Garden projects

This activity has detailed instructions for building a raised bed; the examples can be adapted for your preferred size, height, and shape.

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Raised beds

Herb spirals offer a beautiful and practical way of growing herbs. The upward spiral lets you fit in more plants than a flatter space. The spiral also has areas of sun and free draining soil at the top, with damper, shadier areas lower down to suit herbs with different requirements.

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Herb spiral

A wormery is a container where worms and micro-organisms create worm compost (‘vermicompost’) and fertile liquid run-off. Worms mostly consume vegetable peelings, but also shredded paper and other soft waste.

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Wormeries

Wild flowers help create a healthy organic garden for growing food. They provide food and shelter for beneficial insects that eat pests and pollinate plants. Wild flowers are endlessly fascinating and easy to grow in the smallest or largest of spaces. This activity tells you how to get started and basic maintenance of your wild flowers.

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Wildflowers

This activity helps you review a shortlist of possible sites for a growing area.

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Where to grow plants

There are several methods of removing weeds and grass described below that can be adapted to your needs. Remember you donÂ’t necessarily have to clear the whole site immediately, but just the space you need for the first yearÂ’s growing.

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Removing grass

Weeds are fascinating plants. Some are attractive, help wildlife or are even edible! They can also smother and compete with other plants, reducing harvests and spreading pests. Learning about weeds helps you identify the main types and decide how to remove those weeds that cause more harm than good.

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Weeds

Water butts are simple and affordable containers that attach to a downpipe to collect rainwater. This becomes a convenient reservoir during dryer spells to water plants to keep them cropping well. It also saves money and the environmental impact of using mains water. Installing a water butt is simple on most sites.

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Water butt

You should have vigorous young plants after thinning and potting on seedlings. Transplanting is the final step to enable plants to grow on to maturity. The aim is to give them enough space to produce a good crop.

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Transplanting

Having a few extra seedlings is a useful backup in case of losses, but plants become straggly and crops poor if plants are overcrowded. Thinning removes the weaker plants so seedlings can grow into strong individuals ready for potting on or transplanting.

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Thinning seedlings

This activity tells you how to start building soil fertility. It has several simple tests as the first step in understanding soil as a living mass of organisms and chemistry that provide plants with water, fertility and anchorage. From these results, continue to develop an improvement plan for your particular soil.

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Testing soil

With a little luck and by following these simple techniques, youÂ’ll be able to store several types of vegetables and fruit to eat out of season. The following has tips and techniques for choosing the right produce for successful storage.

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Storing produce

Square-foot gardening grows a lot of crops in a small space, ideal for groups of pupils, especially those starting off as itÂ’s a small, manageable space.

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A square foot garden

Growing plants from seed is tremendously rewarding. The techniques are simple and quick, especially with practice and the confidence to experiment.

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Sowing seeds

Saving seeds is an exciting and money saving way to complete the growing season. It lets you preserve a favourite fruit or vegetable variety to grow again next year or swap with other schools or gardening groups.

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Saving seed

The correct identification of plant problems is essential. Without knowing whatÂ’s wrong, you canÂ’t assess if treatment is needed and worth the effort or cost. ItÂ’s also more likely to lead to treating the symptoms, not the underlying cause.

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Identifying plant problems

Many seedlings benefit from an ‘inbetween’ stage where they are given more space to grow before being transplanted into their final location in the soil or large container.

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Potting in seedlings

This is an easy and rewarding activity for all ages. Potatoes in containers will produce a convenient crop with only minimal care. There are a few things you’ll need, but getting started is easy.

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Growing potatoes

Planting a tree is such a pleasure. Knowing your tree will live for many years is very special, especially when planted by the school community for the enjoyment of everyone.

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Planting a tree

Planting containers is a terrific activity that makes an immediate impact on the growing space. The simple process ‘transplants’ young plants grown in small pots into larger containers. Many fruit, vegetables and herbs will do well in containers, so experiment to see what does best for you.

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Planting in containers

This is a great way to save money and recycle old newspapers. Instead of buying plastic pots or trays to sow your seeds into, follow the instructions below to make your own paper pots. Seedlings will grow strongly and be perfect for planting outdoors or into larger containers. The whole pot can be planted as it will decompose and the roots grow through.

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Making a paper pot

Mulching is spreading materials over the soil surface, such as compost. The benefits are readily seen, particularly during summer holidays when it conserves soil moisture and suppresses weeds.

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Mulching

Leafmould is a lovely crumbly dark organic material used for improving soil structure and as an invaluable ingredient for potting mixes. The leaves fall every year from deciduous trees and are easy and quick to collect as a group. Making leafmould is more about patience than technique, so producing leafmould is easy.


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Leafmould

Plants in pots and containers need special potting mixes to grow well. Soil on its own isn’t enough as the small volume available is unable to provide the benefits it does to outdoor plants, such as disease suppression, balanced nutrient levels, etc. A potting mix takes over these roles by blending different materials.


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Potting mixes

Pruning is an exciting job that varies with each fruit crop.


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Training fruit

Liquid feeds provide extra nutrients for plants in need, usually those growing in confined spaces or especially hungry.

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Liquid feed

This simple technique is a valuable way of splitting up and rejuvenating established perennial plants into smaller pieces, each section becoming a new plant. It works for most plants that have a spreading rootball with plenty of shoots at soil level.

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Dividing plants

Digging is very satisfying. You simply work up and down your growing area, turning over the soil and adding organic matter as needed (eg compost).

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Digging

Taking cuttings is very rewarding. These simple ‘propagation’ techniques let you increase numbers of ornamental and edible plants. Cuttings especially suit plants that don’t do well or take a long time from seed, such as fruit bushes.

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Cuttings