Time to plant onions, shallots and garlic before Winter
Oniosn, garlic, and shallots should be planted about now for a good crop. They will grow best in compost, but avoid fresh manure. Split the bulb into individual cloves and plant them upright between 1 and 4inches deep; the lighter the soil, the deeper is best to plant them.
Plan ahead - keep soil maintained over Winter for better Spring harvest.
Spring may seem a long way off yet, but if you are hoping for a bumper crop of fruit or veg, or plants, next Spring, then it is essential to keep your soil well maintained through the Winter months, to help it help prevent it suffering being waterlogged or frozen. Dig it and fork it over on a regular basis, removing weeds and adding your prefered compost. This will not only help provide a moisture and food reserve, but also improve soil structure. Remember, the better you keep your soil maintained over Winter, the better chance you have at a wonderful crop next year.
Mini-beasts need homes, too!
Mini-beasts like unkept, dark areas to inhabit, so try leaving patch of grass uncut, a leaf pile for them, or dedicate an area of your garden border for them. This will give the creatures an environment to live, feed and breed through the Winter, as well as giving birds somewhere to forage, keeping your garden's natural food chain going.
Use a rake, keep your lawn awake
As well as sometimes looking untidy, thick pilings of leaves on your garden lawn can suffocate the grass, which will make it look patchy and brown come the return of better weather. Try to set aside 5 minutes every couple of days to rake away leaf falls; your lawn will look all the better for it in the long term.
Don't throw away your bonfire leftovers!
Guy Fawkes Night may be over for another year, but don't let any left over logs, leaves or branches go to waste - they can still provide a valuable home for hedgehogs, mice, frogs and toads, and many insects and mini-beasts. Pile any such leftovers in a selected area of your garden - a damp, fairly dark or shaded corner is a good bet - maybe beside or behind your garden shed if you have one. As well as getting your leftover garden cuttings out of the way, they also provide a good Winter home for such animals and insects.
Where can we get a polytunnel from?
All our polytunnels are supplied by First Tunnels, the tunnels are easy to assemble and the staff are very friendly and helpful on the phone if you do get stuck! We tend to go for their timber base rail system as it saves a lot of digging, I also order their irrigation system as this is very a reasonably priced kit to get started with. For more information please have a look at their website www.first-tunnels.co.uk
Our polytunnel is being damaged by foxes. What can we do?
If you notice any holes or scratch marks in the side of your polytunnel it is worth acting as quickly as you can as once the foxes have moved in it can be difficult to get rid of them. You can try using scented, motion activated or noise based deterrents. A couple of schools have experienced trouble with foxes and are currently testing out a number of solutions, so check back for an update!
There are a couple of website we have found useful in our research that you can look at if you need any more information: www.foxolutions.co.uk and www.foxproject.org.uk
Who is eligible to join the Love Local Food programme?
The programme is open to schools in Hillingdon, Hounslow and Slough. The programme is suitable for both primary and secondary schools and will be tailored to suit individual school needs.
1 Space available
We still have one space available for 2011-12 and we will be recruiting 11 schools to start the programme in September 2012.
Unfortunately we are unable to accept applications from private schools or schools outside Hillingdon, Houndslow or Slough however Groundwork Thames Valley have many other outdoor learning programmes that you may be interested in. Please contact us for further details.
We do not have any green space on campus, can we still take part?
One of the aims of the project is to demonstrate to pupils that it is possible to grow and to use local food even if you do not have a garden.
Container gardens are a low maintenance solution that can be squeezed into the smallest of spaces.
Alternatively you could focus on the cooking aspect of project and create and sell a branded product using locally sourced ingredients.
How much work is actually going to be involved?
As any gardener knows keeping on top of an allotment is a big commitment but the idea of the Love Local Food project is to get as many people involved as possible to spread the load
We ask that the school designate a lead teacher to coordinate the project and we estimate that this represents a 5 day commitment over the year. Adopting a whole school approach and embedding the use of the growing space into the curriculum means that most of the day to day work will be done by the pupils.
In addition the community aspect of the programme should provide you with plenty of volunteers to help out with other duties.