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Know your Veg
Recommended equipment
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Compost bin to house your compost heap.  View a Slot and Slide Compost Bin video here

Kitchen caddy to collect fruit and veg scraps and other slow to rot waste that can then be added to the compost heap.  

Fish, Blood and Bone to turn kitchen and garden waste into valuable compost at low cost.

Compost Stirrer to speed up the rotting process.

Budding Gardener Childrens Tools for the pupils

Childrens Gardening Gloves for the pupils

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Why Compost At All?

A good compost heap is essential to any gardener seeking to garden without using chemicals. All the ingredients are easily found in the garden, the kitchen, even the classroom!

  • Begin a compost heap by building it up in 15cm (6 inch) layers. Start with a layer of twiggy material as this will allow air to circulate throughout the heap. Then add leafy material and kitchen waste. Small quantities of shredded paper or cardboard such as egg boxes, even hair can be added. On top of this put a layer of grass clippings.

  • Between each layer scatter manure or compost activator to help speed the rotting process. Then start again with twigs, leafy material and grass clippings. Stir from time to time to bring cooler material from the sides into the hotter centre of the heap.

  • If the material is wet and soggy, it needs some dry material added. If it is too dry, and material is not breaking down then more compost activator and damp, leafy growth should be used.

  • Only kitchen waste should be used in wormeries. The worms eat the waste and turn it into compost. One tin is filled at a time, and when the worms move up and into the next tin; the first tin can be used.

  • The compost is ready for use when it is a nice dark brown colour, with a fine crumbly texture. The mixture can be dug into the soil to improve it, or put around plants as a mulch.

Why Rotate Crops?

Rotating crops helps soil fertility and reduces the risk of a build up of diseases within the soil. There are three main groups of vegetables - legumes or podded vegetables; brassicas; roots and tubers. Each group of vegetables require a slightly different collection of nutrients from the soil or release it back in the case of legumes. Legumes form nodules on their roots which contain nitrogen. When the crop is finished, the stems should be cut down, leaving the roots to release the nitrogen back into the soil.

Draw a plan of the plot and divide it in three sections. Colour each section a different colour to make them stand out.
  • In section one grow legumes - peas, beans, plus crops like celery, onions, leeks, lettuce, spinach, sweetcorn, tomatoes and courgettes. The middle section should be used for brassicas such as brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, turnips and radishes. The third section is for root crops like potatoes, parsnips, carrots and beetroot.

  • The following year, move all crop groups forward a section.  Plants that grew in Section 1 should now be in Section 3, Section 2 plants in Section 1, and Section 3 plants in Section 2.

  • In the third year, rotate the crops again. By Year 4, all the crops should be back in the section that they started growing in.
Encourage birds, bees and beneficial insects into the plot. Put up nest boxes and set up a ladybird tower. Hoverflies and ladybirds will eat up aphids such as greenfly and blackfly which attack crops.
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