Saturday, 24 July 2010

Connecting parents and kids through gardening

Last week I visited my friend's community garden plot with my 2 year old daughter. My friend also has a 2 year old - in fact we met in our mums and bubs group!

IMG_1644The plot is great and my friend is just getting started; mulching, composting and planting some winter broad beans and peas. Her son is also helping out and has his own little section of the plot. As we planted and raked, we talked about meeting others at the community garden and the space itself having lots of potential to set up small groups and workshops - especially a kids space!

IMG_1645We asked ourselves, what about a community garden playgroup to bring kids and parents together? There's such a thing elsewhere, like Macedon for example,

Some of us have small children who now, after three years of going to ‘veggie club’, know each other and really look forward to gardening. My four year old is so keen if I mention I am going to do some gardening he gets very excited.
Also, the Braybrook Community Gardens and Playgroup Victoria run a permaculture set up too, which looks awesome!

I did a bit of a search for such things around Canberra but so far, I can't find anything online. Is there such a thing? Does anyone know of a community garden space that playgroups may use or parent groups use as a meeting place? We'd love to hear about your set up if so!

There's been some great moves in setting up kitchen gardens as part of the curriculum in primary schools - Stephanie Alexander's program is very popular, for example. But what of younger kids and their parents?

Wouldn't it be great to hook in to both a parents group AND a shared gardening experience?

Designing a vertical garden for small spaces

I want to try out some vertical garden techniques in our backyard, to make more use of some of the precious sunny spots, especially behind our garage (the back of which faces north). So far, we have really only made use of trellises for peas and beans and corn stalks to support beans and the like - but there is certainly more we can do!

Some of the resources I've found so far make use of trellises, which is a great idea, but I'm kind of looking for something that's more like the vertical garden wall concept that will suit non-climbing plants too.

Here's what I had in mind:

1. Fill a hessian bag with composted soil and water crystals.
2. Stake the bag through the middle and also wrap with chicken wire to give the bag itself some structure and longevity.
3. Stand the bag next to the shed wall and sceure witht he stake and some wire ties (this should stop it tumbling into the garden bed itself).
4. Soak the bag through ready for planting!

This part of our garden is very narrow so the idea of growing "up" means we can hopefully produce more in the small space. The one concern is the amount of reflective heat from the garage wall (being metal), but I'm hoping that the soil/compost filled bag will act as its own insulation to a degree.

It's an experiment, so we'll see how we go! For now, here's another system you could try, from Instructables - very neat idea!


Now to think about suitable plants! Hmm, maybe herbs like coriander and parsley and some Chard, lettuces, strawberries, and more!