. Many thanks to Mrs Ruddle for being our replacement Mrs Lomas this week. The Year 5 and 6 groups were put to work collecting leaf mould and moving it over to the vegetable garden to use as a mulch for the beds. They learnt to appreciate the benefits of the physical exercise that gardening requires!

4th March 2022

The beginning of March heralds the new seed sowing season for this year, and the Year 1 and 2 gardening club started us off by sowing nasturtiums and tomatoes. Whilst it is still a bit chilly outside for sowing seeds direct, these seeds will happily germinate on a sunny windowsill, ready for planting out later in the spring.

The Year 3 and 4 gardening club have been practising their garden design skills by drawing up the plans for the vegetable garden this year, illustrating all the different crops that the various year groups will be producing within our crop rotation system. The Year 3’s potatoes are sprouting nicely on their classroom windowsill. They will be the first crop to be planted out into the veg garden in a few weeks’ time.

The pre-prep were very excited to spot the first of the bulbs that they planted as part of Plant A Bulb Day last autumn, flowering in the garden this week. The cheerful purple crocuses open up in celebration of the spring sunshine (providing they have escaped the enthusiastic attentions of small hands and feet!).