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GETTING STARTED - Vegetable Plot Gardening
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When starting a vegetable garden there are a number of things to think about from preparation, sowing, maintaining and harvesting. For more detailed guidance on these areas, visit our Simple Guide To Growing section. Meanwhile, here are some of the key considerations.
recommended
We have a shopping list of the top 15 products we would recommend to begin a school gardening club and if funds are limited purchases can be made throughout the season as and when the products are required.
  A. Seed   B. Seed Trays
  C. Labels   D. Propagator
  E. Trug   F. Raised Bed
  G. Cold Frame   H. Tubing
  I. Fleece   J. Harrod Slot & Lock® Connectors
  K. Mesh   L. Anti-Bird Netting
  M. Biological Pest Control   N. Wildlife Habitat
  O. Kitchen Caddy   P. Organic Liquid Plant Food
  Q. Watering Can   R. Water Butt
  S. Gloves   T. Childrens Tools  
   
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What Can You Grow?

An area 4m x 4m square will hold a tremendous amount of vegetables. You can grow a selection of salad leaves, carrots, potatoes, peas, baby sweetcorn, cabbage, cauliflower, runner beans and even strawberries. As one crop finishes so other crops grown in small pots or seed trays can be slipped in to the available space. Don't forget to add some herbs and companion plants like marigolds to encourage the butterflies and ladybirds.

Always label what you have sown to avoid any confusion whilst it is important to consider the growing period of varieties in case they need care over the holidays.

Raised Bed Growing

No time or space to dig over a patch of ground for a vegetable garden? The answer is simple - use raised beds. There are many advantages of raised beds: easy to plan planting and crop rotation; they keep the soil warm; soil quality is less important because you can fill with a suitable soil mix; easy to tend without trampling the soil; they improve drainage, etc.

Composting

A compost bin is essential for improving soil. Put all leafy waste and twigs into the bin. This will decompose and provide good compost for later in the season. Using a kitchen caddy to collect up food scraps from children's lunch boxes (and from the kitchens!) will provide a ready supply of material for the compost heap. Make sure that meat products are not included in the mix as this will encourage rats and mice.

Starting Off Indoors

Starting off indoors with vegetable seeds in trays and then planting them out when they are bigger will help plants to stand up to pest and disease attack. A propagator can be used on windowsills to raise some plants, but remember to harden them off before planting outside.

Crop Protection

Tubing and Harrod Slot & Lock® Connectors can be used to erect a framework to support netting that in turn provides essential protection against birds, animals, caterpillars and smaller pests such as carrot fly. In particular, fleece is essential to cover vulnerable plants from the cold and pests.

Cloches are really useful for protecting individual plants and in particular young tender varieties.

Water Supplies

Make sure there is a water butt close by to collect up rainwater so that this can be used for watering during the summer. Add liquid plant food to the watering cans when watering - this will help keep plants in tip top condition and encourage them to produce better crops.

Essential Maintenance

Childrens Tools and hoes will be needed for planting and weeding. There should be enough tools available for several children to do the tasks at any one time, while others are occupied taking leafy material to the compost bin, harvesting or watering. Use a trug to move waste materials from the vegetable patch to the compost heap whilst they make great containers for harvesting.

Pest Control and Attracting Insects

As the growing season progresses children should be encouraged to look out for evidence of slugs, snails or insects attacking their crops. Have some biological pest controls at hand ready to water in. Wildlife can help control pests and diseases too. A ladybird house in the vicinity of the vegetable garden will encourage these beneficial insects who will do much to aid the growing of plants.

 
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Plan your school Garden
National Curriculum linked classroom lesson plans
Fact Sheets - Getting Started

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