Resources needed for starting a garden (enough for 1 class):
- Organic seeds.
- 30 hand trowels and forks
- 30 pairs of gloves
- 12 short handled forks and spades (plus optional 4 long handled shovels, 2 rakes, 2 hoes)
- 6 secateurs (plus optional 2 loppers)
- 1 wheelbarrow (or more)
- 4 watering cans (plus optional hose and hose-tap connections)
- Selection of pots and trays (recycle/reuse when possible)
- Lollipop sticks or plant labels
- Twine (String on a Stick)
- Willow/bamboo for plant supports (grow them if possible)
- Compost bin (see Composting support sheet)
- First aid kit
- Raised bed materials (see Making Raised Beds support sheet)
- Organic slug pellets
- Chicken manure
- Envirofleece for winter protection
- Netting for protection against pests and predators.
Funding the garden
It is possible to start a garden without any extra funding but buying some tools will speed the process up. Approach the parents' committee for some start up money; source free materials through parents / donations / fundraising and the wider community. Most materials will be available from the local garden centre but here is a list of recycled materials available for free (also see community involvement support sheet):
- Car or tractor tyres for planting.
- Yogurt pots or milk cartons for seeds and trees.
- Toilet roll inserts for seeds/beans (can be planted directly in the ground).
- Old carpet to mulch beds (see planting outside support sheet).
- Old net curtains for plant protection.
- Cardboard to mulch beds.
- Plastic bottles for plant protection.
Managing the Class Outside
One of the first steps to practical gardening is to create a set of garden rules with the children which can be hung in the classroom and out in the garden/shed if possible. Keep them short, five to six rules maximum. The children should be consulted in the drawing-up of the rules (they'll remember them better!) and the teachers and parents must have input too. Draw attention to the rules at the beginning of each session.Sample Garden Rules:
- This is still a classroom!
- Listen to the teacher when he / she is talking.
- Care and respect for all living creatures, including your class mates!
Managing the class in the outdoor environment can be challenging as being outdoors is associated with a high burst of energy. This can be harnessed by having a grounding activity at the beginning and end of the session.Here are some ideas:
- Bring the group on a short walk around the garden, notice any changes since the last time, what is growing at the moment.
- Request a minute's quietness - what can you hear?
- Set a practical task, e.g. to collect a natural object like a smooth stone, feather, flowers or leaves.
As children go out regularly they will become used to being in the outdoor classroom and they can start taking certain responsibilities (under supervision) for themselves such as getting keys for the shed, taking out tools and watering plants.