Hope you've all been staying safe, staying well and enjoying the incredible sunshine!
Appologies I hadn't posted sooner, I had a whole load of posts ready and waiting for you but was having technical difficulties at home, All sorted now touch wood and it's been holidays anyway, so hopefully you'll enjoy having some things on here to read and inspire once term begins again next week. It's good to have a break. I'll try from now on to be regular with posts so you can check on a monday, or any day after that and there'll be something new every week.
I did think these potatoes looked quite like eggs when I was planting them. This was a couple of weeks ago, in time for the full moon.
Q: Can you remember why it's a good idea to plant them in time for the full moon!?
A: It's becuase the full moon is when the water table is drawn closer to the earth's surface by the pull of the moon. (That's one of the reasons why we get 'spring tides' which are higher tides than usual.) So it's a great time for planting. Feel free to google, write, make a poster & share more info of any kind on this topic!
These were the first batch of potatoes, an earlier variety called Nicola!
Starlings: do you remember that amazing cart of manure you all collected!? Well I've finally been able to use it for the potatoes! It will give them great food. The soil here is so poor and sandy, we need much more manure!!!
If you're still not back at school by the time these have grown then we'll put them all in the village larder for you to come and try. I'll keep posting their growing journey for you.
It may be too tricky in your garden, but if so, you can easily plant potatoes in a big pot or sack-type pot which is easy and fun to do. They're also a great 'pioneer' crop, which means they're excellent starter crop for turning over an old bit of lawn or waste-land into a good flower or veg bed, they help break up the soil as they grow and the initial digging and manure helps too, it means all the hard digging work is done by you and the potatoes and you then have a good fertile bed with the added manure for the following year!
Harvesting potatoes is like digging up treasure! It's amazing to be able to grow your own food, an essential life skill. What would we all do without potatoes!? They're not the most glamerous of veg, but wow are they a staple our lives depend on!?
What are you favourite ways to eat potatoes!?
Which potato dishes can YOU cook at home.
(Parents, it's great teaching even young kids to use a potato peeler and a blunt knife to help you chop and prepare meals, we'd do that kind of thing at forest school, so as long as you're watching and teach them to be careful, you'll probably find they might love it. I'm sure lots of you do this already, but incase it's helpful to know, making every day tasks into a learning lesson is a great opportunity to teach them essential life skills :-)
What else can you do with potatoes!? I'd like to try some potato printing :-)
Have any of you planted any potatoes yet?
If not there's still time, here's what to do, which, if you look closely, you'll be able to figure out from the photos.
1) Dig a trench, at least a spade's head deep
2) Line with compost &/or well rotted manure
3) Fork in a little to mix it with the soil a bit
4) Gently push down your potatoes / earth eggs one at a time into the soil, at least a foot apart. Be careful not to damage any sprouts coming out of the potatoes, they're the magic shoot which will grow!
5) Gently cover over the potatoes with the soil piled up next to the trench.
6) You'll have extra soil because of the manure/compost added, so use a rake to carefully and gently mound up the soil in a line above your row of potatoes. This is like tucking them into bed with a warm cosy duvet! I love it! The extra earth on top helps protect new shoots from cold nights. Frost would kill them, so if there is some surprise frost coming and new shoots are showing, you can cover them with soil in advance and mound up more soil if needed. Hopefully though, now that it's mid april we might not have to worry to much about this, but you never know! :-)
6) Water! Can you see in the last photos the 3 mounds of potato rows and the sprinkler set-up ... do water regularly in dry spells as they'll need good water to form juicy, tasty, numerous, healthy tubours.
Please share any work you do from this, you can make a project out of anything you do in the garden, take photos, draw pictures, or write a poem, a song, a story, a dance, a scientific experiment; simply write up what you've done and give evidence eg a photo or drawing. You can also describe how doing this makes you feel. eg For me, planting potatoes is quite hard work with all the digging, I tend to get a sore back and it takes some determination, but I feel SOOOO so much better for doing it, I love being in the fresh air, getting some exercise and knowing that I'm growing some food, which, especially in this crazy time is amazing to build resiliance and feel we're doing something positive as a school which will help us all. It means I'm living healthily and eating healthily, while building resiliance and confidence for a better future. You can do this too! And you're all with me already on this school garden journey despite being at home, so I look forward to sharing the journey of the potatoes growing!
(Parents: Forest school is about developing your childs spirit and individuality, so feel free to suggest these ideas to them and let them choose for themselves what they'd like to do, hopefully the results will surprise and amaze you, I'd love to hear. Try as much as you can to get them to do it for themselves. But of course, if it's something you end up doing together it will be precious memories and time together which you'll hopefully treasure for years to come. Don't worry if it's sometimes frustrating and difficult, that's normal and happens to us all :-) If they're asking you questions, then how much can you question back to them and model the learning with them for finding the answer? This can take a little practice, it's like forming a new habbit, but is much better just handing them answers on a plate. It helps to build and develop their enquiring, inventive minds. :-)
Most importantly, have fun!!! :-)