Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Companion Planting

The seedlings are looking so healthy, they are a credit to the kids.

It is time to plant our first batch and we have decided to companion plant again this year. The children learnt about it last year and are keen to try again. We have corn and sunflowers interspersed peas and beans. the beans and peas will climb up the stalks of the corn and sunflowers. If the climbers grow faster than the stalks then we will have to get some stakes in but we are hoping that it will all work out.

Another bonus of doing it this way is that each plant will flower at different times, giving our lovely bees plenty to do and eat throughout the summer months. We have also planted beetroot and tomatoes - we are really looking forward to summer!!!

Brand New Bottle Garden

We are always on the look out for new and interesting ways to recycle and utilize our tiny bit of land.

In the past we have made sculptures of a whale and jellyfish and last year we made a hot-house from bamboo and softdrink bottles which is still going strong. Mrs Young was inspired this time by a video on YouTube and here is the result-

Mrs Young took a couple of pupils to the local dump, sorry, Transfer Station, and collected some softdrink bottles. After washing them out the pupils cut the bottoms out of the bottles and then put potting mix & compost in them.

Mrs Young and Ohara (inside the chook house) then stacked and tied them to the chook house wall. There are 5 columns and it is 8 rows high. Each bottle fits into the one under it and because there are no lids the water flows from the top water feeder right down to the bottom.

Once the bottles are secured and the top layer is completed Mrs Young started cutting flaps in them and carefully placed seedlings in the new planter.

We have planted parsley and spring onions in it so far and we are going to plant other hers and lettuces -
A Salad on a Wall!! If all goes well this will be covered with lush, edible greenery in a few short weeks.

Gargantuan Greenhouse Growth

The new greenhouse has been absolutely worth its weight in gold. 
We have had so much rain over the past few weeks it's a miracle that we haven't developed webbed feet!

On August the 6th we posted that we had planted our first lot of seeds and put them in the greenhouse. The children helped Denny with a DIY irrigation system which keeps the humidity just right for optimum growth and BOY has it worked a treat. 

The children visit the greenhouse everyday and water when necessary. In two short week we have seedlings that would make any plant-shop proud, WE sure are! The beans are so big and strong with a fantastic root system.

We asked the children what they think might have contributed to this wondrous growth 
*Heat - warmer inside the greenhouse than outside
*Moisture - the mist the irrigation system gives off is keeping the plants moist. We also notice condensation on the walls of the greenhouse which shows that there is a nice amount of heat in there.
*Potting Mix - The quality of the potting mix is very important and it seems that the TUI potting mix is full of the right nutrients for our seedlings.
*Care - We look after the seedlings everyday and make sure they are warm and wet, they are very spoilt.

The kids have been acclimatising the seedlings this week. In the morning they get placed outside to get used to the temperature difference and then put back in for the night. They will be ready to plant  mid week.

We LOVE our Bees!

National Bee Week - August 20-24.
Our bees have survived a wet winter and they are enjoying the longer, sunnier days (in between downpours!)

 We have had to feed them a sugary solution throughout winter to keep them healthy and happy and we are all looking forward to the first spring flowers. We are quite an organic school and we do not use sprays so the flowers should be ok for our bees. We already have several of our fruit trees coming into blossom and they are loving the lavender!
We always have to be keeping an eye on the hive for the dreaded varroa mite, Denny the Caretaker and local bee man Johnny Boots have been checking and showing the children what to watch out for. if the hive became infected, we would have to destroy the hive :-(.

The National Beekeepers’ Association is helping battle the varroa mite but they want New Zealanders to help combat the threat to bees from pesticides and a lack of food.

"Without bees, two thirds of our everyday food would disappear, our gardens would be without many of their plants and flowers, and our major agri-export industries - worth around $5 billion - would be in severe trouble," a statement from NBA says.
* If you see a swarm of bees contact a beekeeper (visit www.nba.org.nz)
* Avoid using sprays and coated seeds containing neonicotinoids
* If you must spray, avoid products which contain acetamprid, imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam
* Avoid spraying chemicals in your garden while plants are flowering.
Source: The National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand.

“New Zealanders also need to plant bee friendly trees and plants like fruit trees and old-fashioned or heirloom flowers and herbs. We also need to protect swarms, not kill them. If you see a swarm of bees in a tree or on your house contact a local beekeeper to come and get them.”

For more information about how to help bees go to www.nba.org.nz