> Garden Care
Help your garden become a lush paradise using these garden care tips
So you already have a garden. Fantastic! Why not help your garden become even better with a bit of TLC? Give your students the task of caring for your edible or native gardens, turning them into healthy and productive gardens with benefits for your school, your students and our environment.
Looking after your plants will reap long-term rewards, save your school money and save precious water.
How To Do It
Option 1 – Get into the garden
What does looking after your garden involve? Any, several or many of the following options will help your garden to flourish:
Mulching around the base of larger plants and in garden beds will help retain water and keep the soil moist. Good for worms, good for soil, good for plants! Just be aware that some mulching materials (such as pea straw) may contain snail eggs – not ideal for a veggie garden.
Plants get hungry too, especially those in poor soils or pots. Give your plants some food such as fertilizer or manure. Yum yum yum!
Composting food waste to add to your garden is a great way to keep soils healthy, plants happy AND stop your food scraps going to landfill.
Worms love food scraps and gardens love worm wee! Start a worm farm and save the wee to add to your garden, although you will need to dilute it first – 1 part worm wee to 15-20 parts worm wee.
Pests can be a problem and if you want to keep the birds, bugs and kids happy then you probably don’t want to use chemical-based pesticides. Try some natural pest controls instead (LINK TO SEPARATE PDF).
Most plants need friends and some friends are better than others. Good friends help to fight off the pests and help plants grow bigger and better; bad friends mean plants struggle. Sustainable Gardening Australia have a comprehensive list of plants and their best buddies (and enemies). Learn more here.
It sounds awful, doesn’t it? But it’s actually very nice. Green manure crops are crops you plant in your garden for the sole benefit of improving your soil. These are annual fast growing crops, usually a legume combined with a grass, that are grown to build both organic matter and nitrogen levels to improve the soil. You can’t harvest any food or flowers from them but they will improve your next season’s veggie crops. You can buy green manure seeds online or at your nursery.
Don’t forget to water your plants! However, there are plenty of ways to water your plants without blowing the budget. You can water your garden with water left over from painting, water activities and food preparation (such as washing veggies or running the water when filling the sink).
Talk to your plants!
Studies have shown that plants respond positively to happy and encouraging verbal reinforcement, including singing.
Quick tip: Create ‘compost tea’ to feed your garden. Almost fill a plastic garbage bin with weeds. Cover with water and replace the lid. Wait a few weeks for the plants to break down, then dilute the fertilizer 10:1 and use on the garden in the same way as liquid manure.
Option 2 – Celebrate your garden
- Hold an Instagram competition for the best photographed plant from your garden.
- Hold a growing competition – who can grow the most spectacular flowers or the largest, tastiest tomatoes? Use the garden care tips above to help the plants grow.
- Plan and grow a sculptural garden with tunnels (e.g. sunflower tunnels), teepees (e.g beans or peas grown around a bamboo teepee) and towers (e.g. climbing plants on bamboo towers – how high can you go?!)
Quick tip:Talk to your school gardener or maintenance person about adopting a patch of garden. They might also be able to help you with materials, not to mention give some good advice about the condition of the soil or common pests.
Whole school tip
Students of different year levels can be assigned different roles in caring for the garden. For example, some can be responsible for watering, others for mulching, others for applying worm wee, others for checking for pests and applying natural pesticides. Alternatively, different year levels can be assigned different parts of the garden and a competition could be held to see which year level produces the healthiest garden.
What’s Our Impact?
A mature tree absorbs an average of 267kg over its lifetime (30 years). Each year a tree absorbs 8.9kgs of CO2-3 (267kg divided by 30). These savings are based on planting and looking after one tree. All plants benefit the environment. Plant more, save more!
- CO2e (weekly) 0.17
- CO2e (annual) 8.9
- Black balloons (weekly) 3.4
- Black balloons (annual) 178
Mulch stops the top of the soil drying out, keeps the soil moist, and can reduce watering by about 60%. Learn more at the ABC.
Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and home gardens in Asia, and thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica.
Bugs, slugs and snails HATE chilli and garlic! Spray your veggies with a spray made of garlic and chilli and watch the snails, slugs and bugs run!