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A comprehensive guide to growing Vegetables.
Tess Michaels & David Reed
"We have not inherited the earth from our parents; we have borrowed it from our children."...Lester R. Brown, Founder of the Worldwatch Institute and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute. "He plants to benefit another generation."... Caecilius Statius, Roman slave/playright from his play Synephebi. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ...Margaret Mead, anthropologist "Six companies hope to have control of our food, forests, fuels, animals and fish,.... It's now time to declare war on these companies ....otherwise they will own the carbon that makes up our savannah grasslands, the ocean algae, all our cultivated plants, animals and plantations of trees. It is effectively 6 billion of us about to lose control to 6 or more multi-national corporations unless we speak up. No other animal has divorced itself from its food supplies and its environment and survived, and neither will we. From a talk by Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group. We would like to thank the following people for their timely advice, professional perspectives, “field testing” and general all around encouragement. In alphabetical order; Brenda Cavanagh from in Commonsense in Early Childhood Education, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada Kierna Corr from Learning for Life, Dungannon, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom Lindsay Logsdon from Trinity Acres Farm Harrow, Ontario, Canada, Catherine Morgan from The Point Preschool, Oyster Bay, Sydney, Australia, Dr Steve Scally, Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, for his encouragement and metaphysical insights.
About Tessa Rose Playspace and Landscape Design Tessa Rose Landscapes is a naturalistic playspace design company focused on creating natural, sustainable and inspiring play environments. Tess also has a comprehensive Australian blog site focused on design, children's play and development with heaps of links to resources, literature, audio and visual downloads and presentations. Tess Michaels Tess Michaels is a natural playspace and landscape designer, early childhood teacher and workshop presenter with a passion for natural play and sustainable outdoor environments for children of all ages. Tess has a background in early childhood education initially as a teacher then as a director and is a member of Early Childhood Australia. She has worked in an assortment of centres, both private and commercial, community and religious based; she has also worked in varying capacities in Local, State and Federal government Childcare organisations. Tess has a Diploma in Horticulture & Landscape design and is a member of The Australian Institute of Horticulture. Her experience in all these positions led her to believe that it is essential for children in early childhood to have access to natural, stimulating and aesthetic outdoor environments. David Reed David has a background in Early childhood and Before and after care, working with ages 0-15 whilst studying to obtain an Associate Diploma in Child studies and a Certificate lll in Horticulture & Landscape construction. David operates his own garden maintenance business specialising in the construction and maintenance of naturalistic playspaces. Disclaimer: Any products referenced in this guide are mentioned because they have been used in the construction of playspaces designed by Tessa Rose or in the maintenance of the same. The products were chosen on the basis that they’re functional, durable, low maintenance and child friendly. No consideration financial or otherwise was provided to mention them. Any chemical product mentioned should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions and a MSDS should be obtained and read prior to their application. Links to international Safety and MSDS providers can be found here, for Australia here. If you have any doubt whatsoever about the use of any product within a children’s service DO NOT USE IT and seek professional advice for alternatives. Any photos used in this publication are either Property of Tessa Rose, derived from a Creative Commons photographic database (where commercial use is allowed providing attribution is provided) or if derived from a blog or website they are used in the form of a pictorial hyperlink to the original site (all property, intellectual and copyrights are retained by those sites).
Copyright © David Reed and Tess Michaels, 2012. This work is copyright. All rights reserved. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of the authors. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, by any person without the written permission of the authors. The views expressed in this book are those of the authors. Sydney, Australia, 2012. Given that this is the first printing of this type of document I’m certain I have forgotten something......probably a number of something’s. I welcome your constructive criticism and advice as well as your knowledge about specific practices that are geographically and culturally specific. Acknowledgement of the author of the information will be detailed in any subsequent printing. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or drop by and say G’Day at http://tessaroselandscapes.blogspot.com/.
WHY? Possibly you’re wondering ‘Why create another series of books on growing vegetables, herbs and fruit when there are so many similar projects in existence for children already? My answer is myriad. New doesn’t always mean better Up until about a hundred years ago most people grew their own vegetables, fruit and herbs. About this time, the idea of specialised farms growing and supplying their produce to markets, who in turn supplied them to green grocers, was introduced and ran in parallel with home gardening. The ongoing increase in population in metropolitan centres, the demise of home and allotment gardening (and the subsequent loss of knowledge) was gradually bartered for the belief that quality produce could be obtained consistently and cheaply from the new system. Over the last forty to fifty years a large number of farmers have changed their production methods to suit the system rather than the customer. They began to utilise chemical fertilisers to produce more frequent, bigger, prettier more saleable crops whilst at the same time growing only those species that matured quickly and had more durable fruit. A great number of children attending early childhood institutions these days come from multigenerational family environments where neither they, their siblings, nor their parents have ever grown or raised foodstuffs or tasted the difference between home grown and commercial produce. Not only has there been a loss of basic self sustainability and a commercially institutionalised sensory deprivation, but we have also lost the crucial awareness of “Where things come from”. A common reason given in the media for these unregarded forfeitures is that increased urbanisation provides little or no space for self sustaining practices, however, in most cases even if the space is available the process is given very low or no priority. Rationales frequently provided for this strange precedence include the idea that anything we want we can always buy, we don’t have the time (because we want what we want now), we don’t have the knowledge ( I want to do it now, I want it to be easy and I want to get it right the first time) or that we have more important things to do (seriously what’s more important than knowing how to feed ourselves, developing a respect for our environment, regaining control over the production, quality, taste and composition of what we eat and cease to be blindly dependant on a small number of multi-national companies for our basic sustenance?) ‘Today, as never before in history, the meals of many children (and their parents) are often cooked by strangers and are likely to consist of highly processed foods that are produced anywhere in the world. Meals are often eaten casually, hungrily, in haste and even at times, alone.' (Alice Waters, 2002). It’s the convenience that ails you More and more studies have concluded that the epidemic of childhood obesity i, ADHD, asthma (Sodium Sulfite – E221 and Sulfur dioxide – E220), allergies and a sharp increase in children affected by autism (78 % in the last ten years), can be laid squarely at the feet of hyper palatable ii commercially grown, commercially processed, commercially packaged (the packaging can be just as harmful as the processing) foods. It’s mighty convenient but it’s altering your DNA and killing you by millimetres (or 10ths of inches). Just because you can doesn’t mean you should In the last few years there has been a shift in the structure of early childhood programmes caused by a trickle down demand from schools. As the schools become more corporatized in their structure, caught up in exchanging test scores for funding, their rigour demands more structured, quantifiable, rote preschool syllabi be implemented to prove educational readiness. This new demand calls on educators to account for each moment in care and comes at the expenses of unstructured creative play, social and emotional development opportunities and more often than not, nature based play. Whilst there are similar school based projects that introduce older children to concepts of nature through gardening, these projects have an educator/child ratio of 1:30 rather than the 1:10 available at pre-school institutions, are often treated more as distraction from “real ” education activity and often don’t cover the full gamut of growing, harvesting, preserving and eating.
Although great inroads have been made into implementing these programmes throughout the US there is still a separate view that they hinder children obtaining a “proper” education, and calls for them to be abolished. Cultivating Failure - How school gardens are cheating our most vulnerable students School Gardeners Strike Back Is Alice Waters "Cultivating Failure" with Edible Schoolyard Program? Alice Waters and school gardens are evil So much magic around the garden Beyond a garden in every school My suggestion would be that these programmes are not meant to replace literacy, numeracy or computer skills; we live in a world that requires these things as a basic vehicle for material success. Nature based programmes teach totally different lessons and ideologies and are intended to enhance and extend learning experiences. A simple activity offers so much The process of introducing children to natural concepts and extending these concepts with the practical exercise of growing their own vegetables can provide numerous teachable moments in an emergent curriculum. What opportunities can emerge when these seeds are planted? • Direct exposure to nature benefits physical and emotional health, • Proximity to, views of and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus, increasing attention span and enhancing cognitive skills, fostering brain development iii, • Multisensory experiences in nature help to build “the cognitive constructs necessary for sustained intellectual development” iv, • They integrate children by age, ability, and ethnic background. They help children feel good about themselves. They enhance self-esteem and offer children a peaceful feeling. They focus the perceptions of children on the region of the Earth where they actually live. They help children understand the realities of natural systems through primary experience. They demonstrate natural principles such as networks, cycles, and evolutionary processes. They teach that nature is a uniquely regenerative process. They support interdisciplinary, environmental education curricula. They provide microclimatic comfort and flexible, forgiving settings that are aesthetically appealing to all people. By implication, these are some of the advantages to children that are becoming lost as their use of the outdoors diminishes v, • Creative play is increased – natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imaginations and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity observable in almost any group of children playing in a natural environment Children develop a bond with the natural world that can form a foundation for environmental stewardship vi, • Natural playspaces and green space offers social interaction and prompts social support, • Children who spend more time playing in natural playspaces have more friends – the deepest friendships develop from shared experiences particularly in environments in which all the senses are enlivened vii, • Free play in nature and a natural playspace allows individual children to test themselves by interacting with the environment and activating their potential, viii • Children with exposure to nature may be more likely to ‘develop the psychological survival skills that will help them detect real danger’ ix, • Play in nature instils instinctual confidence x, • Nature introduces children to the idea, to the knowing, that they are not alone in this world and that realities and dimensions exist alongside their own xi.
How to use this guide – Each item in the index is hyperlinked to the relevant section within the document, in other words, click on the link once and it will take you there. To return directly to the index click on the Section heading or click on the symbol to return you here. Measurements within this guide are in metric format. For conversion to imperial format download a simple and free unit convertor here or you can do a conversion online here.
Table of Contents
About plants • Sun • Water • Food Taste & Smell • Bitterness • Saltiness • Sourness • Sweetness • Umami What to consider before getting started • Who’s going to use the garden • Money • Time • Effort • Experience • Universal access Addressing the practical considerations of constructing an edible garden • Soil • Sun • Water • Access • Concept of an outdoor educator • Tools and sheds • Wooden seats, Benches & Storage boxes • Security Garden Construction Different types of gardens • In-ground gardening • No dig gardening • Bale gardens • Above ground gardening • Rotating crops and green manures • Portable/moveable constructed raised garden beds • Vertical gardening • Container gardening • Gardening in Hypertufa Pots • Bag Gardening Potting benches Access Security Water supply • Rainwater Tanks, Barrels, Butts • Irrigation System Maintenance Vegetable support • Trellises • Towers • Garden arbours/arches/and more
Pre-planting preparation • Companion plantings • Companion animals and insects Planting • Simple classroom projects • Propagation • Planting seeds v’s seedlings • Planting seeds directly to the garden • Propagating seedlings – systems • Planting seedlings • Cold frames Nurturing Composting • Cold Composting • Hot composting • Vermicomposting • Bokashi composting Garden maintenance Weeding Pruning Pest and diseases control Mulching Fertilisers Types of fertilisers • Slow release chemical fertilisers • Animal manure • Blood and bone mixes • Fish fertilisers • Seaweed concentrates Manner of Application • Broadcasting • Compost tea • Foliar sprays Vegetables Killer tomatoes and poisonous potatoes • Key terms • Watering key Seasons Growing vegetables (in alphabetical order) Seed saving • Storing and organising your seeds and keeping a garden journal Appendix A - Irrigation System Maintenance Checklist Appendix B - Different mulches Appendix C - Optimal soil pH for vegetables Appendix D - Companion plants for vegetables Appendix E - Advisory proforma for use when herbicides/fungicides/pesticides are to be used in a playspace Appendix F - Toxoplasmosis Appendix G – Treated timber in playspaces, CCA, ACQ, LOSP & Tanalith E. Appendix H - Gardening safety Endnotes Bibliography
Table of Contents (continued)
About plants The first living things on Earth were unicellular microorganisms called prokaryotes. The first prokaryotes are thought to be blue-green algae. Everything else that is alive or has ever lived evolved from prokaryotes into what is termed “the last universal ancestor”. Every single plant that exists or existed, every single animal alive or extinct, every single human in every manifestation, evolved from the last universal ancestor. We are all interrelated on a cellular level. • • • • • • • • Plants provide most of the core components of the raw materials we take for granted in our daily lives. Plants through the continuous processes of photosynthesis, transpiration and respiration consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen and water. Plants produce basic and complex foodstuffs that form our diets. Plants are the basis of medicines. From camomile tea to Aspirin to complex antibiotics that are synthesised from plants found in places like the Amazon Basin. Plants produce timbers and fibres that are used in our homes and offices, building materials, furniture and paper are just a few commodities we could not do without. Plants produce raw latex which is the basis of all rubber and rubber derived products. Plants that existed and were buried underground millions of years ago produce coal and oil. Coal and coal gases are used to fuel power stations that provide electricity. Compressed coal produce diamonds that are used in jewellery and manufacturing. Refined coal is used to produce everything from roofing to explosives, batteries to medicines and fertilizers to food preservatives. Crude oil is refined to provide a variety of fuels, gases and lubricants, all forms of plastics (clothes, carpets and cars), medicines and cleaning products, deodorants, detergents and food preservatives, hearing aids and heart valves, ink, insecticides and toothpaste.
“Worldwide there are an estimated 5 to 30 million species of animals and plants, each genetically unique. Most remain unidentified. Some 1.4 million animal species alive today have been named and described. Named plant species are far fewer, numbering around 400,000.....A total of about 3,000 plant species, 200 of which have been domesticated, are used worldwide as a food source. However, just 20 of these plants provide more than 80% of our food at the present time” xii. Plants share the same requirements that humans have in order to survive, grow and reproduce. They need sunshine, food and water and to excrete. Sun Light is energy. Plants absorb the light from the sun and use it together with carbon dioxide and water to form sugar and oxygen, the process is called photosynthesis. The sugar is used within the plant to grow and reproduce. Reproduction usually takes the form of fruit and flowers. Like humans, too much sun can burn and dehydrate, too little can cause deficiencies and failure to thrive. In the absence of light the chemical processes within the plant change and the sugars that have been created are used to produce vegetation, fruit, flowers, nuts and seeds and energise these processes. The process is called respiration and the by-products are carbon dioxide and water. Water The primary component of humans and plants is water. Humans are made up of between 70-90% water and plants are composed of between 60-99% water. Plants use water to as a medium to move sugars and minerals around their systems to keep the plant cool and most importantly to keep the plant rigid and solid, growing upwards in search of more sunlight. This process is called transpiration. During transpiration water is drawn in through the roots and is pulled upward through the plant by evaporation of the water through the leaves. Transpiration uses about 90 percent of the amount of water that enters the plant. The other 10 percent is an ingredient of photosynthesis and cell growth. Food As well as Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen plants require 13 essential nutrients to maintain their health, grow and reproduce. These nutrients are broken down into two groups, Macro (things they require more of) and Micro (things they require less of). The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services web page xiii gives an excellent simplified explanation of each nutrient and how the plant uses them.
Taste & Smell One of the primary things that drew early man to plants was their use as food. Plants in turn either wanted to be eaten so their seeds could be distributed or actively discouraged use of their foliage and fruit by producing compounds that were bitter, acidic, caustic or poisonous. Over the years we have discovered ways to include most plants into our diet (including, in some cases, the caustic and poisonous ones). Until recently we were told that the tongue, our primary sense of taste, was divided into four sections, and that specific receptors in these sections (taste buds) recorded the different taste sensations. Only recently it was discovered that the original German research paper that this information was taken from was incomplete and had also been mistranslated. In order to appreciate the plants we eat it is appropriate to develop a vocabulary to describe what we taste. The current groupings for taste sensations are; Bitterness Bitterness is the most sensitive of the tastes, and is perceived by many to be unpleasant, sharp, or disagreeable. Common bitter foods and drinks include coffee, unsweetened tea, radishes, beer, olives, grapefruit or cumquats. Bitterness is of interest to those who study evolution since a large number of natural bitter compounds are known to be toxic. The ability to detect bitter-tasting, toxic compounds at low thresholds is considered to provide an important protective function. Amongst humans, various food processing techniques are used worldwide to detoxify otherwise inedible foods and make them palatable. Some African trees have a bark that is full of “tannin” and extremely bitter compound also found in tea, the intent is that the bitter taste prevents herbivores stripping all the trees foliage. Saltiness Saltiness is a taste produced primarily by the presence of sodium ions. Salt has been used for years as a preservative and most foods treated with brine/salt crusts like olives, fish or meat, taste very salty. Some chefs believe that the flavour of certain foods is enhanced with the use of salt; unfortunately we eat a large amount of processed foods that have what is called “hidden salt”. Over an extended period this unintentional consumption of salt can damage the body’s internal functions. Sourness Sourness is the taste that detects acidity. The most common food group that contains naturally sour foods is fruit, with examples such as lemon, grapefruits, orange, and sometimes melon. Wine also usually has a sour tinge to its flavour. Sourness like bitterness is another taste mechanism that is intended to prevent humans from consuming spoiled food and drinks, for instance if not kept correctly, milk can spoil and contain a sour taste. Sweetness Sweetness, usually regarded as a pleasurable sensation, is produced by the presence of sugars. Sugar is commonly produced from sugar cane and is refined into various forms. Other naturally derived sweeteners are honey, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, stevia and maple syrup. Like salt, processed foods can contain hidden sugars and glucose syrups which are obtained by processing corn, wheat, potatoes and tapioca. Umami Umami is described as a savoury or meaty taste. It can be tasted in cheese and soy sauce and is found in many fermented and aged foods. This taste is also present in tomatoes, grains, and beans. Umami is a Japanese word meaning "good flavour" or "good taste". What to consider before getting started Who’s going to use the garden Before you even begin to design your garden there are a number of essential questions you need to resolve that will determine its cost, position, structure and design. The questions relate to what consideration will this programme have within the centres philosophy (consideration will determine what money, muscle and time is available) and how it will encourage children’s connection to the natural world? We have encountered many centres where the desire for a natural playspace or garden stems from a single individuals desire and knowledge. Unfortunately if that person leaves the centre, the knowledge, desire and consideration goes with them and the playspace/garden is all too often allowed to fall into a state of neglect. The desire for and knowledge how a natural environment extends and enhances a centres philosophy and program needs to be supported by all staff. The knowledge can be acquired and introduced to the children even before the environment is created.
A number of presentations detailing natural play experiences, playspaces and gardens are detailed below and are free to use for training purposes: Introduction - Natural Play Spaces, Natural Playspace Design, Enhancing Children's Play in the Outdoors, Naturalistic Learning Environments - Three Case Studies NSW Forum March 2011, Edible Gardens, Climate Change, Climate Change - Positive Strategies for Introducing , Exploring and Empowering Young Children Money A vegetable garden can take many forms, from a no-dig garden to a raised gardens in beds or containers. The philosophy you develop, along with available space and inclusion requirements will determine the form of the garden and its cost. There are a number of private, public and corporate funding programmes available for such projects, along with the good old fashion centre fundraising. In Australia you may wish to have a look at http://www.philanthropy.org.au, http://www.grantslink.gov.au/, http://www.juniorlandcare.com.au/ Time Growing things takes time. They do not appear fully formed and pristine as we find them in the supermarket. It takes time to buy the seeds, potting mix and pots. It takes time to tend to the seedlings until they can be planted. It takes time to weed, feed and water the plants. However, the amount of time is diminished when these things are done in conjunction with a group, of enthused, curious and eager children who in turn learn valuable lessons about time and patience, success and failure, effort and reward. Effort There needs to be an effort to fully appreciate the reward. Or to quote Robert Collier, ”Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”. More often than not, the design, construction and maintenance of a garden falls to one individual. When this effort is taken on by educators and children they all share the joy of successes and the disappointment when things don’t go as planned. Both experiences teach important lessons about, effort, observation, choice, persistence, innovation and success. Experience Have you ever heard anyone say, “I wish I knew then what I know now”? Put simply, you can’t. Your centres’ philosophy about naturalistic play needs to entail what levels of exposure you deem to be beneficial to children’s learning. Whilst some experiences may be thought-provoking and stimulating to some age groups and children, to others the same experience may be misunderstood or cause distress. Some good examples of naturalistic philosophies in action can be found at: http://www.mindstretchers.co.uk, http://progressiveearlychildhoodeducation.blogspot.com/, http://tinytreksunplugged.blogspot.com/, http://theoutdoorpreschooltop.blogspot.com, http://growinggreenies.blogspot.com, http://nosuchthingasbadweather.blogspot.com/, http://forestschoolbracknellforest.blogspot.com/. “Through concrete experience, we observe and feel the world around us, while reflective observation helps us to make sense of that experience on a personal level. Abstract conceptualization allows us to think and generate new concepts, understandings, and strategies for action, as active experimentation provides opportunities to practice these concepts, understandings, and strategies in novel situations, which lead to the next concrete experience (Kolbe 1984). Universal access Whilst an inclusive policy is central to any high quality centre, implementing natural play experiences within this framework may seem problematic, but are by no means impossible. An excellent starting point resource is Janeen R Adil’s, “Accessible gardening for people with physical disabilities – A guide to tools methods and plants”. In addition, it is highly probable that the experiences, tools and plants specific to indigenous and ethnic cultures will serve to extend and enhance the naturalistic perspectives. I would also recommend viewing and drawing ideas from the Carter School sensory garden.
Addressing the practical considerations of constructing an edible garden Consideration of the factors detailed below should provide you with a design that once constructed, should be easily maintained and will work in conjunction with the local climate and eco system as much as possible Soil As any experienced gardener will tell you the key to growing anything is your soil. Soil in its natural form is usually comprised of four layers, the surface layer, Humus (O horizon) is decaying plant matter, Topsoil (A horizon) is a fertile mixture of the decaying vegetable matter and the decomposed parent material, Subsoil (B horizon) is a less fertile mass of decomposed parent material, Parent material (C horizon) is weathered rock specific to the area from which the upper soils are formed. A good growing medium needs to be: • Rich in macro/micro nutrients, (See NPK) • Free draining, • Full of organic matter that will hold moisture, • Freely aerated to enable micro organisms to live and assist in the breakdown of organic matter, • Have the appropriate ph level for what you’re growing If you intend to create an in ground garden and these components are missing or if on investigation you discover the existing strata is clay or compacted, then the soil may need to be “ripped” (this is where the soil is broken up, turned and mixed with other components such as soil conditioners) so that it can freely drain and is aerated. Based on the area to be used as garden the ripping may be done using hand tools or you can hire as a garden cultivator (ideally the hire company should explain how to use the machine and advise you of OH&S procedures – also see the section on Occupational Health and Safety Personal and Protection Equipment. The area may need the addition of organic matter, nutrients and have the pH tested, depending on what you wish to grow. The pH of the soil profoundly affects a plants ability to take up specific nutrients. The pH of a soil relates to the concentration of hydrogen or hydroxide ions present in the composition and is measured on a numerical scale from 0 to 14. Depending on their presence the soil can be acidic (lower than 7.0), pH neutral (7.0) or alkaline (greater than 7.0). Different vegetables are more productive when the soil pH suits them (see Optimal soil pH for vegetables).The pH can be checked by purchasing a soil pH testing kit and following the simple instructions. In Australia, I’ve frequently and successfully used the Manutec kit, although there are a number of cheap and simple kits on the market
From left: Soil profile Horizons O- A, Manutec pH testing kit, Soil pH testing kits in the UK, Soil pH testing kits in the UK, the affect of the incorrect soil pH level- failure to thrive, Testing pH is child’s play. Sun For any edible plant to have a chance to grow to maturity it must have at least six hours of sunlight per day. This is not an absolute, more a rule of thumb. In some climates UV radiation and evaporation may be more pronounced, requiring the use of shade cloth and regular irrigation. In other areas plants may require protection from frosts and winds which will kill them just as quickly. Rainfall and temperature determine the macro climate of an area. Up-todate Information about Australian climatic, temperature and rainfall zones can be found at the Australian Bureau of Metrology - here, here, and here or a comprehensive explanation of climate, the effect it has on plants and national charts can be viewed at the Diggers Club Website or a Sow What When poster purchased here . A generalised map of international climatic zones can be found here, information on the Köppen international climate classification system can be found here and specific annual temperature and rainfall information can be found here. If you’re in the US, a detailed guide for vegetables growing can be found here, a sowing calendar that can be tailored to your zip code here and a fantastic planting resource from Mother Earth News, here.
These resources are representative of a macro level; however because of a variety of geographical or meteorological factors, a totally different micro climatic region may exist within a designated macro area. For instance, a closed valley, close to the coast may host a tropical rainforest whilst the surrounding area is designated Mediterranean. An enclosed spot in your play space with excellent irrigation/drainage, close to a brick wall that shelters from the wind and stores and reflects heat may be considered a Mediterranean micro climate whilst in general you are positioned in a Subtropical area. Using the charts above you can choose suitable plants for your zone and climate, increasing the chance of a positive gardening outcome. Water As previously mentioned water is an integral part of the growth and fruition of plants. Any garden you create should be positioned close to a source of water that can be applied as required. To determine how much water your plant needs read the label that comes in the pot. When in doubt utilise the 'little and often' rule. Whilst some plants require “wet feet” others prefer a soil that drains quickly. The amount of water you need to provide will be determined by, the type of plant, the cycle within the plants growth (fruiting/flowering plants will require more than dormant plants), the climate and the type of soil. The flip side to irrigation is drainage. Your garden should be positioned so that excess water will drain away quickly. Drainage can be created in beds and gardens by ensuring the sub bed layer is made up of a friable (easily crumbles when dry) material or installing sub surface slotted drainage pipes. Depending on the extent of your funds you may even wish to harvest the runoff into a detention pit, rather than the stormwater drain, and then recycle it back into your rainwater tank. A number of centres utilise water harvested from their roofs (this is discussed in Rainwater Tanks). Tanks can be gravity fed or have an electric or solar powered pump added. A great number of centres chose to use rainwater for irrigation without determining what size tank is required to harvest a sufficient amount of water to provide an adequate supply to the garden. A backup plan in case of infrequent rain is also something that should be considered Access Access relates to access to the garden, the beds, storage for tools and supplies, potting benches, water, shade and composting areas. Beds need to be accessible height and width wise, (most prefab’s come in a variety of heights and shapes) and preferably, if above ground, have solid sides that children can lean or sit on. Ideally its preferable to have at least 1 - 1.2m (3.2-4’) space on two sides of a raised garden bed or between beds for wheelchair access. A favourite design of mine is the keyhole garden which allows equal accessibility from every point. Videos on how to create a low cost garden can be found here Keyhole Garden - How to make an African style raised bed, Lesotho Video - How to Make a Keyhole Garden - African style, City Farmer's Keyhole Garden, How And Why To Build A Keyhole Garden. In wet climates and where wheel chair access is required consideration should be given to installing a solid permeable surface between the beds, e.g. decomposed granite and or a permeable surfacing such as “Stoneset”. Concept of an outdoor educator Gardens are living organisms that requires constant attention and monitoring. How, when, what, where, and why? All questions pertinent to the upkeep of a garden that have to be answered. If nothing else gardening is not about absolutes, it is about experience stemming from trial and error. That experience can come in the form of a professional horticulturalist, an experienced gardener, online forums, hard /electronic books and magazines or all of the above. What you require is an individual or a group who can take in the information from the aforementioned sources and utilise it to make constant decisions about the, placement, structure, planting and maintenance of your garden. My experience from interacting with a number of centres is that it is preferable to have more than one individual charged with care of the edible garden. Beds can be split and assigned to each teacher, room or age grouping who are then free to plan and plant their own beds. In addition it is a common knowledge management practise to maintain a garden diary detailing how the bed was prepared, what was planted, irrigation, fertilising, how the plant fared, harvests, etc. As well as providing a written and visual or audio visual record of the groups’ activities it provides information continuity should an educator leave.
Tools and sheds You’ve heard the expression, “The right tool for the job”? Using the correct tool whilst gardening can save you a great amount of time, effort and is generally safer. With children it’s preferable to use scaled down versions of gardening tools, however most on offer are either poorly engineered or use substandard materials in their construction. The only Australian company I‘m aware of that participate in the design of their range of childrens gardening implements and are 100% behind their products are Twigz and The Diggers Club in Victoria. The Diggers Club childrens range can be viewed here and here. In the UK the The Recycle Works appears to have quite a large range of well crafted childrens gardening equipment as does the Victoriana Gardens Nursery and Spotty Green Frog (they have bundle deals for nursery and primary schools). Most of the featured tools come from the Joseph Bentley Apprentice range and are hand crafted with carbon steel and ash wood handles. In the US the one stand out appears to be Montessori Services who specialise in, “bringing hard-to-find, child-size practical life materials into the classroom”(or in this case playspace). They have a range of garden tools and equipment (including a child size snow shovel). All tools should be cleaned after use and prior to storing them. Tools should be assessed for damage annually or where they are used continuously, as required, and should be serviced and replaced if damaged beyond repair. All tools and gardening equipment should be stored in a dry secure place close to your garden. Prefabricated sheds can be purchased in a number of colours, sizes and configurations, mostly all of them with securable doors. Wooden seats, Benches & Storage boxes Wooden seats and benches can also double as places of storage for garden supplies. The finished product should be free draining to avoid water pooling, child dimension accessible, lockable and incorporate support in the form of struts or braces to ensure that once the lid is opened it can be secured and will not present a safety hazard. Security Ideally every playspace should be secured after hours, but the realities are that this is not always the case. Regardless of overall centre security your garden area should be enclosed. You can have a fence constructed or construct your own. Before starting a fence, check your local councils, shire or parishes construction regulations to see if they’re applicable. The type of fence you chose is usually determined by functionality, safety considerations (regarding the material used), budget, available materials, climate, surrounding wildlife, construction expertise and finally aesthetic appeal.
From left: A mailbox provides ideal weather proof storage. Incorporating a storage box seat into the garden bed, a free standing waterproof storage box and seat. Garden Construction Different types of gardens In-ground gardening In ground gardens may appear to be the simplest option, however, as mentioned, depending on the existing terrain an amount of work may need to be done prior to any plantings. (see Addressing the practical considerations of constructing an edible garden, Sun, Water and Pre-planting preparation). You will also need to permanently remove any existing vegetation that may compete or smother what you intend to grow, this may be done mechanically, by hand or with the use of herbicides. If you intend to use herbicides see Pest and diseases control for more information about soil residuals and alternative non chemical treatments. Garden edging - Garden edging is useful for in ground gardens to delineate one area from another and to restrain (soil or mulch). Usually edging is made from a H4 timber (treated pine rated for in-ground use) and is held in place using similarly treated pegs. Edging may also be made of aluminium, brick or stone. Initial construction will be flush to the ground or at a height that presents no tripping hazard.
No dig gardening No dig (or no till) gardens (NDG) have been around for a while, however in Australia the most prominent pioneer of the technique was Esther Dean. As previously mentioned, to grow, a plant needs water and nutrients, hydroponic cultivation demonstrates that this can be supplied by a variety of mediums. NDG’s are a long term organic gardening concept and are exactly what the term suggests, a garden bed formed on a flat surface in which plants can be grown. A NDG may be used for a variety of reasons, e.g. if the soil has been depleted of nutrients, where soil erosion can be a problem, if an inordinate amount of soil preparation needs to be carried out or where minimal effort in maintaining the garden is desired. NDG’s can be even be built where there is no soil (e.g. on concrete) as long as there is adequate drainage. There are a variety of methods and preferences in creating NDG‘s, however the core concepts and actions are similar. Onto soil or lawn - a surface is covered with (1/4“/2.5cm) wetted non coloured paper or cardboard over which alternating layers of lucerne hay (8”/ 20cm), organic fertiliser (chook poo is sometimes called dynamic lifter), a layer of loose straw (8”/20cm ), organic fertiliser topped by a layer of organic compost (4”/10cm). Hard surfaces – same as above except the first layer (4”/10cm) should consist of small sticks, leaves or seaweed, then proceed as above. xiv
From left: Laying cardboard on the lawn, adding the lucerne hay, organic fertiliser, organic compost and final planting - All photos property of Samuel Mann, Dunedin North, Dunedin, Otago, NZ, 2008. Bale gardens Another form of no dig garden is the bale garden. Bales can be cheaply purchased, are relatively light to move and can be the garden or can be used as edging for a raised bed. The best bales to use are those comprised of straw that has been processed through a thresher, where the seeds have been removed (e.g. wheat, oats, rye or barley straw). Hay bales can be used, but may contain hay seeds, weeds and grass seeds (e.g. lucerne, alfalfa, pea straw, or vetch hay). Straw unlike hay is mostly carbon, so requires nitrogen supplementation. Bales need to be secured with a UV resistant, non degradable binding that helps them maintain their form until they have broken down for composting. To deter pests it is a good idea to lay galvanised chicken wire/bird netting under the bales. Comprehensive videos detailing how to create your own straw bale garden can be found here and here and detailed construction steps can be found here.
Above ground gardening Raised or above ground garden beds can usually be constructed quickly, situated in the most ideal spot for plantings to thrive, are child-height and are essential in centres that are on concrete slabs. Beds are usually constructed with timber, pre-moulded corrugated steel, pre-moulded concrete sleeper kits or sand/soil filled socks.
From left: pre-moulded corrugated steel, timber, pre-moulded concrete sleeper kits or sand/soil filled socks Pre-moulded corrugated steel raised garden bed kits come in an infinite variety of sizes, shapes and colours and can be quickly assembled with just a screwdriver. Most kits come with a moulded rubber segment that covers the top edge of the bed. I have discovered that even though most fit on and stay in place 99% of the time, a few drops of anaerobic adhesive will make sure they stay in place permanently. Kits can come with optional components, such as clip-on potting benches as well as irrigation, trellis and netting kits. Raised timber garden beds can be custom build or purchased in kit form. In Australia timber for use outdoors is treated so it is resistant to moisture and pests and categorised according to how it is to be used. For instance H3 timber can be used outdoors but not in-ground, whereas H4 timber can be. Depending whether it is a kit or custom build, the level of carpentry knowledge required may range from elementary to advanced. Contemporary “group thought” is that CCA cannot be used in DIY Raised wooden bed - click the construction of edible garden beds current DIY garden bed seat - click studies by a number of national and international research establishments indicate the contrary, as long as certain practices are followed. If you’re still not convinced after reading Appendix G, DO NOT USE IT; use ACQ, LOSP or Tanalith E. instead. Raised concrete garden beds are made from a blend of sand, gravel and cement, reinforced with steel and moulded in the form of a hardwood railway sleeper. They are a great solution to the problems of timber deterioration in high moisture areas or in areas where the timber may be subject to insect infestation. Compost filter socks or “soxx” are a tube shaped “mesh containment system” that are filled with a compost mixture. The soxx are versatile in that they can be used as a border for a garden or as the garden bed. Soxx can be used on hard surfaces, stacked, on window sills, hanging, attached to fences or on terraced stands. Ongoing maintenance - Ensure that the foundations of the bed have not shifted. If the bed is constructed of timber make certain that all sleepers are free from damage from moisture or insect infestation and have not cracked or warped. Visually inspect the bed to make sure all nails, bolts or screws used in construction are flush with the surface of the timber or countersunk. If the bed is constructed from pre moulded corrugated steel determine whether all fasteners are tight and if not retighten or replace. In some beds the plastic seal that clips over the sharp upper steel edge sometimes splits or slips. Ensure that it is still secure around the perimeter, if not refit or replace. Rotating crops and green manures Garden beds, whether they be raised or in ground will be depleted of nutrients as crops are grown. Two solutions for this are crop rotation and the use of “green manure” crops. A more detailed explanation including examples can be found here. Crop rotation has been used for hundreds of years to ensure that nutrients, specifically nitrogen, is returned to the soil, by the alternating growing of nitrogen drawing and fixing crops. Rotation also avoids the build–up of pathogens in the soil (which can occur when the same crops are grown continuously), can improve soil fertility and structure by alternating shallow and deep rooted vegetables and can help to control pests and soil erosion. Crop
rotation can be employed over three to eight years and with at least four garden beds. Given the constraints on space in early education settings and a desire to situate the beds in the area which receives the maximum sunlight, a four (small) bed rotation system would suffice with crops of green manure, brassica, root and legume crops. More information on setting up your four year rotation system can be found here , here, here and here. A variety of plants can be used as green manure crops e.g. peas, oats, beans, vetch, clover, mustard greens, lucerne and comfrey to name just a few. Green manure returns nitrogen to the soil and improves soil aeration and fertility without disturbing the soil. Green manure crops suppress weed growth and provide organic material that aids in moisture retention and reduces the need for the addition of fertilisers. Portable/moveable constructed raised garden beds In some centres it may be practical to utilise a raised garden bed that is portable or movable. This may be because of space restrictions, climate (heat/frost) or security from people or other nocturnal herbivores. Beds should be child accessible (to their waists) and can have at least two wheels on one end and rubber stoppers of equal height on the other or wheels on all legs providing they are lockable. This allows the bed to be pushed on all wheels or moved in a wheelbarrow fashion, whilst the stoppers aid to hold it in place. You may consider adding wooden handles to the stoppered end to aid in easy of movement. The beds should be free draining and water proofed/ resistant, with weep holes at the base of the tray, over a 5-10mm gravel foundation layer. Over this you can add either a specific bagged mixture of soil or make your own utilising clean soil, compost, peat and vermiculite/perlite (to lessen the weight and for water retention). As you can see from the examples below these types of beds can be custom made from timber, plastic or steel or a combination thereof. They can also be constructed of up-cycled materials such as the commercial metal liquid container frame which has had wood and castors added to its base and its interior lined with a fine permeable geotextile material to form a strong, efficient and cheap movable bed. If you intend to retro fit a bed like the wooden one pictured below you will need to consider the weight when purchasing castors/wheels and how they will be fixed to the legs. Screws will invariably work loose if the bed is moved frequently, however attaching a horizontal layer of ply between the legs and bolting the wheels castors to this will provide a more structurally stable unit.
From left: pre-constructed timber, plastic with an inner layer, moveable metal frame with fibreglass/plastic trough, up-cycled steel/wood and geo-textile. Vertical gardening Vertical gardens have existed in a variety of forms for quite a while (remember the hanging gardens of Babylon) but have gained a lot of press recently due to major installations at new eco-design complexes, galleries and airport lounges. “Green walls” as they are now termed utilise hardy, low maintenance plants that are generally nonedible. In 1915, Gilbert Ellis Bailey detailed his concepts of what he called “Vertical Farming” in his book of the same name. Vertical gardening (of edible plants) has always been a choice where limited space and sunlight are considerations. A number of companies now provide kits for the construction, containment and irrigation of vertical gardens (in Australia there are Elmich, Wall Garden and Gro-Wall, but they can easily be constructed of cheap, discarded and recycled products. Low Tech magazine provides full instructions on how to create a self watering vertical garden using plywood and empty soft drink /soda bottle. Robs World provides ideas for using old jeans, vertical shoe organisers and shipping palettes and exceptionally interesting DIY links to projects to promote vertical gardens amongst impoverished communities using reclaimed products in Africa and England.
From left Thinking outside the horizontal: Mason jars and herbs, espaliered pumpkins and tomatoes, old guttering can make an ideal hanging bed (drainage holes ensure that watering the top layer also waters the two beneath), Numerous squashes growing up, over and through a trellis (Rosemoor Royal Horticultural Garden in Great Torrington, England - Image: Flickr member me'nthedogs under license by Creative Commons), a used pallet converted into a herb and veggie garden off the veranda. Container gardening Like vertical gardens, gardening in containers is the perfect solution when space, climate or portability are issues. Obviously shallower containers can be used for herbs or vegetable whose bulk is above the ground and deeper containers used for root vegetables like carrots or potatoes. All containers should be free draining and have a layer of 5-10mm gravel in the base (for drainage and stability). Bear in mind that dark coloured containers will absorb heat which may damage the plants root system. If you have no other containers to use try painting the outside white and moving the container into a semi shade position. Containers can be pots that you have purchased or found, up-cycled product packaging i.e. Styrofoam containers, large plastic soft drink bottle and jugs, wooden boxes, ceramic discards (lengths of piping laid vertically) or even old takeaway boxes. Ensure every container you intend to use is cleaned (and disinfected) thoroughly and if you have worries about the items containing BPA’s (Bisphenol A), DON’T USE THEM or research the product further. You can easily avoid using harmful plastics in your container gardening. Look for the recycling symbol on your container. If it has the number seven inside or beside it, this plastic contains BPA, and you should just recycle it. Usually a simple call to the manufacturer will be enough to provide answers about their composition. The Container Gardening blog site, A Minneapolis Homestead blog site and Mother Earth News are comprehensive sources of information on BPA’s in containers. It has been my experience that bagged soil is more expedient for container gardening. If you have little enough space to garden, you have even less to compost or store and mix the elements for a good growing medium. Bagged mixes are usually disease free; contain macro/micro fertilisers, composts and organic matter or water retention components. In Australia look for bagged gardening products that have the “five ticks of product approval”, this means that they comply with the strict guidelines set by Standards Australia. Container grown vegetables need to be fertilised more frequently than garden grown items this is because they have less soil area to draw nutrients from. Usually a bagged soil mix contains macro/micro nutrients, however your container will need additional fertiliser as what is in the soil is taken up by the plants and flushed by watering. Depending on the plant you may wish to add diluted liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed every few weeks to provide the boost they need. The Journey to forever and Planet Green websites are great sites that are devoted to gardening in small spaces and have an impressive amount of additional information, links and books on the subject.
From left: Recycled BPA free plastic containers, eclectic rooftop container garden, a recycled BPA soft drink bottle with carrots, old champagne boxes planted with lettuce, a ceramic pot with a bounty of carrots, Up-cycled vertical container installation, Finland.
Gardening in Hypertufa Pots If you want to combine the creative activity of pot making with gardening then Hypertufa is for you. Hypertufa has been around since the 1930’s and is created with using perlite, peat moss and cement. Because of their composition, hypertufa pots are lightweight and porous meaning great drainage. Large recycled food containers can be used as cheap moulds for the pots. The shape and size of your pots is only restricted by your materials and imagination, textures and vegetation (e.g. leaves) can be incorporated into the moulds to create unique vessels. Specific simple instruction about how to make pots can be found here. Note: Portland cement is not a brand name, but the generic term for the type of cement used in virtually all concrete. Because of the components of cement and its form I would advise that this activity not be undertaken with children and that you wear suitable protective clothing, gloves and eye/face protection Bag Gardening In recent years with the creation of durable and UV stable plastics, gardening in bags, whether that is a purpose built grow bag, an old builder’s material/skip bag, an up-cycled woven plastic shopping bag or potting mix/soil packaging has become popular. The advantages are similar to other container growing methods, affordability, virtually no construction, portability and adaptability. Because of the depth of the bags you can grow shallow and deep rooted crops As previously mentioned for other types of container gardening, the growing medium (potting/soil/compost mixtures) is determined by available space and expedience, all you need to ensure is that there is appropriate irrigation and drainage. Because a quality soil/potting mixture is constructed with a sterile soil component you shouldn’t have to worry about weed seeds or soil borne diseases
From left: DIY Hypertufa pots, DIY soil bag garden, a commercially manufactured plastic garden bed, reusing biodegradable plastic shopping bags. Potting benches Potting benches are a usual fixture in a lot of gardens. The intent of the bench is to provide a dedicated surface, at a comfortable height, where potting, pruning, transplanting and cleaning veggies can take place. This is especially helpful for children who may still be developing their fine motor and hand/eye coordinating skills. The bench can also act as a place for centralising all you garden needs. Depending on how it is constructed (e.g. with drawers, shelves or bins) you may be able to store your gardening equipment, potting/seed raising mixtures, pots and seeds. Some customised benches have sinks well as tape/hose connections. Given that your bench will be subjected to changeable weather conditions it should be weatherproofed or constructed of weatherproof material.
From left: (1-3)Three benches of varying heights and designs all constructed from recycled hardwood shipping pallets, DIY painted bench with galvanised screen to hang your hand tools and space underneath for storage, A DIY potting bench with a tap.
Access Every garden needs easy, even and free draining access within its confines for safe passage of its users, to link areas together (e.g. storage, beds, potting, sheds) and to provide easy transportation of bulk materials. Garden paths can be simple and flexible, e.g. a free draining vegetative or gravel mulch over a level compact surface or more ornate, permanent and hard like the examples below. Depending on the substrata and how they’re constructed consideration should be given to installing subsurface drainage beneath pathways. The drainage can be linked to the stormwater creating a rain garden, directed to a percolation tank, or both. Pathways should be constructed so as to inhibit weed growth, be clear of tripping hazards (i.e. in the structure of the path and from vegetation growing beside the path) and be non-reflective If you intend your pathway to be used by people with mobility difficulties it should be at least 1-1.2 metres in width be solid, even and free draining. Handrails and seats can be installed for added support and to provide areas to rest.
From left: Examples of flexible pathways, constructed of recycled hardwood storage pallet boards, old bricks and remnant tiles set in a gravel bed, a gravel bed with handmade leaf stepping stones Security Ideally a garden area should be fenced, as much to keep out unwanted human and animal pests as to delineate its purpose. Fences can be created from wood, steel, aluminium, wire, bamboo or hardwood timber branches that have been finished and woven with hazel or rattan. Nets or transparent/translucent materials are frequently used in addition to fencing to protect gardens from birds and bats. The boundary acts as: • A visual demarcation of the garden from play areas, to avoid unintentional damage to your crops, • Security for the plants from rabbits, possums, cats and other nocturnal animals that may be seeking a meal of new fruit or shoots or a place to defecate, • Shelter from the wind. • Separates the rest of the playspace from equipment, potting and composting areas. Examples of low cost garden bed fencing
From left: Fences made from Palm tree fronds, Bamboo and brush, Bamboo, Wood with fret-worked cats heads, heavy duty geo textile material suspended from rope and dug into the perimeter of the garden, wire fence with bird houses and finally old discarded wooden packing pallets (to be dug into the ground vertically and utilised as a composting bin). Water supply It would be great if you could plant your plants and all the moisture they need to grow and thrive was supplied by the local rainfall. Unfortunately with the current unpredictability of weather patterns, local water restrictions and different plants requiring different moisture levels, the key to a successful garden is not watering but watering correctly.
Watering correctly requires you to: 1. Be aware of the appropriate level of moisture each plant needs during each stage of its establishment, growth and fruiting. Watering too often and poor drainage excludes oxygen from the soil, an equally important component for plant growth, 2. Monitor the moisture levels in the soil - sometimes if the weather is particularly hot, watering once a day may not be enough, 3. Ensure that when you irrigate the water is delivered to the right spot (the root zone), at the right depth (water plants deeply so the roots grown down, away from surface heat) at the right time (to avoid loss from evaporation and leaf scorching). Watering in the early morning is optimal. Water has time to soak in with lesser risk of evaporation and water that falls on leaves is evaporated during the day providing less opportunity for fungal spore germination. 4. Make sure that the organic matter within the soil that holds moisture has not decomposed, if it has replace it, 5. Protect your watering efforts by mulching the garden beds
From left: Ideas for watering - convert any PET bottle into a watering can with these screw on lid/spouts, a watering can made from a clean recycled laundry detergent bottle, a new take on an old idea, a “thumb pot” made from a used container, water and protect new plants with a plastic refillable irrigation cell, a DIY solar powered irrigation system, A solar powered irrigation system for those not into DIY. Delivery of the water to the garden can be a major problem. A great number of dead plants have been the victims of good intentions. Meaning, a centre may start with the idea of having the children hand water the plants, however this practise is often derailed by weather, holidays, illness etc. To ensure plants are constantly and adequately watered rain water harvesting and use is recommended. Rain water tanks and an integrated irrigation system is are discussed below Rainwater Tanks, Barrels, Butts xv In an effort to promote rain water harvesting (RWH) and use in Australia, Federal, State and Local government bodies provide rebate incentives depending on the size of the tank and its uses. Details of Australian grants can be found here. Details of US incentives and rebates can be found here. In the UK there is a tax relief scheme (ECA) for commercial installations (check to see if your childcare institution/business is deemed a commercial body) of suitable approved equipment on the Water Technology List, grants are also available from Aquafund and the Irish government here. The Europe Union maintains a comprehensive environmental policy on water use which can be viewed here, however I haven’t been able to find any specific grants or funding initiatives within its website. Each of the aforementioned areas has attempted to address the issue of RWH in its own way, i.e. drafting building codes to include RWH in new residences, passing legislation to regulate who and how much water can be harvested and promoting education campaigns as to the benefits and mechanics of harvesting systems. Information about RWH in the US can be found here, The UK here, Europe here and an International site here. General - Industrial emissions and pollution in highly populated areas can reduce the quality of water harvested by your water tank, these are factors that you have minimal influence over. Regular maintenance to your water tank and the catchment area is an important process you can undertake to ensure the quality of the water you harvest is not compromised. Implementing a maintenance program is the most effective method to ensure it is carried out regularly and effectively. Ongoing maintenance - In general, house and shed roofs are used as catchment areas. Rainwater can be collected from most types of roofs, providing they have not been painted with lead-based paints or coated with bitumenbased material.
Some types of new tiles and freshly applied acrylic paints may affect the colour or taste of rainwater and the first few run-offs may need to be discarded. As a precaution, chemically treated timbers and lead flashing should not be used in roof catchments. Also, if possible, rainwater should not be collected from parts of roofs incorporating flues from wood burners. Overflows or discharge pipes from roof mounted appliances such as evaporative air conditioners or hot water systems should not be allowed to discharge onto the roof catchment area or gutters. First-flush devices can be used to prevent the first rains from flowing into the tank after a dry period. This will reduce the amount of dust, bird droppings, leaves and debris that have accumulated on the roof from being washed into the tank. The use of these devices is recommended. Alternatively the tank inlet could be disconnected so that the first run-off of rain after a dry spell is not collected. Roof catchments should be kept clean and clear of leaves and debris. Overhanging branches should be removed. Gutters should be regularly inspected and cleaned if necessary. The use of screens/ guards should be considered and all screens should be cleaned regularly. Inspect your tank structurally ensuring the lid is firmly closed, repairing any holes or gaps. Check for evidence of access by animals, birds or insects. If there is evidence of algal growth, repair and ensure no light access. Check piping to ensure they are firmly fastened and draining correctly. Water ponding in gutters must be prevented as it can provide breeding sites for mosquitoes and could lead to eggs being washed into tanks. Tanks should not be allowed to become breeding sites for mosquitoes. If mosquitoes are detected in a tank, the entry point should be located and closed. For most types of tanks mosquito breeding can be stopped by adding a teaspoon (5 ml) of domestic kerosene. However, kerosene should not be used in plastic tanks. Alternatively you may wish to contact the health section of your local council for advice on treatments. Tanks should be examined for accumulation of sludge at least every 2-3 years. If sludge is covering the bottom of the tank it should be removed by siphon or by completely emptying and rinsing the tank. Professional tank cleaners are available in some areas. Excessive sludge is a sign of inadequate maintenance of the catchment area (roof and gutters). Generally disinfection of tank water should not be necessary. However, if it is suspected that water in the tank is contaminated, it can be disinfected using 40 ml of liquid sodium hypochlorite (12.5% available chlorine) or 7 grams of granular calcium hypochlorite per 1000 litres of water. A chlorine taste and odour may persist for a few days but this does not make the water unsafe for drinking. Stabilised chlorine should not be used. Every quarter you should - clean and check the operation of first flush devices on your pump, remove the cover of the pump, clean leaf litter and dust, inspect gutters as they are cleaned, if large amounts of debris are present, increase the regularity of your cleaning program, clean screens and inlet points. Biannually you should - Clear leaf litter and other debris from your roof, check for overhanging branches to be pruned. Check if animals, birds or insects have accessed the tank, especially in hot weather, if they have close the access points. Check for mosquito larvae and algal growth, if it is present, close points of light entry. Check the tank to see if any general maintenance needs to be undertaken, any defects or repairs to be made to the tank. If your tank has a pump clean pump filters and strainers, if the pump is loose secure it, clean or replace water filters. Annually - If your tank has disinfection systems, replace UV lamps. If you have a below ground tank with mains back-up get your local plumber to check your back flow prevention valves. Check the structure of your tank for any degradation. Check that surface water does not enter your tank during storm events. Arrange for the removal of any accumulated sediment located in your tank.
From left: Overflow & discharge pipes should not be allowed to discharge into roof catchment areas, Overflow pipes should not dump back into the playground, Regular inspections ensure the structural integrity of tank and its stand
Irrigation System Maintenance General - As discussed in the WATER and WATER SUPPLY sections plants require a consistent and accurate supply of water on a constant basis to allow them to establish a supportive and functional root system. After their establishment period they will require regular watering to assist with transpiration and combat evaporation. Unless you can absolutely guarantee that you, staff or children are prepared to water vegetation on a daily basis then an automated irrigation system is an essential investment. If set up correctly the system will be able to deliver the exact amount of water to exactly the right spot at exactly the right time, reduce pollution from run-off and overirrigation, turn itself off if rain occurs during set watering periods, conserve water and minimise weeding. Ongoing maintenance - A poorly maintained irrigation system means that much of the amount of water that is used never reaches its intended source and is lost to runoff, evaporation and deep watering below the root zone. At a minimum, a check of the irrigation system should be performed twice a year. Irrigation system maintenance is necessary to ensure the most efficient use of the amount of water that is being applied. These maintenance recommendations will help you evaluate your irrigation system before using it each spring and also throughout the growing season. Irrigation Controller - Irrigation controllers in a children’s playspace, whether they are mains or battery powered, should be removed from the direct access of children or placed in a lockable receptacle that also encloses the battery compartment or mains connection. Controllers should be checked at the beginning of each growing season before running the sprinklers for the first time. First, find the manual for the controller. If the manual has been lost or misplaced, check the manufacturer’s web site for downloadable versions or information on how to order one. Becoming familiar with the irrigation controller’s manual will make spring start-up quick and easy. Open the controller’s cabinet and clean out any cobwebs, dirt, or debris. This is also a good time to change the battery and check the wiring for any loose connections. Check all wire connections, including the rain sensor connection if one is attached. If a rain sensor is not attached to the controller, consider adding one to your irrigation system. A rain sensor is inexpensive, simple to install, and will automatically shut off the irrigation system when a significant amount of rain falls. Next, check the time and day showing on the controller and correct them if necessary. This is also the time to set up an irrigation schedule. If the landscape has slopes, sandy, or clay soils, split the irrigation runtime into two or more cycles to avoid runoff or ponding. Sprinkler System - Once the irrigation schedule is programmed, inspect the sprinkler system by checking the valves, sprinkler heads, and emitters. Before running the system, remove the last sprinkler head in each line and let the water run for a few minutes to flush out any dirt and debris. Replace the sprinkler head and turn the system on, running one valve at a time. Observe the spray patterns and position of the sprinklers for obvious problems such as clogged or misaligned heads. Some sprinkler heads may be tilted, surrounded by grass, or even buried. If not positioned properly, these sprinkler heads will be unable to apply water efficiently. Some sprinklers also have built-in filter screens that should be cleaned and replaced if necessary. Watch for leaks and misting from sprinkler heads that may indicate high water pressure problems. High pressure problems may be corrected by plumbing a pressure regulator into the sprinkler system. Pressure-regulating sprinkler heads are also available. Make the necessary adjustments and repairs to the system in order to apply the water as evenly as possible. The flow control on the valves may also be adjusted to fine-tune the system. When this is done, turn the irrigation system on manually to make sure it is operating as programmed. Drip System -As with sprinkler systems, flush the drip system before running it by removing the emitters and letting water run through the tubing for a few minutes to flush out any dirt and debris. Replace emitters and run the system, one valve at a time, to check for problems. Clogged emitters should be replaced. If the system does not have a water filter, one should be installed. Check the placement of emitters. Emitters need to be at the edge of the root-ball on new plantings and moved to the drip line (edge of foliage) of established plants. Check for emitters that have popped off tubing because of high pressure, and install a pressure regulator if needed. Check to see that all emitters are in place. Missing and broken emitters need to be replaced to keep your system running efficiently. Look for pinched or broken tubing and straighten or replace it. Also make sure that all tubing is attached to the appropriate emitters and that connections are secure. Make the necessary adjustments and repairs to the system. When this is done, turn the irrigation system on manually to make sure it is operating as programmed.
Winterization - Basic winterization of a sprinkler system is quite simple. The water supply should be turned off at the main valve and the irrigation controller should be set to the “rain” or “off” setting. Each valve should be turned on to release pressure in the pipes and water should be drained from the system. Your system may have drain valves that can be opened for drainage, or you may have to blow out the system using air.
From left: (Picture 1 & 2) Irrigation controllers in a children’s’ playspace should be removed from the direct access of children or placed in a lockable receptacle that also encloses the battery compartment or mains connection, irrigation filter & replacement cartridges should be checked annually, check sprinkler heads to ensure they are not tilted, covered by grass or buried, displaced drip lines waste water and are trip hazards. Vegetable support Plants that are “climbers” ascend in a number of different ways. Most vegetables that are climbers utilises a twinning mechanism to move themselves upwards. Generally the tendrils twinning about the supports is sufficient to hold them fast but sometimes they need guiding and additional fastening, preferably agricultural string tied loosely. Moving these plants away from the ground means that there is a greater chance of more sunlight, there is less of a chance of being eaten by insects, there’s easier access for beneficial insects (who facilitate pollination), they dry more rapidly after rain reducing the risk of being contaminated with fungal spores and fruit rotting on the ground and the more foliage a plant produces means the greater the level of photosynthesis. An added benefit for growers in areas that can be subject to frosts is that the supports can be also utilised to provide a framework over which a cloche (a translucent bell-shaped cover used to protect plants from frost) can be draped. Vegetables that can be grown in this matter include tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, gourds, beans, peas, varieties of pumpkin and a number of Asian vegetable such as Bitter melons. Pumpkins can be enclosed or slung in old synthetic stockings or panty hose tied to the trellis to provided added support until they are ready to harvest. Trellises Trellises can be built perpendicular to a garden bed or at a gentle angle. Their frames can be created out of wood, metal or PVC piping and inserts of metal or plastic mesh or metal, plastic or agricultural string lines can be used to support the plants. Trellises can be built over a garden bed into which plants that require a semi shaded environment and can be planted or used as seasonal shade for a bean cubby house. Trellises are of great benefit in situations where gardening space is limited and you are growing vegetables that spread horizontally as well as vertically. They can also be used to extend the growing area of container planted vegetables and reduce tripping hazards from wayward tendrils. In any garden setting it is best to locate your trellis so that the plants may obtain the maximum sunlight throughout the day. For example in the southern hemisphere where the suns path is east/west the apex of a double sided trellis should be aligned north/south.
From left: A wooden and chicken wire trellis supporting cucumbers shading a crop of lettuce, A PVC trellis with rope lines supporting a crop of raised potted cucumbers (it’s easy to walk beneath the vines and harvest the crop), a wooden trellis with plastic rope lines attached to a raised garden bed supporting a crop of cucumbers, a set of timber “goal post” trellises with vertical cotton lines attached to a raised garden bed supporting peas, beans and cucumbers, a wooden and chicken wire “A-frame” bean cubby house completed with door.
Towers It’s not just climbers that need support. Vegetables such as “indeterminate” tomatoes have a twinning habit and will continue to grow and fruit (up to heights of 3m/10ft) until the end of their season. They require substantial support for themselves and their fruit and against the weather. Towers can be made from any variety of materials that are load bearing and weather proof and often have additional non-structural vertical components (rods or lines) that are intended as guides to lead the vines as they grow. Towers can be placed over a newly planted seedling (like an indeterminate tomato) to provide a number of separate points to secure the growing plant and evenly distribute its weight or beside a vine that grows vertically.
From left: twig art doubling as vegetable support, a plethora of peas rising on a home-made circular tower, a woven willow obelisk, a bamboo tepee/trellis tower showing form and function can be whatever is useful, pyramid shaped towers. Garden arbours/arches/and more Arbours and arches provide a combination of garden aesthetic and function. Architecturally they can provide a secluded shaded canopy that is especially appealing in the hot summer months, functionally they provide support and extend the area of growth (and harvest) of your vegetables. Arbour and arches are usually a more permanent garden fixture than trellises and towers, thus they are usually sturdier in their construction. With planning and consideration prior to building, the finished structure can be a purposeful extension of your garden as well as an integral natural playspace component.
From left: An arbour made from old barrel hoops at Seattles’ Tilth gardening organisation, a bamboo and hemp bean tepee, a simple DIY garden arbour and a nest tree house come bean trellis cubby house. Pre-planting preparation As previously mentioned in the Soil section, plants require the best possible growing medium in which to establish themselves and quickly develop to maturity. Pre-planting soil structure preparation is one of the important factors which will affect your final crop yield. Your soil should be friable, aerated, full of organic matter (that is moisture holding and breaks down to provide nutrients) free of diseases, weed seeds and parasites, at the correct temperature (in some areas), full of beneficial soil organisms (worms, beetles, centipede and ants) and at an appropriate pH for the crop you intend to grow. To ensure that your beds are ready you should commence to “work” them about a month prior to planting your seeds or seedling; • You can encourage the growth of beneficial soil organisms by the reduction of soil tilling and the application of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, Adding nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioners such as vermicompost to the soil. Using organic mulch to stabilize soil moisture and temperature and watering the soil effectively, soil organisms require an environment that is damp but not soggy. • Add composted organic matter if required (see Rotating crops and green manures), green manures turned back into the bed will add the all important nitrogen component, a similar effect can be derived from digging in any previous (nitrogen rich) mulch cover (Appendix B - Different mulches)
• Take small soil samples from different areas of you bed, combine them thoroughly and then separate half a teaspoons worth. Using you pH kit, test the value of the sample. Depending on what you intend to grow (Appendix C - Optimal soil pH for vegetables) you can add wood ash, and potash, lime (agricultural, quick or hydrated) to create a more alkaline soil. You can use composted organic matter, cow, horse or sheep manure, sphagnum peat or sulphur (elemental sulphur, aluminium sulphate and iron sulphate) to create a more acid soil. If you’ve added composted organic matter to you soil, test the soil a few weeks later as the integration of the compost into the soil may alter the pH value. • If you really believe that your soil is contaminated I would suggest removing it all, disinfecting the remaining bed and purchasing new soil. There are a number of commercial fungicides available to assist in soil disinfection; however there are simpler methods that do not present toxicity or residue problems. Soil solarisation is a chemical-free method of steaming soils to destroy diseases and kill weed seeds. The procedure requires turning and watering the soil before covering it with clear plastic tarp. The plastic tarp stores and attracts solar heat converting the moisture to steam, which in turn cooks the soil. Soil solarisation is most effective in the later spring and summer months for greater efficacy. The downside to this practice is that it also kills beneficial soil organisms. Companion plantings Companion plants grow well together. This benefits you because; • They assist in providing nutrients to the soil and reduce the need for fertiliser, resulting in greater yields, • They attract beneficial insects, who regulate pests and repel harmful insects, diseases and soil pathogens, • They may chemically suppress the growth of weeds; provide a shaded microclimate or climbing support. Another way of companion planting is growing together two different types of vegetables which feed at different soil levels. The best example of this is growing carrots and onions together. Onions' roots are very close to the top of the soil. Carrots on the other hand feed very deeply. By growing the two together you boost the productivity of your beds. (For more information see Appendix D - Companion plants for vegetables ) Companion animals and insects Whilst the contemporary solution to controlling pests and diseases in your garden is to use a chemical control, the control can frequently do more harm than good. Chemical controls are like antibiotics, they do not selectively target harmful pests, they kill everything, not to mention residuals that may remain in the soil and be taken up by your plants. An alternative is to attract and sustain colonies or individual beneficial companion animals and insects, which in turn, will assist in the protection, pollination and nurturing of your plants. Companion animals (Birds chickens, ducks, lizards, worms, frogs and toads) and insects (Bees, butterflies, wasps, spiders, praying mantis’, ladybug, centipedes and dragonflies) are an essential component of a productive garden and offer a biological control of destructive insects and diseases. To encourage companion animals, include a few native plants in your garden these provide a supply of berries, nuts seeds and nectar to encourage pest insect eating birds. Another incentive is a good supply of bird nest building materials and water baths which encourage the birds’ presence, health, and reproduction. Installing specified nest boxes for mosquito-eating bats reduces a pest and increases endangered species conservation. A water feature encourages frogs and toads. There are a broad variety of companion insects; predators, composters, recyclers, scavengers, pollinators and soil aerators. Provided they have a sustainable environment in which to live and are not subject to deadly chemical controls they will take care of your garden for you.
From left: A DIY bat roosting box, a bird nesting box that can adhere to your window, a hand painted bird nesting box, Up-cycling – a boot can be used as a bird nest, an artistic bird habit installation, a bee and insect house.
Planting Simple classroom projects Prior to planting a garden you may want to do a few simple activities with the children in your care to introduce the basic plant concepts referred to in About plants. These activities may also be of benefit if your climate or current season doesn’t allow you to venture outdoors. The activities below deal with growing very simple plants, which is a great opportunity to explore the basic plant concepts and practise activities which will extend developmental skills. These activities are by no means the only nature related activities you can attempt indoors or prior to planting a garden. I have listed additional ideas utilising plants, plant components and gardening concepts you may wish to attempt; • Have a senses day –explore touch, taste and smell of usual and unusual vegetables in their raw and cooked forms (see the Taste & Smell section and be aware of allergies and cultural preferences before you commence), • Create collages, with bark leaves and grasses, painting on leaves (great fine motor practice), • Dry & press flowers, leaves and grasses • Collect seeds, • Try tie-dying old t-shirts using vegetable colours, • Paint future plant containers (you can use the activity to introduce the concepts of ecology/recycling), • Make plant markers (see Planting seeds v’s seedlings), Build a bird/insect house or worm farm (See Composting), • Creating placemats and cards (with dried flowers, leaves and bark, adhesive plastic and cardboard), • Practice colour matching (collect a paint colour chart, cut out the rectangular sample swatches, punch a hole in each end, sort and stack them all into varying colours, use a simple cable tie to bind one end – the children can now use the holes in the swatches to match the colours with the plants in your garden), a great way to demonstrate there are more colours in a garden than green and brown, • Simple lunchtime composting practice with a Bokashi bucket (See Composting), • Arrange a visit to the local community garden, • Get the children looking at gardens in their neighbourhoods, pre-empting them cooperatively designing the layout of their preschool/centre/kindergarten gardening space. • Children can “adopt” and care for a plant – you can obtain plant adoption certificates here, I, II, III, and IV The website Kids Gardening is a great source of additional lesson plans, ideas and activities.
NOTE: The activities listed above do not use foodstuffs as art materials. This is because I believe that in a world where large proportions of the population, (not just in third world countries), are homeless, starving or suffering malnutrition it is inappropriate to tacitly promote the message that it is OK to waste food or use it as a plaything. Not to mention; The use of food in art may be offensive to some cultural groups, it’s slightly terrifying to inadvertently discover that a child in your care has developed dangerous tactile food allergies.... and basically there are always alternative materials that can be used.
From the left: Regrowing celery from its stem (you can use the same method to regrow shallots and pineapples), growing Chia seeds into sprouts, making and planting biodegradable newspaper pots, planting seeds in eggshell containers (biodegradable and a great source of calcium), make grass heads out of old socks, growing plants without dirt. Propagation The term propagation is often misused to exclusively describe plant multiplication by the use of cuttings and layering. Prior to the development of these techniques there was only one way to grow new plants from older stock – seeds. The whole process of collecting, drying, sorting and storing of seeds was something that was an integral part of the gardening/farming process, given that there were no commercial institutions or businesses that filled this role. As mentioned in the About plants Section, plants and products of plants provide us with the
core materials for items and services that sustain our lifestyle, with more items being discovered each day e.g. bio fuels, green roof architecture, medicines and antibiotic compounds, environmental solutions for the sequestration of greenhouse gases and cleaning polluted soil. So, most of the materials, products and foods we use in our daily life (and usually take for granted) are derived from plants and the quickest way to replicate plants is by seed. How does this affect me you may ask? ..... It does if one company owns all the seeds. How can one company own seeds? ...... You don’t collect seeds or grow plants that you use for materials, products and foods, this is done by farmers or primary producers and they derive their seed stock by saving part of their crop for subsequent plantings or buying their seeds from seed merchants. If one company buys up all the seed merchants, “patents” seeds and creates seeds that terminate after only one use or even genetically modifies seeds then they can effectively control the composition and taste of your food, how the food affects your health, what medicines and raw materials are available or even what future fuel sources are accessible. If you want further information on the topic I would suggest Clive Blazeys’ articles, Losing control of our seed supply, Wrestling back control of our food, Throwing tomatoes at Big Oil and Big W, Pat Mooneys’ article The New Genetic Engineering – Synthetic Biology and Penny Blazeys’ article Where did our heirloom seeds come from? or any of Andrew Kimbrells’ books. Further information about heirloom seeds, seeds saving and where to purchase seeds in Australia can be found at The Diggers Club or Seeds Savers. In the US you can purchase heirloom seeds from Victory seeds, Heirloom seeds, Heirloom Organics, Seeds of Change and Seed savers Exchange . In the UK you can purchase heirloom seeds from Real Seeds, Chiltern Seeds, Thomas Etty, Pennard plants, Victoriana Nursery, The Vegetable Seed Store and Adopt a veg. In Canada you can try Seeds of diversity, The cottage gardener and Hawthorn Farm organic seeds. In EU you can try Magic Garden seeds in Germany or seed swapping site such as Ewa in the Garden (Poland), Mas Du Diable (France), Lusthof (Garden of Eden) (Belgium), Braamekraal Farm (South Africa), Bifurcated Carrots (Netherlands), The Seed Ambassadors Project (USA), Crazytomato (Netherlands), Saith Ffynnon Farm (UK), Brown Envelope Seeds (Ireland), The Vegetable Garden (Belgium), Kitchen Garden of France (France) and Esculent et cetera (UK). Planting seeds v’s seedlings So having obtained your heirloom seeds the next big question is, Do I sow them directly into the soil or raise them as seedlings and transplant them after they’ve “hardened off”? Most seed packets contain general information about the planting aspect (how much sun), watering, spacing and the preferred method of sowing seeds; however the information ceases to take into account the experience of the gardener, the climate, the type of garden and the length of the planting season. What vegetables will grow in your area and when and how you should plant them is heavily influenced by the climate in your area and the defined growing season (see Addressing the practical considerations of constructing an edible garden, Sun) Buying a packet of seeds means that you know the origins of the plant you intend to grow, the packet usually contains more seeds than you may be able to use in a growing season meaning you may be able to swap the remainder with like-minded gardeners. The downside to buying seeds is that until you plant them you have no idea how many will sprout and grow successfully and during this maturing period they are susceptible to attack from pests and the elements. Buying and transplanting seedlings increases the plants chances of surviving transplant shock, however doesn’t give you the knowledge about the origins of the plant nor information in respect to what chemicals may have been used on them prior to you purchasing them. A simple alternative is to purchase seeds and raise them to seedlings before transplanting them to your garden. This gives you greater control over the origins of the plant, how the seedlings are raised, the ability to stagger the planting (some vegetables may take several months to mature) so you can maximise production throughout the planting season. Some seeds do not transplant well (e.g. carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips), others take root and grow quickly (e.g. peas, beans, corns, cucumbers, kale and leafy greens) both these types should be sown directly into your garden. Some vegetables are not grown from seed (e.g. Artichokes, asparagus, garlic, potatoes and sweet potatoes) and you will need to purchase root divisions, cloves, bulbs or bulbets and follow the directions given for planting.
From left: Gathering seeds, making seed mats, make your own seed bombs, make your own seeds tapes, make your own seeds strips. Planting seeds directly to the garden If you’re planting directly into your garden beds, then you’ve checked that the seed you intend to plant is correct for your climate zone (see Addressing the practical considerations of constructing an edible garden, Sun) the weather is favourable and you’ve prepared the soil (see Pre-planting preparation). For best results your bed should be moist and free of pests and weeds. Once you have sown them, cover with a nurturing mulch and mark each planting. See the four alternate planting methods linked above. Each seed packet contains directions for sowing including; • Whether they should be sown directly into the soil or raised as seedlings prior to being transplanted to the garden. • The season/s they should be sown in, • Sunlight required - will they grow best in a full sun or part shade position, • Spacing – the gap between each planting, • Height - the height the plant will grow to, some plants require support (see Vegetable support). It’s best to arrange the support upon sowing as attempting to install it later may damage root systems, • The depth at which the seed should be planted, (generally about 2-3 times the size of the seed), the correct depth ensures the speed at which each seed germinates, that the seed can absorb sufficient water, that the seeds cannot be dug up by pests (birds, rodents or insects). The weight, density and composition of your soil also affects the depth e.g. sandy soils dry quickly, dense wet soils are colder and have less oxygen, • Watering instructions for establishment and ongoing care • A seed count, the number of seeds in the packet, • A germination percentage – what is the average ration of plants germinating from seeds • A best before, use by or expiry date for using the seeds. A quick, easy and accurate method of sowing is to use a series of string lines, measure and mark the specific distance, for each row on the line and between rows (if you’re planting more than one type of seed per row) and use a “dibber” or a stick marked with various seed depths. Once the holes are created, pop in your seeds, gently cover with soil, mulch and lightly water. Propagating seedlings – systems For numerous reasons (limited growing season, climate or your wish to maximise production by staggering plantings) you may wish to buy vegetable seedlings or raise your seeds as seedlings and then transplant them to you beds. There are varying ways to do this depending on your ecological philosophy, budget, climate and gardening expertise. Seeds can be sown into a moistened commercially available or homemade seed raising mix which has been placed into individual containers (plastic seed tubes, peat pots, recycled newspaper pots, toilet rolls, and egg shells) or a larger plastic pre-moulded or flat tray container. Seeds in undivided flats should be sown at least 5cm (2 inches) apart to prevent root entanglement and ensure each seedling doesn’t have to compete with the others to absorb moisture and nutrients. Some people find it easier to sprinkle seeds from the packet, some use a teaspoon or if you want to be meticulous a seed dial. I’ve found that a paddle-pop/popsicle stick (available in bulk bags at craft stores) is the perfect tool to use to create planting lines or holes and cover seeds, with the added bonus that it can also be used as a simple seedling label. The same planting prerequisites when planting directly to the garden apply here, except the containers will be kept in an environment where the light, temperature, moisture and environmental exposure can be controlled until the
seedling is ready to be transplanted. A few years ago we purchased an “All in one propagation kit” from the Diggers Club which I’ve used successfully for a number of seasons. If you don’t have a warm area you can keep your seedlings (indoor window, greenhouse or cold frame) then I would recommend purchasing/making a heating tray.
From left: Indoor seed propagating materials - moulded peat pots, coir expandable jiffy pots (Photo by Ilovebutter under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0), A clear lidded storage box used for propagating seedlings, a DIY greenhouse/cold frame made from PVC piping and plastic sheeting, DIY self- watering propagation kit. Planting seedlings Flats - If you have grown your seedlings in flats then the best time to move them to containers is when they have grown their second set of leaves. Using a paddle-pop/popsicle stick gently grasp the seedling by the leaves and whilst slowly pulling upwards use the stick to loosen the mix around it. Separate any seedlings whose roots have meshed. Sort the seedlings that you have removed. If available make or choose a biodegradable container that can be planted directly into the garden such as peat or handmade paper pots. Fill your containers with seed raising mix and use your stick to create a small hole in the centre of the pot, the seedling should sit at the same depth as it was previously planted. Gently push the mixture back into place around the seedling and water. The seedlings will need a short period to adjust to their new settings, so avoid extreme heat/cold and keep moist, do not over water. If your seed mix does not contain any composts or fertiliser then give them a feed of Seasol/organic liquid fertiliser about 7-10 days after transplanting them. About 2-3 weeks prior to when you intend to move the seedlings to your garden bed you will need to expose them to your climate. As mentioned previously this process is called “hardening off” and its intent is to minimise the shock of transplant. For a few hours each day move your containers to a shaded, protected place in your garden, on a verandah or a balcony. Do not put them out if the climate is extreme. Gradually increase the hours of exposure each week and reduce (do not stop) the frequency and amount of water. The best time to transplant your seedlings to the garden is on an overcast day. Ensure the soil is prepared and moist, water the seedlings in their pots. If your seedlings are in plastic pots remove them by gently rolling the pot between your hands, then with the stem of the seedling between your middle fingers, place a closed hand over the top of the pot and tip it upside down. You should be able to slip the pot upwards and off the root ball. If the seedlings roots are “girdled” (circling inward and downwards), gently spread them by placing your hands under the root ball and working them outward from the centre of the plant. If you’re using biodegradable peat or paper pots cut or tear the sides to ensure the roots are able to spread. Check the spacing for the different seedlings and using a hand shovel, dig a hole twice the width of the pot or root ball. Gently push the soil around the base of each seedling ensuring each plant is level with the soil and the root ball is fully covered. Use your hands to lightly create a shallow basin around each seedling. Mulch the bed with a nurturing mulch (see Appendix B - Different mulches) and water the bed well. Monitor the moisture in the bed on a daily basis. Depending on the climate you may need to shade the seedlings and water as required until the plants have established a mature root system.
From left: veggie markers made from bamboo skewers and corks, rocks, old spoons – flattened and dipped in blackboard paint, polymer clay and rubber stamps, sticks shaved/whittled with a vegetable peeler
Cold frames As mentioned in the previous sections, in some climates the optimal planting/growing season can be short and either bookended or dominated by extreme temperatures. In addition some seeds need to be exposed to heat/cold extremes to start to germinate. Therefore in order to maximise the vegetables produced, shelter developing plants, and create controlled micro climates, it is beneficial for some gardeners to use cold frames. A cold frame is a simple structure that utilizes solar energy and insulation to create a microclimate within your garden. To do this it allows solar energy to pass through its transparent/translucent covering and heat it and the ground beneath. To ensure the right climatic conditions are maintained you will need to monitor and control the temperature, sunlight, moisture, and wind exposure. To this end, hanging a cheap outdoor thermometer inside the frame is an easy way to keep an eye on changes. If the frame gets too hot or cold you can cover it with an old blanket or tarpaulin to prevent heat entering or escaping. On a daily basis monitor the moisture within the frame, water and vent (open the frame to release wet moist air) when required to prevent damping off effecting the seedlings. Because darker colours absorb heat more easily there are a number of simple ways to maximise the heat captured, this can be done simply and cheaply by using water filled containers painted with a matt black paint. You can use recycled containers with lids e.g. milk jugs, flat stones or “solar pillows” (used freezer bags painted black and filled with water). Other ways to heat your cold frame naturally include digging a 30cm (12”) deep hole inside the frame and filling it with fresh horse/cow/goat manure mixed with straw and topping it with 15cm (6“) of soil mixture. As the manure decomposes, it releases heat into the frame. Another option, if you have created a frame with hay bales, is to wet the bales after they have been put in place. As the wet hay decomposes, much of the heat it releases will stay inside the frame and the decomposing hay will provide nutrients to the soil. A cold frame can be homemade or purchased as a commercially manufactured unit. Cold frames can take a number of forms. A sunken cold frame can be created by excavating an area within your garden and building walls with remanent besser/cinderblocks or hay bales and a transparent covering made with old windows, doors, transparent sheeting or rigid transparent plastic tarpaulins. A plastic hoop tunnel cold frame can be attached to existing raised beds by the addition of brackets, PVC piping and transparent plastic or tarpaulins. A portable cold frame can be built with remanent wood and transparent plastic. These are useful if you intend to plant crops sequentially and intend to move it when your seedlings have hardened off. Examples of each type and links to specific DIY projects can be found below another excellent resource is the Cold frame manual, produced by Got Dirt? Garden Initiative. Your cold frame should face north in the southern hemisphere and south in the northern hemisphere for the maximum sunlight exposure. Frames work best if the top is angled slightly toward the sun. You can either build or cut angled sides on your frame or place soil underneath the rear of a timber frame. Don’t forget that it should also be placed or built in a way that facilitates drainage, i.e. on a slope or in an area that has a permeable surface beneath it. Some of the best vegetables to grow in cold frames include - broccoli, beets, cabbage, chard, green onions, kale, lettuce, radishes, spinach, “baby” or dwarf varieties of carrots
From left: small portable DIY greenhouses, DIY hoop greenhouse, commercially made raised bed hoop house made of plywood and corrugated polycarbonate plastic, DIY geodetic greenhouse, DIY cold frame Nurturing As mentioned in Soil and Pre-planting preparation sections the best way to ensure that your plants are nurtured is to ensure they have sufficient moisture and that the soil they have been sown or transplanted into has all the essential vitamins and minerals they will require to establish themselves and flourish, a bit like what you do for the children in your care.
During their growth they will require a mulch covering to assist in the retention of moisture in the soil, protect their roots systems, suppress competing weed growth and provide additional nutrients as it decomposes. During flowering and fruiting they may also require a potassium rich organic fertiliser which can be applied by raking back the mulch and digging/watering it into the soil of the root zone or diluting it in water and spraying it on to the plant leaves. Your plants will also require a continued monitoring for pests and Weeding, Pruning and Mulching as required. Composting Compost is organic matter that has been broken down by aerobic/anaerobic chemical processes to form a material that can be utilised as an organic fertilizer, a soil conditioner and as a natural pesticide. So where can I get this marvellously rich organic fertiliser and practice the life saving art of recycling at the same time? You already have the components at your disposal for free. Garden waste, food waste, grass cuttings, shredded paper, water, air and micro/ macro organisms. All you need to do is put them together in the right ratio and tend them occasionally until they’re ready for use. Whether and how you choose to self- compost depends on a number of factors – your climate, space available, the size of your garden, the effort that you wish to invest, person-power available and inevitably money. If you have a small garden then it may be more effective for you to purchase pre-composted material to add to your garden. If your growing season is minimal and you have nowhere external to set up a compost site then anaerobic Bokashi composting may be suited to you. If you have suitable space, materials and time then hot/cold composting or vermicomposting may be more appropriate for you. Each system is detailed below with a number of links to DIY composting projects or information sites accessible from the picture hyperlinks.
From left: Cold Composting – In ground wire mesh holding bin, build your own compost turning bins, two versions of a DIY plastic tumbling system, a plastic holding system, Hot composting – a constructed hot composting heap. Cold Composting Cold composting is an aerobic chemical procedure that involves the layering of carbon and nitrogen rich materials and the addition of water and air in a carefully supervised process. A very simple and informative document detailing the process can be found here. Although a number of composters advocate utilising a purchased plastic compost bin you can make your bin simply and cheaply with recycled materials (see below). Usually the turn over (no pun intended) for transition of food materials to compost is approximately three months. Hot composting Hot composting is an aerobic process of fast oxidation which breaks raw organic materials into compost at temperatures of up to 80°C (176° F) within three weeks. It is performed by a particular type of bacteria that works best at high temperatures, with good availability of oxygen and a decent level of moisture. “It has the benefits of killing weed seeds and pathogens (diseases), and breaking down the material into very fine compost. All manner of things, including strange additions such as wool and cotton clothing, bones, leather boots, even things like “roadkill”, i.e. dead animals, but these have to go in the very centre of the heap to break down properly.” xvi This method is quicker than cold composting and produces a greater amount of nutrient rich compost, but does require a greater level of activity and space. The Deep Green Permaculture site provides an exceptionally detailed, yet simple explanation of the “Berkeley method” of hot composting, including the specifics of the process, materials involved and an illustrated day by day “how to”. Highly recommended to anyone wishing to attempt this type of organic recycling.
Vermicomposting "It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures." Charles Darwin 1881 “Worms are the Intestines of the Earth”, Aristotle Vermicompost is the production of compost utilizing various species of worms to create an organic mixture of vermicast (worm castings or worm manure) and decomposed food matter. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner full of water-soluble nutrients that are easy for plants to absorb. Whilst you may need to purchase worms to stock your “worm farm” you can choose to home them in a premoulded plastic container or to build your own. See the link below that details how to build your own “wormery”. The Western Australian Earth Carers site also has a fantastically document detailing all you need to know about creating and caring for a wormery. Remember - worms like a moderate temperature and eat more when they are warmer. They can be kept inside or out, but will benefit from being indoors in the winter. Bokashi composting Bokashi is a Japanese term that means “fermented organic matter”. Bokashi has traditionally been used to increase the microbial diversity and activity in soils and to supply nutrients to plants. Bokashi composting is an anaerobic (no oxygen) process, using a combination of wheat bran and rice husks that have been infused with effective microorganisms, which allows you a greater scope in the food products you recycle. The Bokashi system is an airtight container system that allows the process to occur indoors (usually in your kitchen) without worry about smells of putrefaction and decay. As distinct from the other forms of composting Bokashi allows you to use cooked and uncooked meats and fish, cheese and eggs. To start, place your kitchen waste into the bucket, then sprinkle a hand full of Bokashi mixture over the waste. Replace the lid. Repeat this layering process until the Bokashi bucket is full. Drain off liquid (Bokashi juice) as necessary, the juice can be diluted with water and makes a terrific fertiliser for garden or pot plants. Once the Bokashi bucket is full to capacity, the waste can be buried. Dig a hole or trench approximately 20-25 cms (8-9”) deep. Add your Bokashi waste and mix in some soil, cover with remaining soil. Bokashi waste can be added to a conventional compost bin. Bokashi compost will look different to other compost that has decayed. As the food waste does not breakdown or decompose while it is in the bucket, much of its original physical property will remain and it will have a pickled appearance. Burying Bokashi waste in the soil will supply the plants with a nourishing food source and condition your soil with enriching microbes. The micro-organisms in the Bokashi mixture significantly accelerate the composting process.
From left: How to create a wormery, a video on how to create your own vermicompost tea, the Bokashi composting system, a DIY combination system - Bokashi and worms. Garden maintenance Weeding Weeds by definition are any growth within your vegetable garden (plot, container, pot or bag) that inhibit or compete with the plants you intend to grow. Most weeds can be eliminated by hot composting to destroy remanent seeds, choosing a quality bagged growing medium/additives or utilising a mulch cover on your garden. If you’re using a mulch cover, most weeds being green, will starkly contrast and can be easily removed by hand before they have a chance to establish themselves.
To control weeds in your garden beds; • If you intend to create an in ground bed, make certain all prior vegetation (especially grasses) are dead and that the area has a border that will adequately repel stoloniferous creepers, • Cover empty garden beds, this reduces the possibility of weed growth, • It is impossible to ensure that weed seeds do not end up in your garden bed, however regularly scanning your beds means they can be removed before they establish, • When you remove weeds ensure that all the root system, especially weeds with taproots, is removed. If the weed is positioned close to an established plant, ensure the removal does not affect that plants root system, • It is preferable not to use commercial herbicides in the control of weeds in garden beds. Beyond the potential of herbicide toxicity being transferred to surrounding plants through the water in the soil, there is always the possibility of overspray during application. A small amount of spray is sufficient to kill any plant it lands on. Pruning There are three primary purposes to pruning vegetables to direct their growth, to remove damaged or diseased growth or influence the quantity or quality of fruit. Pruning can be accomplished by “pinching”, where new growth or buds are removed by grasping them between your fingers and squeezing, scissoring the fingernails together or by using garden implements on more woody growth. Pruning can be used; • Where a vegetable is indeterminate (See Tomatoes and Vegetable support) and you wish to restrict its growth by taking out the “apical leader” (the primary shoot at the apex of the plant) • Where you wish to train or espalier vegetables against a wall or barrier, • Where you wish to encourage the quality and quantity of earlier fruit by removing subsequent buddings, • Where you wish to remove dead or damaged foliage or remove diseased leaves on foliage to prevent the spread of disease to the rest of the plant, • Where you wish to “open up” the airflow through a plant to discourage fungal diseases, • Where you wish to encourage new growth by removing foliage that has died back or failed to thrive. Remember to ensure that any pruning instruments you use are sharp and disinfected between plants (you can use a simple sterilising compound like isopropyl alcohol) and that diseased foliage that is removed is not placed in your compost pile. Pest and diseases control There are a number of commercially available traps and sprays available for you to use in the control of pests and diseases in your garden. The problem with a number of these is they act in the same manner as antibiotics and kill all insects and micro organisms whether they are beneficial or harmful. Your primary pest and disease control is and will always be to purchase disease resistant varieties of seeds and seedling and to maintain a healthy, free draining soil that has the appropriate levels of nutrients that your plants can use in their self defence. Just as important is the use of crop rotation, companion plantings and plantings that attract beneficial animal and insect predators. The items detailed below are safe for adults, children, pets and wildlife and can be used in addition to those very important elements listed above. It would be considered best practice to advise all parents prior to the use of any compound, regardless of whether it’s organic, by the distribution of an advisory notice (see Appendix E) prior to its use. Insect traps • Paper- usually a paper or cardboard strip, square or box with a surface sprayed with pheromones (targeting specific insects) and adhesive, • Plastic - usually a plastic container filled with a pheromone (targeting specific insects) that traps and kills insects once they are lured into it. Insect Sprays • Sprays made from organic compounds (e.g. neem, citrus or orange oils) can be used to treat the surface of your plant so that it is repellent to insects, • Sprays made from espresso coffee, diatomaceous earth, cloves, oils (non-GM canola/vegetable), soaps, Allium compounds (chives/onions/garlic), chilli, citrus or orange oils can be used to kill insects, • Sprays that contain a bacterium (e.g. Dipel, Thuricide) once ingested by an insect kills them.
Insect repelling/terminating compounds If sprinkled around the base of your plants these will usually repel ground travelling insects – wood ash, dolomitic limestone, molasses, hydrated Lime, bone meal and egg shells and Rotenone dust. Adhesive copper tape used around the perimeter of your garden bed or container is also effective. Organic fungal sprays – can be made from Potassium permanganate, copper derivatives (copper oxychloride, cupric hydroxide), neem oil, milk/detergent, sulphur, copper, potassium bicarbonate, seaweed and apple cider vinegar. Organic fungal compounds – creating teas from or dusting affected leaves and stems with corn meal can reduce and kill fungal outbreaks. Mulching As previously mentioned mulch is an essential component in gardens. Beyond serving an aesthetic function it stops soil from being blown/washed away, helps lessen soil borne fungal diseases reaching plants, provides border delineation, weed suppression, stabilises soil temperature, ensures moisture retention and as it breaks down it nurtures the soil. Apply mulch twice a year, preferably in autumn and spring. Different mulches are used for differing purposes and in different situations. Woodchip fines can be used on garden beds, however may blow away if the chips are too small and may wash away if placed on a sloping bed where there is not adequate drainage or areas that are prone to standing water or heavy surface runoff during heavy rainfall. It is a common practice to add mulching materials above bed level in garden beds. Without a defined edge, the mulch will spread from the bed onto lawns or pathways creating hazards. On a daily basis check that the garden edging has not come loose from its anchor points. If it has, exclude children from the area until it can be refastened. Mulch can be easily raked back into position with a light plastic rake. You may wish to purchase child sized gardening utensils so that they can help you xvii. Try to avoid using blowers to clear lawns and pathways, unless you are familiar and competent in their use, otherwise you will end up with a greater mess than you started with. “Nurturing” mulches such as sugar cane mulch, tea tree mulch, lucerne and pea straw contain a variety of products usually derived from plants. Nurturing mulches decompose in the landscape at different rates depending on the material and climate. Those that decompose faster must be replenished more often. Because the decomposition process improves soil quality and fertility, it is more beneficial to use them in vegetable gardens, despite the added maintenance. Before reapplying mulch to a garden bed, remove all weeds by hand, this is also the best time to add a fertiliser or compost. Always apply mulch over moist soil and wet the laid mulch to settle it in. Avoid placing mulch in contact with plant stems, where it can encourage disease. Fine mulch needs to be replenished more frequently and should be raked every two months to avoid compaction. As organic mulch decomposes, it can draw nitrogen from the soil. Watch your plants for signs of nitrogen deﬁciency (usually some yellowing of the lower leaves), and use a nitrogenrich fertiliser if needed.
From left: Nurturing” mulches improve soil quality and fertility, Without a defined garden edge and level beds mulch may be moved by the wind and rain, The right mulch serves multiple purposes Fertilisers The word fertiliser carries the root word (no pun intended) which defines what fertilisers do, fertilis means “to make abundant”. A properly prepared garden bed (see sections on Soil, Pre-planting preparation and Nurturing) contains all the nourishment a vegetable crop will need to grow to fruition. However, depending on a number of factors including, moisture, climate, soil pH and the type of vegetables you are growing, you may need supplementary infusions of “food matter” aka fertiliser.
You can choose to create your own fertiliser in the form of composted organic matter (vermi/compost, animal and green manures, blood/bone mixes) or buy pre-prepared chemical based preparations. Regardless of which you choose they will contain varying levels of Macro (N.P.K.) and Micro nutrients. Nitrogen (N) encourages green leafy growth, Potassium (P) promotes flowering and Phosphorus (K) encourages root growth. So, if you want to grow a leafy vegetable they will require phosphorus to form a root system to take up nutrients and water and nitrogen to help develop the leaves. If you want to grow a fruiting plant they will require phosphorus to form a root system, nitrogen to create leaves to photosynthesise and potassium to encourage the flowers to make the fruit. Types of fertilisers Slow release chemical fertilisers – These preparations are usually specific for different plant types (fruit, vegetables, native plants) and are synthesised into layers and coatings so they will break down over a period, leaching their contents into the soil. Apply them when and as directed by the manufacturer. Animal manure – is vegetation that has been pre-processed through living two/four-legged chemical factories. Depending on what the animals have been fed the nutritional value may vary. All fresh manure should be composted for 6-8 weeks prior to spreading it on your garden. Usually packaged manures have been composted and can be applied directly to your garden. If in doubt about application or safety procedures read and adhere to the suppliers directions. Blood and bone mixes – Are created from ground bone and dried blood and are rich in nitrogen, for good leaf growth and phosphorus, for root development, Fish fertilisers –contain high levels of nitrogen and soluble potassium and phosphorus, Seaweed concentrates – are regarded by some as a tonic rather than a fertiliser. Seaweed stimulates the strengthening of plant cell walls. Seaweed has lower rates of NPK but is exceptionally high in micronutrients and trace elements. You can make your own seaweed concentrate but the commercially manufactured version is easily available, highly concentrated and pricewise only costs a few cents per watering can mix.
Manner of Application
Broadcasting – is the term applied to the manual spreading of fertiliser by hand around the root zone of your crop. Ideally you should rake back any mulch and water the soil before distribution. Water the area once again after the mulch is replaced. If you’re using a commercially produced fertiliser ensure that it is spread as directed by the manufacturer Compost tea – is the product of mixing organic fertiliser and water together. You can use a single fertiliser (e.g. sheep manure) or mix a number together (e.g. manures, blood and bone and seaweed concentrate). “Tea” is best brewed in a large lidded bucket, some people use a hessian or plastic sack to hold the constituent components, and this also makes it easy to remove them. Brew your tea for approximately a week before removing the sack and mixing the liquid in a 1:6 ratio with water before pouring it onto your garden. Re-administer every 3- 4 weeks. Liquid fertilisers are “taken up” more easily by your plants’ root system; however they are leached from the soil just as quickly. Foliar sprays – are a manner of feeding your plants by applying a liquid fertiliser directly to their leaves, where they are absorbed into the plant. The best time to foliar feed is late evening to early morning. These are the times when the stomata (the small opening on the leaves) are open. Ensure the fertiliser you’ve chosen is thoroughly mixed in water (to avoid your fertiliser burning the leaves your solution should be no more than 1/3 rd of the manufactures recommended level) - apply in a fine mist to both sides of the leaves. Foliar solutions can be applied with the aid of a clean recycled spray bottle. To increase effectiveness it is recommended to use a surfactant to help the nutrients stick to the leaf and to penetrate the waxy cuticle of the leaf.
Vegetables The vegetables listed below have been chosen because they are easy to grow (in all types of beds and containers), have a variety of colours, smells, textures and tastes, represent value for money in respect to sowing and fruition, do not require specialised care or climate and are fairly hardy. Not every seed or seedling you plant will grow, that’s just part of the trial and error and problem solving process of gardening. However, these plants, if grown in accordance with the information in previous chapters, should guarantee you a high success rate. This in turn should promote and maintain levels of motivation in children participating. An added bonus of children growing their own vegetables is, because they’re home-grown they will taste better than the mass produced, artificially grown varieties you purchase commercially. Being able to really taste the product of their efforts is the most important part of the whole process. NOTE: Some of these vegetables will thrive better in specialised climates (e.g. spinach, leeks and kale have been reported to grow larger and taste better in colder climates). It’s a good idea to check with nurseries, gardeners or gardening forums in your local area as to what varieties are more successfully grown in your climate. If you’re able and willing to experiment, what better way to extend the gardening experience (and hopefully palate) than availing yourself of exotic vegetables. In this sense I mean vegetables, not indigenous to your locale, that are grown in other parts of the world, with a climate similar to your own. A bit closer to home it may also mean vegetables that are utilised by other cultures in their cuisines. Examples for where I live could be Warrigal greens/New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides), Red asparagus/noodle beans (Vigna unguiculata var. sesquipedalis) or Chinese mustard greens (Brassica juncea). Killer tomatoes and poisonous potatoes Unfortunately there is currently a controversy in certain circles over whether tomatoes should be grown in educational institutions. The concern is based on the idea that because they are members of the Solanaceae family (which includes Nightshade) they present a danger to children. I could provide an additional appendix detailing all the scientific information supporting a contrary argument; however the links below provide a rational and detailed explanation of the subject. If after reading them your still feel wary about growing tomatoes – DON’T GROW THEM. • Science based medicine- Killer tomatoes or poisonous potatoes ? • Go ahead eat those tomato leaves • Poison plants of the North Carolinas – Tomatoes A postscript from the last site reads - 10/26/2010 According to Dr. Anna Dulaney, Clinical Toxicologist and Assistant Director of Education for the Carolinas Poison Center, since their database began in 1997 there has been only one reference to a child having a reaction related to consuming tomato leaves or stems. In that instance, the child made and consumed a "Pie" consisting of cedar wood chips, grass clippings, tomato leaves and various other items. That child vomited, but due to the large number of ingredients in the mixture, it is impossible to attribute the upset stomach to the consumption of tomato leaves. She noted that in their database, the largest number of tomato leaves consumed at one time was 5 or 6 and that there were no ill effects. (This footnote inserted by Dr. Lucy Bradley, NC State Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist 10/26/2010) Key terms Hardy annual – A plant that lives for up to a year and can withstand severe climatic conditions (e.g. frosts) Tender annual - A plant that lives for up to a year and can be damaged by severe climatic conditions (e.g. frosts) Hardy Biennial - A plant that lives for up to two years and can withstand severe climatic conditions (e.g. frosts) Biennials grow only leaves in the first season, fruiting in their second season. Once it has fruited and set seed, it usually dies back. Hardy Perennial - A plant that lives for more than 3 years and can withstand severe climatic conditions (e.g. frosts). Tender Perennial - A plant that lives for more than 3 years and can be damaged by severe climatic conditions (e.g. frosts). These are plants that are considered perennial in warm climates, but are “annual” in cold climates, or may be overwintered indoors. Watering key: 1 drip - Drought tolerant once established (below 500mm rainfall) 2 drips - Seasonal watering as required 3 Drips - Thirsty plant (above 850mm rainfall)
Seasons: In this guide I have used the terms Autumn (Fall), Winter, Spring and Summer to denote the four planting periods for the vegetables listed below; • In Australia which sits astride the Tropic of Capricorn these seasons commence on the 1st day of March, June, September and December, respectively, • In areas of the Northern hemisphere which are nearer the Tropic of Cancer, Autumn begins between 3 August and 10 August, Winter between 5 November and 10 November, Spring between 2 February and 7 February and Summer between 4 May and 10 May, • In some Equatorial areas, because of the distinct weather patterns, some cultures recognise six seasons, Autumn (mid-October), Pre-hibernal (mid-December), Winter (mid-February), Spring (mid-April), Summer (midJune) and Monsoon (mid-August). Growing vegetables (in alphabetical order) ARTICHOKES (Globe) - Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus (Asteraceae) Artichokes are a perennial vegetable and would usually be planted outside the beds you are rotating. The globe artichoke is a member of the Asteraceae family (which also includes thistles and daisies). It is also known as the French artichoke and the crown artichoke, but is not related to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is actually a tuber. Varieties- Green Globe, Purple Globe, Deep purple Romagna Violet, Purple-tinged Romanesco and the new Dwarf Perpetual. Artichokes can be grown from seeds but tubers/suckers are faster and more reliable. The best spot to plant artichokes is in a sheltered, sunny part of the garden, your soil should be free draining, loams or sandy loams are best. Soil should be loosened and prepared with well-rotted manure and compost and have a neutral pH. Until they are established keep your plants mulched and well watered, once they are mature they are fairly resilient. Your artichokes are a perennial vegetable and will grow and flower for approximately six years. After you harvest, once the leaves yellow, cut the plant back to 30cms (12”)above the ground and mulch heavily to protect the roots from the cold. Height x Spacing: 160cm x 100cm Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 25 Plant Type: Perennial
Pests & Diseases – Two-spotted mites, snails, slugs, root node nematodes, black flies, aphids (black bean aphid, leaf-curling plum aphid and the thistle aphid) and mites – control using traps and a seaweed, oil or soap based spray. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Crown rot, verticillium and fusarium wilt disease can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Powdery mildew and cucumber mosaic virus can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting When growing artichokes expect them to take between 3 to 4 months to reach maturity. Harvest when the buds reach full size (anywhere from 5-10cm (2-4’) in diameter) but before the bud leaves begin to open. Cut the bud about 5cm (2”) below the stem. BEANS - Phaseolus vulgaris (Fabaceae alternately Leguminosae)
Beans will grow in most soil types; they prefer a sheltered, sunny spot with warm soil (pH 6.0 to 6.5) and good drainage. Plant every two to four weeks to obtain a succession of harvesting periods. Depending on the season, beans will emerge in 5 to 14 days. Ideally beans should be grown in rotation with other vegetables e.g. beans follow root vegetables such as onions and carrots, and are followed by tomatoes. Beans seeds can be are planted directly into the garden bed or can be planted into containers initially if you reside in an area that is prone to late/early frosts. Beans have shallow roots and need continuous moisture to create a good harvest, and if moisture is lacking during the growing period their flowers will fail to set. Mulching with compost will encourage water retention and protect the shallow root system. Guard against overwatering after planting as this can result in excessive vegetative growth. Likewise do not initially over-fertilise seedlings as they will put all their efforts in to
vegetative growth and delay flowering. Wait until they have started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid fertilizer at least once a fortnight. Do not mulch up against the plants base as this will cause it to rot. Regardless of the type of bean you have planted additional support is required to support the plant in the soil and to prevent damage by wind. They can be supported by use of wood, wire or plastic mesh or trellis, plastic string or gardeners twine, wooden, bamboo or plastic poles or pipe. An alternative is companion plantings of corn were the beans are planted after the corn has established and the beans climb up the corn stalks. After the last of the crop has been harvested cut the plants stem at ground level and leave the roots in the ground – the roots will continue to produce nitrogen as they break down (which is great for your soil). Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Red and two-spotted mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, black flies, bean fly, cutworm, thrips whitefly, leaf hoppers, aphids (black bean aphid, leaf-curling plum aphid and the thistle aphid) – control using traps and a seaweed, oil or soap based spray. Cutworms and caterpillars can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Mexican bean beetle can be controlled using pyrethrum or citrus, orange or neem oils. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Anthracnose, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Powdery mildew, white mould, rust and bean mosaic virus can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvest beans when there's a slight bulge to the seed. If it becomes to firm the bean will be tough and the pod will be stringy (this is because the pods become fibrous as the beans mature). Continually harvest your beans every 4 to 5 days. Beans can be stored for about 1 week in plastic bags in the refrigerator, freeze any excess. BEETROOT - Beta vulgaris (Chenopodiaceae)
Plant your beetroot in a sunny position, in a fertile, free-draining soil with a neutral pH. Ensure for the duration of planting the soil remains moist, lack of water can reduce the growth rate and the roots can become woody and inedible or crack and fork. Do not over fertilise as this can cause too much leafy growth. It is preferable to use an organic liquid plant tonic instead of fresh manure which can cause abnormal root growth. Soak seeds in water 24 hours before planting so that you can separate the seeds, each seed cluster actually contains 1-3 seeds, alternately plant the seed balls and thin out the weakest seedlings. Thinning gives room for the beetroots to develop properly. Depending on your climate and the variety the seeds should emerge in approximately 15 days. Mulch seedlings well to control weeds competition and provide ongoing nutrition. For continued harvesting consider sowing small crops every 3-4 weeks. Height x Spacing: 30cms (12”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring-Summer Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 8 Plant Type: Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Beet webworms, vegetable weevils, mangold flies (Beet leaf miner), swift moth, snails, slugs, sugar beet cyst or root-knot nematodes, black bean aphid – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Cercospora leaf spot and black root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting You can usually tell when your beets are ready to harvest by the roots protruding above the soil. If you have sown your beets from seed, harvesting can begin around ten weeks. Otherwise you can commence when the bulbs are
about 2.5cm (1”) in diameter. Continue to harvest every 4-5 days until beets are about 10cm (4”) in diameter; at this point harvest them all and store them. If you allow them to grow any further they will lose their flavour and their texture will roughen. As with most root crops the quickest and easiest way to harvest is to gently push a hand shovel into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then whilst pulling upward on the stalks lever the root up and out of the soil. BROCCOLI - Brassica oleracea Var. italica (Brassicaceae)
Plant your broccoli seeds or seedlings in an area that is sunny or partially shaded. Soil should be free draining with a pH between 6 and 7. For continued harvesting consider sowing small crops every 3-4 weeks. Ensure seedlings are well watered and mulched. To stop broccoli bolting to seed and becoming inedible keep well-watered and continually feed the plants with compost tea made with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Continuously harvest the stems and subsequent side shoots. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases –snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips, aphids, snails and slugs, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Army worms, cabbageworms, cabbage loopers, harlequin cabbage bugs and grasshoppers can controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Cabbage Root Fly, cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Club Root can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil, purchasing resistant varieties and rotating your Brassica crops once every three years. The incidence of Clubroot can be diminished by raising your soil pH to 7 See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvest broccoli florets whilst they are still tight and of good green colour and before any small yellow flowers appear. By continuously harvesting the florets before they flower you can increase the yield. Another method is to cut the main head on each plant; this will ensure more side shoots develop. Broccoli can be stored for about 1 week in plastic bags in the refrigerator, freeze any excess. BRUSSELS SPROUTS - Brassica oleracea Var. gemmifera (Brassicaceae)
Brussels sprouts can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Brussels sprouts prefer a well drained soil in a full sun position with a pH of about 6.0 to 7.0. Sprouts need a longer growing season than most vegetables and taste best when they are exposed to cooler weather as they mature. Ensure your sprouts are evenly spaced to avoid overcrowding as this will cause your sprout seedlings to develop into frail and leggy plants. Once the plants have matured you may want to consider staking them to avoid uprooting of the plants due to wind and or weight of the fruit. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and continually feed the plants with compost tea made with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases –snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips, aphids, snails and slugs, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Cabbageworms, cabbage white butterfly, whitefly, cabbage loopers, harlequin cabbage bugs can controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Cabbage Root Fly, cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Club Root, Blackleg and Black rot can be avoided by
ensuring clean, free draining soil, purchasing resistant varieties and rotating your Brassica crops once every three years. The incidence of Clubroot can be diminished by raising your soil pH to 7. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Brussels sprouts begin to form and mature at the base of the stem of the plant. This process continues upward. Harvest the sprouts, by twisting them off or cutting them, when they are about 5cms (2”) in diameter, firm and green. Continue to harvest every 4-5 days. Harvest all sprouts before the lower leaves of the plant yellow. Sprouts can be stored for about 1 week in plastic bags in the refrigerator, freeze any excess. CABBAGES - Brassica oleracea Var. capitata (Brassicaceae)
Cabbages can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Cabbages prefer a well drained soil in a full sun position with a pH of about 6.0–7.0. Cabbages need a longer growing season than most vegetables and taste best when they are exposed to cooler weather as they mature. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and continually feed the plants with compost tea made with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases –Bird can be controlled using netting. Snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips, aphids, snails and slugs, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Cabbageworms, cabbage white butterfly, whitefly, cabbage loopers, harlequin cabbage bugs can controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Cabbage Root Fly, cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Club Root, rhizoctonia & sclerotini root rot, turnip mosaic virus, blackleg and black rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil, purchasing resistant varieties and rotating your Brassica crops once every three years. The incidence of Clubroot can be diminished by raising your soil pH to 7. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting To determine whether to harvest cabbages, squeeze them gently, if the heads feel solid it’s time. They should be at least 25cm (10”) before you cut them. Use a knife to cut them about 2.5cm (1”) from the base, removing any loose outer leaves. If the cabbage is not harvested when it’s mature it will continue to grow and split open, inviting pests. Cabbages can be stored for about 2 weeks in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. CAPSICUMS (PEPPERS) - Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae) Capsicums require a sunny spot in a free draining soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.5. Capsicums can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Ensure your capsicums are evenly spaced to avoid overcrowding as this will cause your sprout seedlings to develop smaller fruit. Once the plants have developed fruit you may want to consider staking them to avoid the plants become uprooted. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed weekly with compost tea made with a seaweed extract. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Regular harvesting will ensure a succession of fruits Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, aphids – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp
meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Sclerotinia, fusarium and rhizoctonia root rot and Tomato Spotted Wilt and Tobacco Mosaic viruses can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. Flower and fruit drop can be avoided by maintaining uniform moisture levels in the growing medium. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Capsicums are sweeter if you allow them to fully colour. Harvest them when they are firm, coloured, and full sized. For long capsicums this is approximately 10cm (4”) in length, for bell capsicums this is approximately 10cm (4”) in length and 5cm (2”) wide. Cut the capsicums from the plant with sharp scissors/secateurs as they mature. Removal will encourage others to colour up. Capsicums can be stored for 2 to 3 weeks in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. CARROTS - Daucus carota subsp. Sativus (Apiaceae)
Plant your carrots in a sunny position, in a loose, fertile, stone free, free-draining soil with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. Ensure for the duration of planting the soil remains moist, lack of water can reduce the growth rate and the roots can become woody and inedible or crack and fork. Do not over fertilise as this can cause too much leafy growth. It is preferable to use an organic liquid plant fertiliser like compost tea made with wood ash (Potassium), to assist with root growth as composted manure can cause abnormal root growth. Thinning gives room for the carrots to develop properly. Depending on your climate and the variety the seeds should emerge in approximately 14-21 days. Mulching seedlings will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system, provide ongoing nutrition and also keep any weeds under control. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Snails, Slugs, Thrips, Carrot willow aphids, Carrot rust fly, Leafhoppers – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Carrot fly and Carrot weevils can be controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Parsnip canker, Alternaria and Cercospor leaf spot, Sclerotinia root rot, Cavity spot disease and Violet root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil, purchasing resistant varieties and rotating your carrots once every three years. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Like other root vegetables you can usually tell when carrots are ready to be harvested by the size of the top of the root. They are usually ready to be removed when the roots are approximately 2.5 – 5cms (1-2”) in diameter. Carrots can be “strange” sometimes. Although they should lengthen as they increase in diameter, sometimes they don’t. The only way to know for sure is to dig one up and have a look. To store freshly harvested carrots, twist or cut off the tops, remove any dirt with water, then let them dry and place them in an airtight container or “ziplock” type bag and refrigerate. If you just place them in the refrigerator they'll go flaccid very quickly. CAULIFLOWERS - Brassica oleracea Var. Botrytis (Brassicaceae)
Cauliflower can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Cabbages prefer a well drained soil in a full sun position with a pH of about 6.0 – 7.0. Cauliflowers need a longer growing season than most vegetables and taste best when they are exposed to cooler weather as they mature. Ensure your Cauliflower are evenly spaced to avoid overcrowding as this will cause your sprout seedlings to develop into frail and leggy plants. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and continually feed the plants with compost tea or foliar spray made with a potash and manure rich fertiliser. Cauliflowers also require a constant supply of nitrogen. This is best fed to the plants with compost tea made with an organic nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Wrap the leaves (curds) over the developing heads to prevent sunburn.
Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Snails, caterpillars, slugs, bean fly, cutworm, thrips whitefly, leaf hoppers, aphids (Mealy aphids) – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Cabbageworms, Diamond Back moths, Cabbage white butterfly, Whitefly, Cabbage loopers, Harlequin cabbage bugs can controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Cabbage Root Fly Cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Club Root, rhizoctonia & sclerotini root rot, turnip mosaic virus, blackleg and black rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. The incidence of Clubroot can be diminished by raising your soil pH to 7. Downy mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvest cauliflowers when the head looks full, white and firm. Cut the heads approximately 2.5cm (1”) beneath the base of the head with a sharp knife. Be sure to leave some of the leaves (curds) around the head so you can tie them to keep it protected. Cauliflowers can be stored for about 2 weeks in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. You can also freeze or pickle surplus heads. CORN - Zea mays (Poaceae)
Corn requires a sunny spot in a free draining soil with a pH of 6.0 - 7.0. Corn can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Once you’ve planted your corn seed and watered them in it’s crucial not to water them again until they’ve sprouted, corn seed can rot if waterlogged. Ensure your corn is planted in blocks rather than single rows. This is because corn cobs are pollinated by wind, so block planting ensures you get a good even distribution of pollen and all the cobs needs to mature at the same time if they are to be properly pollinated. Once the plants have developed cobs you may want to consider staking the perimeters of the blocks and tying agricultural sting or hemp between the stakes to avoid the plants becoming uprooted by wind. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed weekly with compost teas made with blood & bone, poultry manure, composted comfrey and potash. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. As they mature some plants may develop aerial roots, cover them with soil/compost and mulch. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – snails, caterpillars, slugs, corn earworm, flea beetles, corn rootworm beetles, cutworm, aphids, thrips, maize leafhoppers, mites, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. European corn borer, armyworm, common stalk borer can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. If birds are likely to dig up the seeds then protect them with bird netting. Black, anthracnose, fusarium, exserohilum, charcoal, diplodia, gibberella and bacterial stalk and root rots can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew, smut, maize dwarf mosaic disease and rust can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvest corn during the “milk stage” that is when kernels are fully formed, plump and tender (about 20 days after the appearance of the first silk strands, when the silks have started to brown). Open the top of an ear press few
kernels with you nail, if the exuded juice appears milky, it is ready for harvest. Corn can be stored for about a week in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. You can also remove, freeze or can surplus kernels. CUCUMBERS - Cucumis sativus (Cucurbitaceae)
Cucumbers require a sunny spot in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with ph of 5.56.5. Cucumbers can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. There are a number of types of cucumber, ensure you choose a cultivar that is suitable to the taste of the children (or experiment with tasting as many as possible!) and your climate/growing season. Cucumbers can be grown on the ground or on trellises where space is an issue. If you intend to grow on the ground ensure that the bed underneath is mulched to reduce risk of fungal diseases caused by water spatter. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed weekly with seaweed, potash, fish emulsion compost teas. The amount of water that cucumbers require varies over their maturity (i.e. when they are producing fruit they require twice the water they needed prior to fruit development). Generally if adequate moisture is not maintained during this period the fruit will be small and bitter to taste. Alternately too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Because a number of varieties of cucumbers need cross pollination it is a beneficial idea to attract bees with herb plantings like, rosemary, lavender or borage. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. A staggered planting will ensure a succession of fruits. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Cucumber beetles, mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, aphids – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Angular leaf spot, bacterium, anthracnose, botrytis, pythium, sclerotinia, alternaria and fusarium root rots can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy Grey mould, gummy stem blight fungus, powdery mildew, oxysporum and xanthomonas can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvesting of cucumbers will vary with variety. It is best to harvest them before seed develops otherwise they become too big, bleached and lose flavour. A general rule of thumb is to harvest when they are approximately 4-8 cm (1-1/2 to 2-1/2”) in diameter and 10-20 cm (5 to 8”) long. Cucumbers can be stored for about a week in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. You can also pickle any surplus. EGGPLANTS (Aubergines/Patlicans) - Solanum melongena (Solanaceae)
Eggplants (Aubergines/Patlicans) require a sunny spot in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Eggplants (Aubergines/Patlicans) can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Once the plants have reached about 15cm (6”) you may want to consider removing the apical leader(the primary shoot at the apex of the plant) to encourage branching and when they commence to flower pinching out upper blossoms to allow the lower fruit to develop in size and texture. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed weekly with liquid fertiliser (such as seaweed and fish emulsion or compost teas). Given that they prefer a warm climate you can maximise fruit production time by raising seedlings in cold frames and transplanting them once the soil warms. A staggered planting will ensure a succession of fruit.
The amount of water that eggplants (aubergines/patlicans) require varies over their maturity (i.e. when they are producing fruit they require twice the water they needed prior to fruit development). Generally if adequate moisture is not maintained during this period the fruit will be small and bitter to taste. Alternately too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Because a number of varieties of eggplants (aubergines/patlicans) need cross pollination it is a beneficial idea to attract bees with herb plantings like, rosemary, lavender or borage. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Epilachna beetle, two-spotted spider mite, eggplant fruit and shoot borer, lacebugs, flea beetles, tomato hornworms, egg fruit caterpillars, aphids, Colorado beetles, spider mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips, leaf hoppers, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Southern blight, Phomopsis blight, Phytophthora blight, Cercospora leaf spot, bacterial wilt and verticillium wilt can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Adding magnesium to the soil can help with verticillium wilt. Downy and powdery mildew, white mould, rust can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Harvest when fruits are full-grown, (approximately 15cm long and still have a glossy sheen) over-mature fruits tend to be spongy, seedy and bitter. Dwarf varieties will be different sizes but will have the same glossy sheen on their skin. Cut with a sharp knife, scissors or secateurs, pulling may damage the plant. Eggplants can be stored for about a week in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. You can also dry, cook, BBQ and preserve any surplus. LEEKS - Allium ampeloprasum (Alliaceae)
Leeks prefer a sunny spot in a free draining soil (loam is preferred) with a pH of 6.5-7.0. Leeks can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed monthly with liquid fertiliser (such as seaweed emulsion) Too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. To produce leeks with long white stems you will need to “blanch”(exclude light from the growing stem to prevent it producing chlorophyll and greening) the plants as they grow. Any part of the stem below ground will blanch naturally, you can extend this process by mounding soil, compost and mulch around the stem or by covering the stem with layers of newspaper If you are attempting the newspaper method irrigate at ground level (not overhead) and regularly check the paper sheaves for snails and slugs. Height x Spacing: 40cm (16”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 19 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Onion seedling maggots, Two-spotted mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Pink root, Botrytis neck rot, Fusarium basal rot and Bacterial soft rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy mildew, Smut, can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. Ensure any animal manures you apply to the soil are well composted prior to planting as they can attract corn seed fly whose larvae will attack new seed sprouts. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases.
Harvesting You can harvest your leeks when the root tops are about 3cm (1”) in diameter, usually this is 5–6 months after planting depending on the variety. As with most root crops the quickest and easiest way to harvest is to gently push a hand shovel or a garden fork into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then whilst pulling upward on the stalks lever the root up and out of the soil. Cut off the roots and leaves with a sharp knife. Leeks can be stored for two to three weeks in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. They can also be frozen in prepared meals or soups, or pickled. LETTUCE - Lactuca sativa (Asteraceae)
Lettuce come in various forms; heart forming (Iceberg, Butterhead, Batavian), upright (Cos, Romaine) and loose leafed (coral, babyleaf). Lettuce can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Lettuce prefer a well drained soil (it can be anything from light sandy loams through to heavy clay loams) in a part shade to full sun position (depending on how hot your climate is) with a pH of about 6.0–6.5. Given that they prefer a warm climate you can maximise plant production time by raising seedlings in cold frames and transplanting them once the soil warms. A staggered planting will ensure a succession of plants. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and continually feed the plants with compost tea made with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter as well as mixtures of seaweed and fish emulsion. If adequate moisture is not maintained during this hot period the plants leaves will be bitter to taste and bolt to seed quickly. Alternately too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring - where seasons are defined or all year in a constantly warm climate Position: Full sun/part shade Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial Watering
Pests & Diseases – Caterpillars, loopers thrips, Rutherglen bug, Green vegetable bug, wireworm, false wireworm Tarnished Plant Bug, Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle, snails, caterpillars, slugs, whitefly, leaf hoppers, aphids (Green Peach aphid, Sowthistle aphid, Rose aphid, Potato aphid, Brown Sowthistle aphid, Lettuce aphid), Vegetable weevils – control using pheromone traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Cucumber mosaic, Lettuce big-vein, Lettuce mosaic, Lettuce necrotic yellows, Tomato spotted wilt, Turnip mosaic, Watery Soft Rot, Anthracnose, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew, White mould, Rust, Gray mould, Septoria leaf spot, Pythium and Leaf blight, Bacterial leaf spot, Corky root and varnish spot can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Lettuce leaves like spinach and kale can be harvested as you require them or the whole head of lettuce can be harvested at once. To remove the heads cut about 2.5cm (1”) below the base with a sharp knife. If you see the plant going to seed, cut the top off to encourage more leaf growth and prevent bitterness. Once one lettuce goes to seed, it triggers all the other lettuce to do the same. Lettuce heads can be stored for about a week in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. Prior to storing your lettuce wash it well to remove dirt, chemicals and bugs, then dry it in a colander When dry wrap it in paper towels and place in a plastic bags and refrigerate. Do not store with apples, pears or bananas as they release a chemical that will cause brown spots to form on the leaves. ONIONS - Allium cepa (Amaryllidaceae)
Onions prefer a sunny spot in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with a pH of 6.0 7.0. The best soil for raising onions is one where the nitrogen has been depleted by a previous crop. This ensures that your plants do not “bulb-up”, which is where the foliage develops at the expense of the size of the bulb. Onions like the cool weather to establish themselves and warm weather for maturing They may be planted throughout the year depending on your climate. Onions can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the
variety and your climate. Thinning out seed-planted onion seedlings gives room for them to draw sufficient nourishment and water from the surrounding soil to fully develop. Planting your seedlings is extremely easy, make a 5cm (2”) groove in the soil, lay your seedlings in the groove at the appropriate spacing, ensure the the roots are at the bottom of the groove, then backfill. In a few days they should have rooted strongly and then foliage should be upright. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed monthly with liquid fertiliser (such as potash). Too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases and too little can split the bulb. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Ensure that the mulch is kept away from the bulb once it surface, this will aid in the prevention of rot and fungal diseases. Height x Spacing: 30cms (12”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Winter Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 13 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Onion seedling maggots, Two-spotted mites, Onion fly, Lesser bulb fly, Onion thrips, Armyworms, Cutworms, Onion Eelworm, Click beetle grub, Spider mite, Allium leaf miner, snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Lesion Nematode, Root-Knot Nematode, Stubby-Root Nematode, and Sting Nematode can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Leaf blight, Leaf fleck, Onion neck rot, Fusarium Basal Rot, Neck Rot, Pink root, Purple blotch, Stemphylium blight, White rot, Bacterial blight, Iris yellow spot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy mildew, Onion White Rot, Smudge, Onion smut, Black mould, Slippery skin, Sour skin, Blue mould rot, Garlic Mosaic, Aster Yellows and Rust can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting You should harvest your onions once the stalks turn yellow, the tops have fallen over and the necks have shrivelled. As with most root crops the quickest and easiest way to harvest is to gently push a hand shovel or a garden fork into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then whilst pulling upward on the stalks lever the root up and out of the soil. Cut off the tops with a sharp knife and store in shallow boxes or mesh bags in a warm, shaded, well ventilated area for 3 to 4 weeks until they air dry. When the onions skins rustle while be handling and the roots have become wiry, they are ready to be move indoors. Store inside in a cool dry spot e.g. garden shed or garage. PEAS - Pisum stivum (Fabaceae)
There are a number of different types of pea for you to choose to grow depending on your climate and taste. Peas can be roughly divided into three types; snow peas, sugar snap peas and podding peas. Peas will grow in most soil types, they prefer a sheltered, sunny spot (although in very warm areas peas can be grown in semi-shade) with warm soil, pH between 6.0 -7.0 and good drainage. Ideally peas should be grown in rotation with other vegetables e.g. peas follow root vegetables such as onions and carrots, and are followed by tomatoes. Peas can be planted directly into the garden bed (soak overnight for a better strike rate) or can be planted into containers initially if you reside in an area that is prone to late/early frosts. Plant crops every two to four weeks to obtain a succession of harvesting periods. Peas do not require watering after planting and should not be watered until the sprouts emerge. Once the plant has begun to grow peas need continuous moisture to create a good harvest, if moisture is lacking during the growing period their flowers will fail to set. Mulching will encourage water retention and protect the shallow root system. Note: Peas do not like mulch up against their stems as this will give rise to rot. Do not overfeed young plants or they will go to fat (produce copious amounts of leaves and delay flowering), instead wait until they have started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid potash once a fortnight to encourage fruit development. Do not apply any nitrogen based fertilisers because peas will fix their own nitrogen into the soil. All of the peas mentioned above require additional support to lift the plant up off the soil and to prevent damage by wind. They can be supported by use of wood, wire or plastic mesh or trellis, plastic string or gardeners twine, wooden, bamboo or plastic poles or pipe. An alternative is companion plantings of corn were the beans are planted
after the corn has established and the beans climb up the corn stalks. After the last of the crop has been harvested cut the plants stem at ground level and leave the roots in the ground as the roots will continue to produce nitrogen as they break down. Lifting plants up off the soil is beneficial where you have limited area to grow, provides greater exposure to sunlight and helps reduce fungal diseases by allowing greater airflow through the plant. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Protect young seedlings from birds by the use of netting. Red and two-spotted mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, black flies, bean fly, cutworm, thrips whitefly, leaf hoppers, aphids – control using traps and a seaweed, oil or soap based spray. Caterpillars can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Anthracnose, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Powdery mildew, white mould, rust and bean mosaic virus can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting The harvesting and storage of peas depends on the variety that you are growing. Garden peas, snow peas and snap peas are the most frequently grown varieties and can be harvested as they mature and are best eaten as soon as they are picked. For snow peas, maturity is when the pods are full-sized but before the peas begins to swell. Garden and snap peas should be harvested when their pods have filled out, just after they have begun to fill out. Cut peas from the bush with a sharp knife, scissors or secateurs, pulling may damage the plant. Gently squeeze open garden peas and remove the pea from the inedible pods. Snow and snap pea pods are edible, trim them and eat them whole. Unshelled peas can be stored for about a week in plastic bags if they are refrigerated. Surplus can be preserved or frozen. To freeze, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then plunge them into ice-water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, pack the peas in airtight bags or containers and place them in the freezer. They will last for up to 9 months. POTATOES aka (Spuds; taters; Afrikaans : aartappel ertappel, Albanian: patate, Bosnian: krompir, Bulgarian: картоф (kart óf), Catalan :
patata, Chinese: 土豆 (tǔ dòu), 马铃薯 (mălíng shǔ), Crimean Tatar : qartop, Croatian: krumpir, Czech: brambor , brambora, Danish: kartoffel, Dutch: aardappel , pieper , patat, Esperanto: terpomo, Estonian: kartul, Faroese: epli, Finnish: peruna, French: pomme de terre , patate, German: Kartoffel , Erdapfel (Southern Germany, Switzerland,
Austria), Greek: πατάτα (patáta) , γεώμηλο (yeómilo), Hindi: आलू (ālū), Hungarian: burgonya , krumpli, Icelandic: kartafla, Inari Sami : potás, Irish: pratai, Italian: patata, Japanese: じゃがいも (jagaimó), 馬鈴薯 (ばれいしょ, barēsho), Korean: 감자 (gamja), Kölsch : Ääpel, Latvian: kartupelis, Limburgish : irpel, Lithuanian: bulvė, Maltese: patata, Mongolian: (töms), Northern Sami : buđeita , buđet, Norwegian: potet, Persian: (sibzamini), Polish: ziemniak , kartofel , pyra, Portuguese: batata , batatinha , marmêndoa, Quechua : papa, Romanian: cartof, barabulă (in Moldavia), Russian: картофель (kartófel’), Sanskrit: आलू (ālū), Scottish Gaelic : buntàta, Slovak: zemiaky, Slovene: krompir, Spanish: papa , patata italbrac, Swahili: kiazi , viazi, Swedish: potatis , pottis, Telugu : ఆలు గడ ్డ , ఉర ్ల గడ ్డ ,
బం గా ళా దు ంప, Tetum : fehuk-ropa , fehuk-malae , fehuk-midar, Thai: (man fà-ràng), Tibetan: (zho khog), Turkish: patates, Ukrainian: картопля (kartóplja), Urdu: (ālū) - Solanum tuberosum (Solanaceae)
Attention: Before planting see –“Killer tomatoes and poisonous potatoes” So many different types of potato and so easy to grow. A good precursor to actually growing them in the ground is to grow them in a dish in your classroom; that way the whole potato can be seen as it develops. Potatoes can be planted directly into your garden bed, container or potato bag and can be grown from certified seed potato tubers (they are usually small and specially selected disease free stock) or from potatoes that have sprouted in your cupboard (although this usually doesn’t happen because most have been sprayed with a growth inhibitor, Yum!). It is usually possible to save some of the harvest from a crop of certified seed potatoes for replanting. Doing this more than once can increase the risk of disease. Potatoes grow quickly, and you can plant successive crops to follow one after the other. If you wish, you can allow them to start to grow before planting simply by exposing them to light (called ‘chitting’). In hot or dry climates sprout seed potatoes in seed trays of dampened potting mix. You can cut up potatoes into smaller pieces, making sure each piece has at least one 'eye' or shoot. Let the cut pieces dry for 24 hours before planting or they will start to rot in particularly damp or humid areas.
Potatoes grow best in a medium that is well drained and in the full sun with a pH of 5.5 – 6.0. The medium can be soil that has been well prepared with a level of well matured blood and bone or straw and prepared compost. Potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will cause them to put energy into growing foliage rather than the tuber. Plant your potatoes about 15 cm (6”) deep and about 30cm (12”) apart and then cover to about 30cm (12”) deep. The new potatoes will develop between the planted tuber and the leaves at the top. As the plant grows continue to mound soil and mulch around the plant. A light feed of a good organic fertilizer, blood and bone, seaweed extract, fish or liquid comfrey to the foliage every two weeks is beneficial. Potatoes take 15-18 weeks to mature depending on what time of year it is and what kind of potato you are growing. Potatoes can be grown most of the warmer months but be warned, they are frost-tender. Keep the potatoes watered moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet. Also they do not grow well in heavy clay or a limed soil. When the plant produces flowers the potatoes are getting close to maturity. When the plants begin to die back and turn yellow, the potatoes are ready for harvest. Potatoes accumulate cadmium and other heavy metals, so avoid fertilizers which contain these elements. Similarly, tyres contain cadmium which is known to cause cancer in humans and animals and some gardeners claim this can leach into your crop when the tyres are exposed to light. If you intend to use tyres to grow your crop keep them covered with light resistant breathable fabric to err on the side of caution OR DON”T USE TYRES. Height x Spacing: 40cms (16”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Depends on climate and variety Position: Full sun Growing Weeks: varies Plant Type: Perennial Watering
Pests & Diseases – Snails, Slugs, Potato Tuber Moths, Peach Aphid, Andean Potato Weevils, Wireworms, White Grubs, Mites, Leaf miner Flies, Whiteflies, Blister Beetles, Colorado Potato Beetle, Aster Leafhopper, Potato Psyllid, Potato Tuber worm, Lygus Bug and False Chinch Bug, Cutworm, Armyworm, Potato Flea Beetle, Potato eelworm, Melon thrips, White fringed weevil – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Cyst, Root-knot, False Root-knot, Lesion Nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Wilt, blight, canker and rot diseases and potato viruses can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Powdery Scab, Powdery Mildew, White Mould and Common scab can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides and ensuring the crowing medium is not over wet. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Potatoes are ready for harvesting when the foliage of the plant wilts and dies back, usually between 12 to 20 weeks after planting depending on the variety. Watering them or allowing them to become waterlogged or sodden at his point will cause them to scab, soften and if left long enough, rot in the ground. As with most root crops the quickest and easiest way to harvest is to gently push a hand shovel or a garden fork into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then lever the root up and out of the soil. Prior to storing potatoes need to be “cured” (air dried), and then they can be placed in a cool, dark, dry place. Exposure to light turns the flesh of potatoes green and poisonous. Storing potatoes in the fridge is not recommended as it causes the starch to turn into sugars. PUMPKINS - Cucurbita pepo, mixta, maxima and moschata, (Cucurbitaceae)
Pumpkins are a warm season, frost tender, vine crop with fruit of various sizes, shapes, colours and intensity of flavours. Choose your plant based on the area that you have to cultivate, successful local species and your taste preference. Pumpkins will grow in full sun (or partial shade in a hot climate) in a free draining soil with ph of 6.0 – 7.0. Pumpkins can be planted directly into your garden bed (traditionally in a raised mound – to assist with drainage) or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Soaking the seeds the night before planting will soften the outer shell and make sprouting easier and faster. Choose a spot in your garden or flower bed where you can plant your seed roughly at the centre of where you intend the vines to spread (A single vine can grow as long as 9m/30’). Pumpkins can be grown on the ground or on trellises where space is an issue. If you intend to grow on the ground ensure that the bed underneath is mulched to reduce risk of fungal diseases caused by water spatter.
Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed weekly with seaweed, potash and fish emulsion compost teas. The water and fertiliser that pumpkins require varies over their maturity (i.e. when they are producing fruit they require twice the water and fertiliser they needed prior to fruit development). Generally if adequate moisture is not maintained during this period the fruit will split. Alternately too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Deep but infrequent watering usually results in a healthier plant. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Because a number of varieties of pumpkins need cross pollination it is a beneficial idea to attract bees with herb plantings like, rosemary, lavender or borage. If a blossom is not pollinated it is not uncommon for it and any mini pumpkins to brown and drop of. Generally the first blossoms will drop off as they’re usually male. If this continues to happen you might consider hand pollinating the flowers yourself using a soft haired brush or cotton bud. Use your instrument to transfer the pollen from the male flower (no bulge behind the petals) and spread it over the female crown inside the flower. This should increase your chances of harvesting pumpkins. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips whitefly, leaf hoppers, aphids, Cucumber beetles, Four line bugs, Heliothis moth, Pumpkin beetle and 28-spotted ladybird beetle – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Cutworms and caterpillars can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Black, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew, White mould, Rust, Cucumber mosaic virus, Zucchini yellow mosaic virus and Brown etch can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Pumpkins should be harvested before the possibility of a frost (whilst a light frost will only kill the vines a heavy frost will damage the pumpkin), when they have reached their “ripe” colour (this will vary with different varieties) and when the skin has hardened and the stalk has begun to dry out and become brittle. To remove the pumpkins from the vine cut about 2.5cm (1”) above the fruit with a sharp knife, scissors or secateurs, pulling may damage the plant. Cure your dry pumpkins for three weeks in a warm sunny spot then store them singularly and unencumbered in a cool, dark well aerated place, leaving the stem in place. RADISHES - Raphanus sativus (Brassicaceae)
Radishes will grow in full sun (or partial shade in a hot climate) in a free draining soil (preferably sandy loam) with ph of 6.0 to 7.0. The main types grown are globe, oval, oblong and long. Radishes can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Plant crops every two to four weeks to obtain a succession of harvesting periods. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and continually feed the plants with compost tea or a foliar spray made with a potash and manure rich fertiliser. Radishes also require a constant supply of nitrogen. This is best fed to the plants with compost tea made with an organic nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. The high temperatures of summer cause the plant to develop small tops, and roots rapidly become pithy and strongly pungent after reaching maturity. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Snails, caterpillars, slugs, cutworm, thrips, aphids, snails and slugs, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Cabbageworms, cabbage white butterfly, whitefly, cabbage loopers, harlequin cabbage bugs can controlled by growing plants beneath a floating row cover. Cabbage Root Fly, cutworms, flea beetles and cabbage root maggots can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Club Root, Black root rot, turnip mosaic virus, blackleg can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil, purchasing resistant varieties and rotating your Brassica crops once every three years. Downy and powdery mildew and White rust can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. The incidence of Clubroot can be diminished by raising your soil pH to 7. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting When to harvest radishes depends on the variety you have planted. Spring-Summer radishes should be harvested about three to five weeks after sowing, winter radishes take about 3 to 4 months to mature. Usually you will be able see the top portion of the radish poking up through the soil. When it is 3cm (1”) diameter they are ready to be picked. Radishes can be harvested by gently pushing a hand shovel or a garden fork into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then levering the root up and out of the surrounding soil. Don’t let mature radishes sit in the ground or they will get either woody or spongy. To store wash and dry radish, trim both taproot and tops, and store in plastic bags in a refrigerator for up to a month. Spring-Summer radishes can be stored in the refrigerator, in plastic for about a week. Winter radishes will last about 2 weeks in the fridge or several months in cold storage. Radish tops or green s are also edible. To store cut the tops off the radishes and dry them thoroughly. Store them in plastic bags in the refrigerator. SPRING ONIONS (SHALLOTS/SCALLIONS/ESCHALOTS) - Allium cepa (Amaryllidaceae)
Spring onions/shallots prefer a sunny spot (or if you’re in a hot climate, partial shade) in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with a pH of 6.0 and 7.0. The best soil for raising Spring onions/ Shallots is one where the nitrogen has been depleted by a previous crop. This ensures that your plants do not “bulb-up”, which is where the foliage develops at the expense of the size of the bulb. Spring onions/Shallots like the cool weather to establish themselves and warm weather for maturing. They may be planted throughout the year depending on your climate. Spring onions/Shallots are grown from bulbets (sets) or seeds and can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. Thinning out seed-planted Spring onions/Shallots seedlings gives room for them to draw sufficient nourishment and water from the surrounding soil to fully develop. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed continually with compost tea made with a nitrogen rich fertiliser like dynamic lifter. Too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases to little can split the bulb. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Ensure that the mulch is kept away from the bulb once it surfaces, this will aid in the prevention of rot and fungal diseases. After the bulbs swell remove the mulch so the sun can ripen the bulbs. Dust a newly planted shallot bed with wood ashes to discourage wilt and harmful worms. The bulbs have reached maturity when the top yellows and withers. For an extended harvest season, plant and harvest the largest shallots first, replanting smaller bulbs in their place for harvesting later. Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Onion seedling maggots, Two-spotted mites, Onion fly, Lesser bulb fly, Onion thrips, Armyworms, Cutworms, Onion Eelworm, Click beetle grub, Spider mite, Allium leaf miner, snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Lesion Nematode, Root-Knot Nematode, Stubby-Root Nematode and Sting Nematode can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Leaf blight, Leaf fleck, Onion neck rot, Fusarium Basal Rot, Neck Rot, Pink root, Purple blotch, Stemphylium blight, White rot, Bacterial blight, Iris yellow spot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy mildew, Onion White Rot, Smudge, Onion smut, Black mould, Slippery skin, Sour skin, Blue mould rot, Garlic Mosaic, Aster Yellows and Rust can occur
but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Spring onions can be harvested anytime after they reach 1.5cms (1/2”) in diameter and approximately 20- 30cms (8-12”) in height. Spring onions can be harvested by gently pushing a hand shovel or a garden fork into the soil parallel to the vegetable, then levering the root up and out of the surrounding soil. Prior to storing your spring onions wash them to remove dirt, chemicals and bugs, then dry them. When dry, wrap them in paper towels and place in a plastic bags and refrigerate. Spring onions can be stored for one week if they are refrigerated. SILVER BEET (Swiss chard/Mangold) - Beta vulgaris (Amaranthaceae)
Silver beet does well in a wide range of climates. Silver beet will grow in most soil types; they prefer a sheltered, sunny spot or partial shaded spot (depending on the climate) with al pH of 6.0 to 7.0 and good drainage. Plant every four weeks to obtain a succession of harvesting periods. Silver beet can be are planted directly into the garden bed or can be planted into containers initially if you reside in an area that is prone to late/early frosts. Silver beet seeds come in a knobby, dried fruit called a cluster seed, with two to six seeds in each cluster. Soak the clusters in water 24 hours before planting so that you can separate the seeds, alternately plant the seed clusters and thin out the weakest seedlings. Silver beet needs continuous moisture to create a good harvest, and if moisture is lacking during the growing period the leaves will fail to thrive and be small and hard in texture. Mulching with compost will encourage water retention and protect the root system. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed fortnightly with liquid fertiliser (such as a soluble dynamic lifter, seaweed and fish emulsion compost teas). Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Red and two-spotted mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, slugs, webworm, cutworm, budworm, Aphids, Loopers, Weevils, Beet webworms, Mangold flies (Beet leaf miner) Sugar beet nematodes, – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Cutworms and caterpillars can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Cercospora leaf spot and Black, anthracnose, fusarium and rhizoctonia root rot can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting As with most lettuce, spinach and other leafy vegetables you can remove the outer chard leaves as they mature (when they are about 15-20cm (6-8”) in height) and leave the inner younger leaves to grow. The younger leaves are mild in flavour and have less texture than a full developed leaf. Be sure to cut the leaves (about 2.5cms (1”) above the ground with a sharp knife or scissors. Attempting to pull the leaves from the plant may damage the plants root system. Prior to storing your chard leaves wash them to remove dirt, chemicals and bugs, then dry them. When dry, wrap them in paper towels and place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Chard leaves can be stored for 34 days if they are refrigerated. Chard can also be frozen or canned. SPINACH - Spinacia oleracea (Amaranthaceae)
Unlike its sibling, Silver beet, English spinach is best suited to cooler climates if you reside in a different climate and want a similar leafy green you may wish to try growing Ceylonese/Indian spinach Basella rubra, Chinese spinach, Amaranthus gangeticus, French spinach, Ariplex hortensis, New Zealand spinach, Tetragonia expansa, or Water spinach, Ipomoea aquatic.
Spinach prefers a well drained soil such as a sandy loam; they prefer a sheltered, sunny spot or partial shaded spot (depending on the climate) and neutral pH. Plant every four weeks to obtain a succession of harvesting periods. Spinach prefers to be planted directly into the garden bed, but can be planted into containers and subsequently transplanted although the success rate may diminish. Spinach tends to bolt if it is left to dry, is underfed, overheats or sometimes through the shock of transplant. Soak the seeds in water 24 hours before planting. Each seed will produce a little clump of leafy plants. Spinach needs continuous moisture to create a good harvest, and if moisture is lacking during the growing period the leaves will fail to thrive and be small and hard in texture. Mulching with compost will encourage water retention and protect the root system. Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed fortnightly with liquid fertiliser (such as a soluble dynamic lifter, seaweed and fish emulsion compost teas). Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Red and two-spotted mites, Snails, Caterpillars, Slugs, Spinach Leaf Miner, Armyworms, Cornear worms, Aphids, Loopers, Weevils, Beet webworms – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Cutworms and caterpillars can be controlled with the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust. Cercospora leaf spot, Fusarium wilt and root rot and Spinach Blight or Yellows (Cucumber mosaic virus) can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Downy and powdery mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Spinach is usually ready for harvest 4 -6 weeks after planting it (depending on your climate). As with chard and other leafy vegetables you can continually harvest leaves from individual plants or harvest the plant in one go. Harvesting the outer leaves continually can stop some varieties from bolting to seed. Be sure to cut the leaves (about 2.5cms (1”) above the ground with a sharp knife or scissors. Attempting to pull the leaves from the plant may damage the plants root system. Prior to storing your spinach leaves, wash them to remove dirt, chemicals and bugs, and then dry them. When dry, wrap them in paper towels and place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Spinach leaves can be stored for up to 2 weeks if they are refrigerated. Spinach leaves can be frozen but because they have such a high water content this usually causes the cell membranes to rupture and when you thaw the leaves they are lose much of their taste and texture. TOMATOES - Albanian – domate, Arabic – مطامطلا, Bulgarian – домат, Catalan – tomàquet, Chinese (Simplified) – 番茄,
Chinese (Traditional) – 番茄,Croatian – paradajz, Czech – rajče, Danish – tomat, Dutch – tomaat, English – tomato, Estonian – tomat, Filipino – kamatis, Finnish – tomaatti, French – tomate, Galician – tomate, German – Tomaten, Greek – ντομάτα, Hebrew – הינבגע, Hindi – टमाटर, Hungarian – paradicsom, Indonesian – tomat, Italian – pomodoro, Japanese – トマト, Korean – 토마토, Latvian – tomātu, Lithiuanian – pomidorų, Maltese – tadam, Norwegian – tomat, Polish – pomidor, Portuguese – tomate, Romanian – roşii, Russian – томат, Serbian – парадајз, Slovak – paradajka, Slovenian – paradižnika, Spanish – tomate, Swedish – tomat, Thai – โทมาโท, Turkish – domates, Ukrainian – томат, Vietnamese – cà chua - Lycopersicon lycopersicum
(Solanaceae) Attention: Before planting see –“Killer tomatoes and poisonous potatoes”
There are very few spots on earth where you won’t find tomatoes growing or used extensively in the cuisine. The multitude of cultures that grow and use them is only matched by the varieties available to grow, each with different colours, sizes, shapes, smells and tastes. There is definitely one that will grow well in your climate. The major difference that you will notice having grown your own is the taste. That is it will have some. Most commercially grown tomatoes that you purchase these days have either been bred for size, colour or durability; all things that make them marketable, yet tasteless. Tomatoes are warm season crop and require a sunny sheltered spot (or partial shade depending on your climate and the cultivar you intend to grow) in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with ph of 6.0 7.0. If you want to maximise your growing season and to have more control over the establishment and shape of your plants it is best to raise them as seedlings and then transplant them into your garden.
Ensure when you’re planting to give your seedlings sufficient room to develop, this allows them to obtain sufficient moisture and sunlight, and ensure they are far enough from each other so if one contracts a fungal disease it is not spread by contact. When planting your seedlings remove the lower leaves and bury the stem portion all the way up to the upper leaves. Tomatoes can develop roots all along their stems. A stronger larger root system means a sturdier plant that can obtain greater moisture and nutrients from the soil. There are two primary habits or growth shapes for tomato plants (depending on their cultivar), determinate or indeterminate. Determinate plants grow in a bushy habit and may reach a maximum height of 1-1.5m (3-5ft). Indeterminate plants will continue to grow and fruit (up to heights of 3m/10ft) until the end of their season. Both types require support to allow them to, grow up and away from the ground (avoiding fungal infections), maximise the amount of sunlight they receive and ensure that they are secure against wind damage. Support can be provided in the form of (square) wooden garden stakes, trellises or towers. To avoid root damage position your supporting device in the ground prior to transplanting the seedlings. A good guide is one stake for each branch your plant produces. It is a good idea if you’re using wooden support devices to either purchase new ones (stakes) each year or spray them with an anti-fungal solution at least two weeks prior to when you intend to use them. When tying your plants use materials that are soft and either will not hold moisture or dry very quickly (e.g. old nylon stockings or a soft rubber tie). Tomatoes require different fertilisers as they grow, mature and begin to fruit. When they are planted they require certain levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil to assist in root, stem and leaf growth, once they start to flower and fruit they require a greater amount of potassium, preferably in the form of a seaweed solution foliar spray (you may also wish to add a handful of potash to the soil at the base of each plant). The wrong fertiliser at the wrong time (e.g. too much nitrogen) may cause the plant to put all its efforts into producing foliage and delay fruiting. Concurrently the amount of water that is required varies over their maturity (i.e. when they are producing fruit they require twice the water they needed prior to fruit development). Generally, if too much or too little moisture is provided during this period the flowers or fruit will drop from the plant (Blossom end rot) or the fruits skin will crack. Too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) or in the wrong way (at the plant base not on the foliage) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system, protect the leaves from fungal diseases splashed up from the soil and also keep any weeds under control. Use nurturing mulches (lucerne hay, sugar cane mulch, pea straw) that will break down and feed the plants as they decay. I have read of some people who advocate pruning your tomatoes to promote larger fruit growth or to train the plant into a particular shape. My experience has shown that removing the covering foliage generally results in the fruit being burnt by the sun. I do believe in removing the lower leaves once the plants are about 1m (3ft) tall. These leaves do not usually receive that much sunlight, so are not integral to the plants development, and are usually the ones that will become infected with soil born fungal infections. If you wish to affect fruit development you may wish to pinch out suckers that develop in the crotch joint or above any already developing fruit, however a number of studies xviii suggest that it does not have an effect on the size of remaining fruit and in fact may have a detrimental effect, reducing the overall yield. Because tomatoes need cross pollination it is a beneficial idea to attract bees with herb plantings like, rosemary, lavender or borage. If a tomato flower is not pollinated it is not uncommon for it to brown and drop of. If this continues to happen you might consider hand pollinating the flowers yourself using a feather, a soft haired brush or cotton bud. Use your instrument to transfer the pollen from the male flower (male flowers tend to be on the end of a long narrow stalk) and spread it over the female crown inside the flower (female flowers are a lot closer to the main stem and have a swelling behind the petals). Height x Spacing: 40cms (16”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Depends on climate and variety Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: varies Plant Type: Perennial
Pests & Diseases – Aphids Red and two-spotted mites, Caterpillars, Slugs, Wireworms, Armyworms, Flea beetles, Tomato pinworm mites, snails, Buffalo treehopper, Potato moth Tomato Russet mite, Tomato Moth, Silver leaf whitefly, Queensland fruit fly, Tomato fruit worm, Potato tuber worm, Hornworms, Cutworm, Thrips, Whitefly, Leaf hoppers, Lygus bugs, Leaf miners, Vegetable weevil – control using traps, a pyrethrum, citrus, orange, Need, seaweed or soap based spray, the use of an organic pesticide like bacillus thuringiensis found in Dipel dust or by removing affected leaves. Potato eelworm (Nematodes) can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Greenback, Anthracnose, Fusarium, Buckeye, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Verticillium, Transit, Sclerotinia root rot, Potato and Southern Blight, Septoria Leaf Spot, Capsicum chlorosis virus, Enation Mosaic Virus, Pepino mosaic virus, Spotted wilt virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Tomato spotted wilt virus, Tomato yellow leaf curl virus, Curly top virus can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Powdery mildew, Black mould, White mould, Grey mould, can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting There are many different varieties of tomatoes and when to harvest depends on the variety you’ve sown and your climate. Usually tomatoes are ready for harvesting from Summer through to Autumn, although if you reside in a warm area free of frosts, you can grow them continually. To determine when to harvest monitor your plants, watching for the skins to become firm, glossy and smooth and the underside of developing fruits to change colour (this can be anything from green, through red, purple, pink, golden yellow to black) depending on the variety. A number of gardeners selectively remove a plants apical leader (the primary shoot at the apex of the plant) on indeterminate varieties and new flower clusters to influence quality of fruit and the speed of ripening. When harvesting tomatoes, cut the fruit at the stalk approximately 2.5cms (1”) above the fruit with a sharp knife, scissors or secateurs, attempting to pull the fruit from the plant may damage the plants root system. If you reside in an area that is subject to frosts and your plants have a load of green fruit, you can protect them from a light frost by covering them with old sheets, tarpaulins or sacks. If the frost is predicted to be heavy you may wish to pick any tomatoes that have reached about 3/4 of their mature size and are showing some colour and ripen them indoors. Windfalls or late season fruit will continue to ripen if they are placed within a dark paper bag in a warm place. A paper bag maintains the temperature of the fruit, deters the build up of moisture, and traps emitethylene gas which in turn stimulates ripening. You can also add ripe fruit like apples or bananas to help this process. Refrigerating tomatoes spoils their flavour and texture and can cause the water in the cell membranes to rupture and give you a “mushy” fruit. Instead, store them in a single layer at room temperature in a cool dry place. Check them frequently for deterioration or rot. To preserve them for future use you can freeze them (they should keep for up to eight months) or dry and preserve them (up to a year). There are also numerous recipes for sauces, chutneys and pickles from the pictorial links below. ZUCCHINI (Courgette/Marrow/ Summer squash) - Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae)
Zucchinis require a sunny spot in a free draining soil (sandy loam is preferred) with ph of 6.0 7.0. Zucchinis can be planted directly into your garden bed or raised as seedlings and then transplanted depending on the variety and your climate. If planting multiple seeds ensure your zucchinis get the best chance to grow by thinning out the weakest seedlings. Thinning gives room for the zucchini plants to develop properly. There are a number of varieties of Zucchinis, ensure you choose a cultivar that is suitable to the taste of the children (or experiment with tasting as many as possible!) and your climate/growing season. Unlike cucumbers, zucchinis are not climbers so ensure that the bed underneath the plant is mulched to reduce risk of fungal diseases caused by water spatter.
Maintain a moist (not wet) garden bed and liquid feed monthly with seaweed, potash, and fish emulsion compost teas. The amount of water that zucchinis require varies over their maturity (i.e. when they are producing fruit they require twice the water they needed prior to fruit development). Generally if adequate moisture is not maintained during this period the fruit will be small and bitter to taste. Alternately too much water or watering at the wrong time (evenings) can promote mould and root rot diseases. Ensure that the mulch is kept away from the stem of the plant, this will aid in the prevention of rot and fungal diseases. Mulching will help maintain moisture levels in the bed, protect the root system and also keep any weeds under control. Staggered planting and harvesting will ensure a succession of fruits. Because a number of varieties of zucchini need cross pollination it is a beneficial idea to attract bees with herb plantings like, rosemary, lavender or borage. If a flower is not pollinated it is not uncommon for it to brown and drop of. If this continues to happen you might consider hand pollinating the flowers yourself using a soft haired brush or cotton bud. Use your instrument to transfer the pollen from the male flower (male flowers tend to be on the end of a long narrow stalk) and spread it over the female crown inside the flower (female flowers are a lot closer to the main stem and have a swelling behind the petals). Height x Spacing: 25cms (10”) x 10cms (4”) Sow in: Spring Position: Full sun Watering Growing Weeks: 17 Plant Type: Hardy Biennial
Pests & Diseases – Squash vine borer, White flies, Pumpkin beetles, leafhoppers, mites, snails, caterpillars, slugs, thrips, aphids – control using traps, a seaweed, oil or soap based spray or by removing affected leaves. Root node nematodes can be controlled with products that contain crab or shrimp meal and purchasing resistant varieties. Squash Blossom End Rot, Bacterial wilt, Phytophthora and Plectosporium blight and Squash mosaic (SqMV) and Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) can be avoided by ensuring clean, free draining soil and purchasing resistant varieties. Grey Mould, Downy and powdery mildew can occur but can be controlled with organic sulphur, copper, oil or bicarbonate based fungicides. See the Companion Plantings Appendix for alternative suggestions for repelling pests and diseases. Harvesting Most zucchini varieties are ready to pick when they 15-20cms (10-12”) long and 6- 8cms (1 1/2 to 3”) in diameter. They can be longer or shorter depending on your variety and preferences. Zucchini flowers can also be eaten. Be sure to cut the fruit from the plant with a sharp knife or scissors. Attempting to pull zucchini off the plant will usually damage the entire plant. They are best harvested when the skin rind is soft and seeds are not fully developed. It is important to harvest your fruit as they develop. Delay in harvest means the skin will thicken, and the seeds will harden, reducing the flavour and texture of the fruit. Constant harvesting also prompts younger fruit to grow and ripen. Prior to storing your zucchini wash them to remove dirt, chemicals and bugs, then dry them. When dry, wrap them in paper towels and place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Zucchini can be stored for 3-5 days if they are refrigerated. To freeze zucchini slice them, then blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling water and then plunge them into an ice water bath for 2 minutes. Place them into freezer bags. They will keep for up to 6 months. Zucchinis can also be pickled.
From left: National Centre for Food Preservation, Preserving your beans, 7 ways to cook and preserve tomatoes, How to store pumpkins and potatoes, Harvesting and storing leeks
Seed saving Having grown and harvested your vegetables it is beneficial to you to extract and preserve seeds from the crop for future plantings. Depending on the vegetable, seeds will either be obtained from the fruit, the flower or pods. You may also like to participate in exchanging your seeds with local, national or international networks (whilst observing your countries protocols in respect to plant movement and import/export regulations). There are a number of sites which offer in depth instruction in how to gather and preserve seeds for future use. In Australia see Seeds savers or in the US Seed savers exchange. I have also found the International Seed Saving Institute and the How to save seeds site to be exceptionally helpful sources of information.
From left: the Svalbard global seed vault in Norway, The Seed Cathedral (link to a video) constructed by the UK for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, a visitor examines one of the 60,000 seeds encased in acrylic rods that make up the Seed Cathedral. Storing and organising your seeds and keeping a garden journal Someone once told me that the process of record keeping meant that we didn’t have to try and remember everything. The process of keeping a garden journal or as it is currently known “knowledge management”, means that you or anyone who takes your place has a detailed record of your garden including; • • • • • • • • Local weather conditions and dates of seasonal changes, Planting and transplanting dates, Soil conditions and amendments made, Pests and diseases, Specific gardening activities e.g. pruning, mulching, fertilising, Details of harvests and a schedule for future plantings, Information about seeds that you have preserved or acquired, Garden costs.
There are a number of different ways to keep a record of your garden from a simple daily diary to more comprehensive computer based programmes. I have discovered that for me a binder with removable loose leaf plastic sleeves is a cheap and easy way for me to keep written records, reference materials and articles, photographs and recipes in addition to safely carrying my seed collection. Free garden journal templates can be downloaded here).
From left: design and print out your own packets, A tutorial on seed collection, organisation and planting Directions for making seed packets, Detailed information on organizing seeds and planting records.
Appendix A - Irrigation System Maintenance Checklist Controller Controller manual - Find the manual for your irrigation controller and make sure you are familiar with its operation. Controller cabinet - Open the cabinet for the irrigation controller and make sure it is free of debris such as cobwebs or dirt. This is also a good time to replace the battery. Wiring - Check all wiring connections for wear and breakage. Repair if necessary. Time/day settings - Check the time/day settings on your controller to make sure they are correct. This is also a good time to set up an irrigation schedule. Irrigation schedule - Set up your irrigation schedule. Sprinkler System Flush system - Before running the system, remove the last sprinkler head in each line and let the water run for a few minutes to flush out any dirt and debris. Replace the sprinkler heads and turn the system on, running one valve at a time. Broken or clogged heads - Look for obviously broken or clogged heads and make the necessary repairs. Consider installing irrigation heads that have screens to prevent debris (grass, soil, or bugs) from clogging the sprinkler heads. Clean out screens that may be clogged. Broken/leaking valve or pipe - Observe the lowest head in each station for leaks. Algae or moss may be growing in the area and may indicate the problem. High pressure - Look for a very fine mist from spray heads caused by excessive pressure in the system. Correct the problem with a pressure regulator after the water meter, pressure regulating sprinkler heads, or added devices on individual sprinkler heads. Low pressure - Check to see if the sprinklers are covering the desired area uniformly. If your pressure is too low, try watering at a different time or modifying your system so there are fewer sprinklers on each valve. Incorrect spray arc - Check to see that irrigated areas are being covered completely. Consider adjusting the spray pattern if possible, or replace the spray nozzle(s) with another that has the correct spray pattern. Low head drainage - Check to see if water is draining through the lower heads. Install check valves where appropriate, or replace existing heads with heads that contain built-in check valves. Mismatched heads - Check to see that different types of heads are not used in the same irrigation zone. Nozzles should also be correlated for matched precipitation rates. Over-spray - Look for over-spray of sprinklers onto sidewalks, driveways, and streets. The sprinklers’ spray patterns should either be adjusted or changed to a pattern that will stay within the planting area. Spray pattern blocked or misdirected - Look for blocked spray patterns. Remove vegetation and other obstructions that may be blocking the spray, or consider raising the heads. Sunken heads/short pop-ups - Check each head to see that it is at ground level. Raise sunken heads to grade or replace existing short pop-up heads in the lawn with taller pop-ups, as necessary. You can also trim around existing heads to avoid blocking the spray but you will have to do this on a continual basis. Tilted heads - Heads should be aligned vertically, except in sloped areas. In a sloped area, heads should be aligned perpendicular to the slope to achieve proper coverage. Tilted heads can cause ponding and uneven coverage. Uneven or extended head spacing - Check to see if you have head to head coverage between sprinklers. If necessary, consult a qualified professional to design a system with head-to-head spacing.
Drip System Clogged emitters/missing filter - Clogged emitters should be replaced. If the system does not have a water filter, one should to be installed. Emitters too close/far from plant - Check the placement of emitters. Emitters need to be at the edge of the rootball on new plantings and moved to the drip line (edge of foliage) of established plants. High pressure/missing pressure regulator - Check for emitters that have popped off tubing because of high pressure. Install a pressure regulator on the valve for all drip stations. Missing/broken emitter - Check to see that all of your emitters are in place. Missing and broken emitters need to be replaced to keep your system running efficiently. Pinched or broken tubing - Look for pinched or broken tubing and straighten or replace it. Tubing pulled/blown off single/multiple outlet emitters - Make sure all tubing is attached to the appropriate emitters and that connections are secure.
Appendix B - Different mulches
Appendix C - Optimal soil pH for vegetables
Appendix D - Companion plants for vegetables
Appendix E - Advisory proforma for use when herbicides/ fungicides/pesticides are to be used in a playspace A printable version can be downloaded here Important Notice to all Parents and Staff (Date) Pesticide/herbicide/fungicide spraying will be carried out on / /
(Time) spraying will take place at approximately....................................am/pm (Area) we will be spraying the............................................................................................... (Product) with....................................................................................................................... (Website information) A product Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) can be down loaded from...................................................................................................................................... (Staff Contact) Or if you have any questions or concerns, please see ................................. prior to the spray application. The area can be safely re-entered after........................................am/pm on Director/Principal/Coordinator.................................................................... / / / /
Appendix F - Toxoplasmosis - Information derived from the Centre for Disease Control, 31/08/2011. Summary 1) Toxoplasmosis is caused by exposure/ingestion of undercooked, contaminated meat (humans and animals). Cats that are fed undercooked, contaminated meat may carry the parasite in their system. 2) Humans may accidentally swallow the parasite through contact with cat faeces by touching or ingesting anything that has come into contact with cat faeces that contain Toxoplasma (e.g., not washing hands after gardening/play or eating soil/sand that have come in contact with the parasite) 3) Cats that have been fed only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food are not susceptible to contracting and spreading the parasite. Cats only carry Toxoplasma in their faeces for a few weeks following infection with the parasite. The infection will go away on its own. 4) “While the parasite is found throughout the world, more than 60 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. Of those who are infected, very few have symptoms because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. However, pregnant women and individuals who have compromised immune systems should be cautious; for them, a Toxoplasma infection could cause serious health problems. A Toxoplasma infection occurs by: • Eating undercooked, contaminated meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison). • Accidental ingestion of undercooked, contaminated meat after handling it and not washing hands thoroughly (Toxoplasma cannot be absorbed through intact skin). • Eating food that was contaminated by knives, utensils, cutting boards and other foods that have had contact with raw, contaminated meat. • Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma gondii. • Accidentally swallowing the parasite through contact with cat faeces that contain Toxoplasma. This might happen by 1) cleaning a cat's litter box when the cat has shed Toxoplasma in its faeces 2) touching or ingesting anything that has come into contact with cat faeces that contain Toxoplasma 3) accidentally ingesting contaminated soil (e.g., not washing hands after gardening or eating unwashed fruits or vegetables from a garden) • Mother-to-child (congenital) transmission. How can I prevent toxoplasmosis? There are several general sanitation and food safety steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming infected with Toxoplasma gondii. • Cook food to safe temperatures. A food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat. Do not sample meat until it is cooked. USDA recommends the following for meat preparation. • For Whole Cuts of Meat (excluding poultry) Cook to at least 145° F (63° C) as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming. • For Ground Meat (excluding poultry) Cook to at least 160° F (71° C); ground meats do not require a rest xix time. • For All Poultry (whole cuts and ground) Cook to at least 165° F (74° C), and for whole poultry allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming. • Freeze meat for several days at sub-zero (0° F) temperatures before cooking to greatly reduce chance of infection. • Peel or wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. • Wash cutting boards, dishes, counters, utensils, and hands with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, or unwashed fruits or vegetables. • Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat faeces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand. • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection and keep your outdoor sandboxes covered.
If I am at risk, can I keep my cat? Yes, you may keep your cat if you are a person at risk for a severe infection (e.g., you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant); however, there are several safety precautions to avoid being exposed to Toxoplasma gondii: • Ensure the cat litter box is changed daily. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat's faeces. • If you are pregnant or immunocompromised: 1. Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards. 2. Keep cats indoors. 3. Do not adopt or handle stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant. • Feed cats only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food, not raw or undercooked meats. • Keep your outdoor sandboxes covered. Once infected with Toxoplasma is my cat always able to spread the infection to me? No, cats only spread Toxoplasma in their faeces for a few weeks following infection with the parasite. Like humans, cats rarely have symptoms when first infected, so most people do not know if their cat has been infected. The infection will go away on its own therefore it does not help to have your cat or your cat's faeces tested for Toxoplasma.
Appendix G – Treated timber in playspaces, CCA, ACQ, LOSP & Tanalith E. Information derived from the CSIRO, APVMA, ERMA, EnHealth, US EPA, Better Health Victoria - 12/09/2011. Summary Be aware of the regulations/ legislation in place in your country in respect to the use of timber treated with CCA preservatives. In Canada, the US and Europe their use is prohibited, in others the use of existing structures is allowed (using recommended procedures- see below), in some no guidelines exist. 1) There are no conclusive studies that link playground structures made with timber treated with CCA and cancer. In fact there are a number of studies focused on children’s play environments that indicate that any transfer of arsenic in any form did not pose a health risk. xx xxi The UK Health and Safety Executive released the following directive, “Play providers and users should be assured that there is no need to remove CCA-treated items that are otherwise in good order simply because of the presence of CCA. The risk from CCA in this case is extremely low” xxii 2) A link between handling CCA-treated timber (using recommended procedures) and cancer has not been demonstrated, as the potential ingestion rates of arsenic that can be calculated from valid available research are well within tolerable limits xxiii. 3) For the wary the following precautions are advised: • Always wash your hands before eating, • Do not use wood chip (fines) mulch that have originated from CCA treated timber, • Paint any existing structures made from CCA timber with exterior coloured UV (opaque) paint. Structures that are constantly used will obviously show greater wear, repaint them yearly or as required. • If you have or intend to use CCA treated timber in the construction of a raised garden bed line the inside of the bed with plastic and/or plant any root crops at least 100mm from the wood. • Do not clean CCA treated timber with bleaches, deck cleaners or brighteners that contain sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, sodium percarbonate, oxalic acid, or citric acid may release toxic chemicals from CCA-treated wood. • If any construction is being carried out on existing CCA structures ensure that cuts are sealed as above and that any off cuts are disposed off as per your localities regulations. Any individual carrying out work on the structures should be familiar with the PPE that is required as well as safe work procedures relating to any dust generated, sealing of cuts and disposal of off cuts. Under no circumstances can the off cuts be disposed of by burning 4) If, despite the information provided here you are still unhappy or wary of the use of CCA treated timber or have or know of a child who has a particular sensitivity to CCA treated timber DO NOT USE IT, use ACQ, LOSP or Tanalith E- where available). The main concern with CCA is that it contains arsenic. While not a mutagen, arsenic acts as a carcinogen when ingested at rates above certain tolerable limits. It may initiate skin and liver cancers. The safe or tolerable amounts of arsenic that can be ingested by humans have been accurately determined because, unlike most other pesticides, arsenic occurs naturally and can be found in relatively high levels in the drinking water of some towns in Bangladesh, Japan, Argentina and Taiwan. Extensive research has shown that arsenic is safe or tolerable to ingest at rates below two µg/kg of body weight per day (World Health Organisation limit), or three µg/kg of body weight per day (Food Standards Australia limit). Arsenic is the 20th most common element on earth, so the ability for animal life to cope with some level of arsenic is to be expected. Arsenic occurs naturally in Australian soil at concentrations between 0.2 and 50 parts per million (ppm, equal to mg/kg), with an average of five to six ppm. Copper chromium arsenic (CCA) is Australia's most widely used wood preservative. It has been used safely in Australia for 50 years and some 120 treatment plants are currently operating around the country. During CCA treatment, timber is impregnated with the preservative solution using controlled vacuum/pressure processes The arsenic used in CCA is in a form (arsenate or pentavalent arsenic) that is five to ten times less toxic than the most toxic form, arsenite (trivalent arsenic). Fixation modifies the arsenate into metal-metal complexes and organo-complexes with wood. Ingestion studies with animals have shown that this greatly reduces its mammalian toxicity. The fixation process ensures that virtually all the CCA becomes chemically bonded within the wood structure. Since March 2006 producers have been obliged to ensure that the product is adequately fixed before dispatching it from their sites.
The majority of the CCA fixed within timber remains there over its lifetime of service. If it did not, the wood would rot and fail in much less than the 30 - 50 year period for which it is often guaranteed. However, a small amount of leaching inevitably occurs. This can show up in small rises in arsenic levels in the soil close to posts and poles. Studies have found levels return to normal within about 100 mm of posts and 150 - 200 mm of poles or decking. A number of studies have shown that CCA is not absorbed into above-ground food crops such as grapes xxiv, tomatoes and cucumbers. There are, however, some reports of a slight increase in arsenic content in root crops such as carrots and beets grown against treated timber, although the arsenic is in a safe organic form and most of it is removed with peeling. Any concern can be eliminated by growing these vegetables more than 100 mm from treated timber garden edgings or by lining the edgings with plastic. Painting sawn CCA-treated timber has long been recommended as a way of reducing warping and checking and will also reduce dislodgeable arsenic from the timber surface. Oils, stains and clear finishes are often not particularly durable coatings, so that arsenic may still dislodge from the coated timbers. The more durable exterior coloured (opaque) paints reduce levels of dislodgeable arsenic more significantly xxv xxvi. In Australia, CCA preservatives are regulated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA implemented a number of restrictions on CCA that became effective in March 2006. The main implementation affecting the public is that CCA is no longer used to treat timber for structures where there is frequent and intimate contact, such as playground equipment, picnic tables, handrails, decking boards, garden furniture and exterior seating. A review by ERMA in New Zealand xxvii did not find increased health risks from using CCA-treated timber. Nevertheless, the APVMA felt that more studies were needed to support the continued use of a potential carcinogen in high human contact applications and that without those studies it should be restricted. An important question, following the APVMA decision to restrict CCA for certain uses, is whether to retain existing CCA-treated timber structures, especially playgrounds. Ultimately, this will be an individual's or organisation's decision. Credible research to date suggests that arsenic ingestion from handling CCA-treated timber occurs at well below tolerable levels if the precautions mentioned above are followed. You therefore need to make your own informed decisions, and not necessarily believe alarmist claims. Note that the USA EPA in its announcement to restrict CCA stated: 'EPA has not concluded that CCA-treated wood poses unreasonable risks to the public for existing CCA-treated wood being used around or near their homes or from wood that remains available in stores. EPA does not believe there is any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated structures, including decks or playground equipment. EPA is not recommending that existing structures or surrounding soils be removed or replaced.' Similar statements in Australia can be found from EnHealth Council xxviii and Better Health Victoria xxix. One study by CSIRO in some local kindergartens found that playground equipment would not pose a health risk due to arsenic xxx. This suggestion was further supported by a comprehensive study in Canada of dislodgeable arsenic levels on the hands of children, which were lower than anticipated in the APVMA review xxxi. ACQ - Alkaline Copper Quaternary is a relatively new treatment which is a water based solution (copper, Didecyldimethylammonium chloride and water) which uses copper to protect against rot and fungal attack and Ammonium Quaternary as a pesticide. ACQ treated timber possesses most of the same qualities as CCA timber in that it can be used in ground applications. It is considered a very safe and very effective product with no risk to humans. At the moment it is approximately 25% more expensive than the CCA and can be sometimes difficult to source. The Osmoses company produces both ACQ and LOSP sealants xxxii . LOSP - Light Organic Solvent Preservative is a treatment that is usually a white spirit based solvent which contains copper naphthenates and synthetic pyrethroids as well as other chemicals to provide protection from insects and decay. As an alternative to CCA and ACQ treated timber it is generally more expensive and far less effective. LOSP treated pine is usually machined to the required lengths and shapes before the treatment is applied. As a result of this less pressure is used in the treatment process and a little less penetration of solution is achieved. This does not affect the longevity of the timber, however it means that LOSP timber must not go in ground and if the timber is cut the cut ends must be resealed with a suitable sealant. Most LOSP treated pine must be painted to maintain its warranty, without painting LOSP treated timbers may only last a few years. NB: The exact type of LOSP
treatment will determine its lifespan, and if it has to be over painted. Always request from your supplier written details of painting requirements for any LOSP products. Additionally, due to the solvents in LOSP products they are generally more flammable. LOSP timber is frequently coated with a protective oil based primer which is usually pink. This primer is applied to stabilise and protect timber during storage and installation, not as a paint primer. As a result it is recommended that LOSP primed timber be sanded down to remove the primer before painting. Unprimed LOSP timber is natural in its appearance as the solution used is clear and hence causes no discolouration of the timber. Like CCA the timber will weather and discolour if not stained or painted. Tanalith E or Copper Azole - is a new water borne solution which again uses copper as a fungicide and azole as a pesticide, it can be used in in ground applications and has most of the same properties as CCA treated timber. Water-based preservatives like copper azole leave wood with a clean, paintable surface after they dry. There are two types of Copper Azole: A (CBA-A), and B (CA-B). Copper azole wood preservative is used for treating a variety of softwood species including southern pine, red pine, ponderosa pine, hem-fir and Douglas fir. • CBA-A: Copper Boron Azole type A was standardized by the American Wood-Preservers' Association (AWPA)1 in 1995 and contains the following ingredients: copper (49%), boron as boric acid (49%), and azole as tebuconazole (2%). Wood treated with CBA-A has a greenish-brown colour and little or no odour. The use of CBA-A has been generally supplanted by the newer CA-B product. • CA-B: Copper Azole type B was standardized by the AWPA in 2002 and is composed of copper (96.1%) and azole as tebuconazole (3.9%). Wood treated with CA-B has a greenish-brown colour and little or no odour. CA-B is in widespread use throughout the United States and Canada. Koppers xxxiii produce a product called Tanalised Ecowood which meets US EPA and European Union standards for use in playgrounds.
Appendix H – Gardening safety Gardening tasks Some gardening tasks outlined below are simple (e.g. raking a garden bed, watering plants) and you can complete them yourself or with a group of eager junior helpers. They require minimal or no instruction, usually do not require specialised equipment and pose no safety risks. More specific gardening tasks (e.g. spreading sugar cane (SC) mulch on a garden bed, re-potting or planting new plants) may require a level of prior preparation/organisation, assessment of any possible risks as well as safety equipment (e.g. masks for asthmatic children who may react to SC mulch/potting mix, child sized gardening equipment or an outdoor bench at child height) Physically complex and detailed gardening tasks (e.g. trimming trees or bushes, irrigation maintenance) should only be undertaken by adults, preferably under the supervision of a nominated organizer who has either training, knowledge and or experience in the tasks to be undertaken. Specialised maintenance tasks (e.g. anything involving the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, motorised or power equipment, plumbing, irrigation) should only be undertaken by individuals who have been specifically trained and hold a current qualification that allows them to carry out the task with no risk to themselves, you, your peers, children in your care or your playspace. Ideally they should hold public and personal liability insurance and certification from the relevant State or Federal work standards compliance regulator. Accidents and injuries can result from misuse of the gardening environment equipment and materials. Where an item or activity within the garden is linked to a number of incidents/accidents, alteration of the item or activity might be required. To monitor incident/accident trends, records should include details of location and associated item or activity. Occupational Health and Safety Personal and Protection Equipment (PPE) Although, gardening is fun and relaxing, maintaining a playspace, like any activity has hazards. Any and all can be eliminated with the appropriate PPE (for you and any young helpers) and by following the work safety procedures detailed below; Personal protective equipment (PPE) Safety glasses should be used to shield your eyes from any sharp objects, dust or chemical drift. Gloves keep your hands clean but can also save you from insect bites, splinters, blisters and exposure to hazardous chemical and organic products. Masks ensure that you do not breathe in any dust, spores or chemical or organic products. Stout footwear will protect against dropped tools, sharp sticks, insects and animals. A hard hat is a must when using power tools or assisting someone who is working above you. Ear muffs/Defenders are essential when using any motorised or power tools. An appropriate hat and long sleeves/trousers should be worn for sun protection Garden maintenance work safety procedures Avoid sunburn and dehydration - Follow the 5 actions to be Sun Smart: Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek (shade), and Slide (on sunnies). Wear a hat to avoid sunburn. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you sunburn easily, consider wearing lightweight light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants. Use plenty of sunscreen to avoid sunburn (most people don’t use enough cream for it to be truly effective. It’s recommended to use 1 tablespoon per limb xxxiv). Drink lots of ﬂuids, at least a cup every half hour when it’s really hot. Some common products increase sun sensitivity xxxv; cosmetics with alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) make you more sensitive to the sun and its aging effects. Some medications do too, like tetracycline antibiotics, sulfonamides such as Bactrim, non-steroidal anti-inﬂammatories like Ibuprofen, some ﬂuoroquinolones xxxvi. (If you are taking medication, ask your pharmacist). Using hand tools – To you using hand tools may seem like common sense, however not everyone may share your level of knowledge or competence. If you have helpers assisting you take the time to show them how to use each tool safely and follow up with some brief visits to ensure they are performing the task properly. If you are taking more than one or two tools into the garden carry them into the garden in a wheelbarrow, bucket or a basket – it’s safer for your back and stops people tripping over them.
Before using a spade, garden fork, rake or other long handled tool, look to make sure there is nobody behind or beside you so that you don’t hit them with the tool. When you have finished using a garden tool place it out of the way of people. Never lay a tool across a path or place it in long grass where it is hidden and where people could trip over it. Lean a garden rake or long handled tool against something when you put it aside. If you have to lay it down, place it away from where people might walk. Place it with the pointed tangs or blade on the ground, not pointing up. Alternatively, when putting a garden spade, shovel or fork aside, push it into the soil so that it remains upright and visible. Carry tools such as spades, garden forks and rakes in your hand rather than over the shoulder. Carried on the shoulder, it is easy to hit someone accidentally if you turn around and they are close by. Before you use cutting tools visually check them to ensure they are in good working order. Keep all cutting tools sharp so that you do not need to use extra force. If using a pruning knife, use a knife with a locking blade, not a pen-knife that can close on your ﬁnger. Always cut away from yourself and hold the tool in your stronger hand. Clean all sap off cutting tools, the sap will increase friction if allowed to dry. When using secateurs, loppers or extendable tree loppers lock them when not in use. Use the right tool for the job. Do not twist pruning instruments while cutting and don’t try to cut branches that are too large. If you are doing a repetitive task, stop to rest your hands occasionally or vary the job with something else. Keep all pruning instruments clean (use bleach to prevent the spread of disease). Power tools - You may choose to use power tools such as electric blowers or hedgers in your maintenance work. Before using any tool ensure that you have read its instruction manual and are fully aware of its functions and safety protocols. Before each use, inspect tools, power cords, and electrical ﬁttings for damage, wear or exposed wiring. If you find any defect or fault tag it for repair and do not use it. When using any kind of power tool, be very careful that nothing gets caught in moving parts. Avoid wearing jewellery such as bracelets and rings. Tie back long hair, and keep clothing, ﬁngers and toes away from machinery. Always unplug tools when they are not in use. Pull on the plug, not the cord. Don’t pull out a plug when your hands are wet or when you are touching metal. Secure electrical extension cords to prevent them becoming tripping hazards. Know where the breakers and fuse boxes are located in case of an emergency, and make sure that nothing is blocking access to them. Check to see if all circuit breakers and fuse boxes are labelled so you can tell which appliances or plugs they feed. Always use ladders made of wood or other non-conductive materials when working with or near electricity such as overhead power lines and always use a two-pronged extension cord. Using ladders - Step ladders and extension ladders are commonly used in garden maintenance. You need to ensure that the appropriate ladder is available and used for the speciﬁc tasks that you may want to perform. When using any ladder ensure you place it on a ﬁrm level surface. Make sure the areas around the base and the top of the ladder are clear of obstructions. Avoid contact with wiring or electrical cords, especially if you are using a metal ladder. Try to position the ladder away from walkways to prevent collisions. Ensure that the ladder rungs are free of oil, grease or other slippery substances, and wear slip resistant footwear. Climb with both hands. If you need to take something up, have someone pass it to you from below. When you are on the ladder, keep your centre of gravity between the side rails, especially if you need to carry materials. Regular inspection of ladders should be included as part of regular safety inspections and broken ladders need to be identiﬁed and repaired as soon as possible. Take a close look at the ladder before you use it to ensure that no parts are broken, cracked or missing. When using step-ladders ensure that the spreaders are engaged and properly locked in place before climbing. Don’t climb past the second rung from the top (Never use the top two steps of a step ladder) and if possible, brace yourself with your free hand. When using extension ladders use the “4 to 1” rule: The ladder base should be 1 unit out from a wall for every 4 units up and never climb past the third rung from the top. Never lean the ladder against moveable objects. Make sure that the safety feet are intact and undamaged. Keep three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Always have a “spotter” to support the ladder from the bottom. If you must place the ladder in front of a gate, block the gate or block off the feet of the ladder so they can’t move. Lifting and handling materials - When lifting something heavy, bend your knees and crouch down, then lift it by straightening your legs, and get assistance if you think it might be too heavy. To avoid back injury, do not bend over to pick up something that is heavy. Whenever possible, avoid manually lifting and carrying awkward or heavy objects. Instead, use mechanical devices such wheelbarrow.
Before you lift something, take a few moments to plan it out – distribute your weight evenly, place your feet apart for good balance, bend your knees so that the stronger muscles in your legs take most of the load, balance the load you are carrying between both hands, minimize the distance you need to reach when picking up the object, get a good grip, use your hands, not just your ﬁngers, hold the object as close to your body as possible, between your knees and shoulders , lift smoothly and slowly, don’t twist your back, pivot your feet if you need to turn while carrying something. When performing repetitive lifts stop to stretch and rest your back every so often or switch tasks now and then to use different muscles. Know your strength. Don’t overdo it. If it makes sense, try to work with a partner to share the load. But if you do, communicate clearly so that your partner knows what movements to expect. Placing equipment/ materials- Designate an area of the garden for placing materials and equipment. Place them so that they are unlikely to fall over or spill. Place heavier materials close to the ground and lighter materials on top of these. Stack materials neatly so that they are easily accessible and out of the way of paths and places where people walk. Preventing slips and trips - Slipping and falling in the garden can be avoided if appropriate attire is worn and potential hazards are dealt with immediately. Ensure you and anyone assisting you is wearing non-slip footwear that ﬁts properly, is clean free from oil and grease. Make sure pathways are free of clutter any obstacle is moved as soon as you’re aware of it. When watering make sure the hose lies ﬂat without loops or curls. Prevent moss from building up on stairs and outdoor surfaces Care with organic chemicals - The use of organic controls for garden pest and plant disease management should be done under the guidance of a gardener or adviser who has experience and is knowledgeable of the precautions to be taken in production, handling and application, and use chemicals at the correct concentration. It is essential and in some states the law to put up a pesticide spray notice if you plan to use pesticides or herbicides. Care with creatures - It’s a fact of nature that flowers tend to attract insects such as bees and wasps. However bees and wasps rarely sting unless they are aggravated. To lessen the likelihood of bees or wasps being attracted to you avoid the use of perfumes, colognes or overly scented soaps and do not wear brightly coloured, patterned clothing if you are going into an area where there are likely to be bees or wasps. Stay calm if a bee or wasp lands on you, it will eventually leave of its own accord. If you don’t want to wait for it to leave, slowly and gently brush it away. Do not try to pick up bugs, spiders and other creatures you come across. They might defend themselves by biting, stinging or scratching. Look before lifting buckets, watering cans, boxes and other things, insects sometimes nest in them. WEAR GLOVES when gardening.
From left: Always use appropriate P.P.E., Wheelbarrows make it easier to carry multiple tools, Power tools should only be used by qualified or experienced individuals
i Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association2010;110(10):1477–1484.
ii Neural Correlates of Food Addiction, Ashley N. Gearhardt, MS, MPhil; Sonja Yokum, PhD; Patrick T. Orr, MS, MPhil; Eric Stice, PhD; William R. Corbin, PhD; Kelly D. Brownell, PhD , Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(8):808-816. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.32 iii Wells, N.M. “At Home with Nature: Effects of ‘Greenness’ on Children’s Cognitive functioning.” Environment and Behaviour. Vol. 32, No. 6, 775-795 iv Moore, Robin C. Natural Learning: The Life of an Environmental Schoolyard. Berkeley: MIG Communications, 1997 v Moore, R. & Wong, H. (1997). Natural Learning: Rediscovering Nature's Way of Teaching. Berkeley, CA MIG Communications. vi Moore, R. & Wong, H. (1997). Natural Learning: Rediscovering Nature's Way of Teaching. Berkeley, CA MIG Communications. vii vii Lou, Richard, Last Child in the woods, (2005) P290, Algonquin Books, US viii viii Lou, Richard, Last Child in the woods, (2005) P290, Algonquin Books, US ix Lou, Richard, Last Child in the woods, (2005) P290, Algonquin Books, US x Lou, Richard, Last Child in the woods, (2005) P290, Algonquin Books, US xi Lou, Richard, Last Child in the woods, (2005) P290, Algonquin Books, US xii http://www.jri.org.uk/brief/biodiversity.htm xiii http://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant/nutrient.htm xiv Dean, Esther, Growing without digging, (1977), Harper Row (Australia) xv http://www.nphp.gov.au/enhealth/council/pubs/pdf/rainwater_tanks.pdf xvi http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/ xvii http://www.twigz.com.au/home xviii Blazey, Clive, All About Tomatoes; and potatoes, peppers and other relatives, (2011), Diggers (Australia) xix According to USDA, "A 'rest time' is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens." xx Cookson LJ. 2005. Arsenic content of soil and wood chip fines in three kindergartens Ensis Technical Report No. 151, 16 pp. xxi Kwon E, Zhang H, Wang Z, Jhangri G, La X, Fok N, Gabos S, Li XF, Le X. 2004. Arsenic on the hands of children after playing in playgrounds. Environmental Health Perspectives 112: 1375-1380. xxii UK H&SE Guidance: Copper, Chrome and Arsenic Treated Timber in Children's Playgrounds. Local Authority Circular 47/18, 2004. xxiii http://www.csiro.au/resources/CCATreatedTimber.html xxiv Levi MP, Huisingh D, Nesbit WB. 1974. Uptake by grape plants of preservatives from pressure-treated posts not detected. Forest Products J. 24: 97-98. xxv Lebow S, Foster D, Lebow P. 2004. Rate of CCA leaching from commercially treated decking. Forest Products J. 54: 81-88. xxvi Stilwell DE and Musante CL. 2004. Effect of Coatings on CCA Leaching From Wood in a Soil Environment. In: pre-conference proceedings, Environmental impacts of preservative-treated wood. Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Gainesville, Florida, pp 113-123. xxvii Read D. 2003. Report on Copper Chromium and Arsenic(CCA) Treated Timber Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). xxviii EnHealth. 2005. enHealth Council position on copper chrome arsenate (CCA) treated timber products xxix Better Health. 2005. Copper chrome arsenic (CCA) treated timber xxx Cookson LJ. 2005. Arsenic content of soil and wood chip fines in three kindergartens xxxi Kwon E, Zhang H, Wang Z, Jhangri G, La X, Fok N, Gabos S, Li XF, Le X. 2004. Arsenic on the hands of children after playing in playgrounds. Environmental Health Perspectives 112: 1375-1380 xxxii http://www.osmose.com.au/ xxxiii http://www.koppers.com.au/ArticleDocuments/38/Tan%20E%20FAQ_2.pdf.aspx?Embed=Y
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A comprehensive guide to growing Vegetables.
This guide provides specific information for educators who want to introduce the concepts of the growth and care of edible vegetables to children in their care. The book specifically addresses the introduction of the concepts of vegetation growth, taste, smell and texture, OHS, inclusion ideas, children's tools and participation, Australian climatic planting zones, positioning of plants within your playspace, preparation for planting, planting preferences (in ground plantings versus aboveground bed types), specific information on appropriate vegetables to plant, natural environmentally safe ways to feed and protect your vegetables, harvesting and and finally information about plant and seed suppliers.
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