By Joanne White
Over 50,000 students Australia wide use the new (and free) Australian Organic Schools resources, and as a teacher – and someone who can now call herself a successful gardener – I highly recommend them to anyone who has always wanted to try gardening.
I’m a classroom teacher and member of the Kids Media team that recently revised the Australian Organic Schools website. I was so inspired by the website material that I decided to start my own organic vegetable garden at home.
I’ve always wanted to be a gardener. My mum is an excellent gardener, as was my grandmother and mother-in-law, but everything I planted (except succulents) was doomed. Things were about to change!
Size doesn’t matter
I live with my husband and seven-year-old son in a small, inner city townhouse with a tiny backyard, so I didn’t think a vegetable garden was an option. However, I quickly learnt that space is no barrier. We have a small (approximately 1.5 x 4 metres) raised garden bed along the back fence and I was determined to turn it into an organic oasis.
All about the soil
I started by organising a compost bin and as the compost grew and matured, I turned my attention to the soil. One end of the garden looked beautiful, dark and rich and at the other end it was quite sandy, but after some tests I found it all had a healthy pH of 6.5 and was ready for planting. In spring I rechecked the soil health (it was still good) and added some of my homemade compost.
A winter kick off
It was July when I began planting, so I started with a winter crop of carrots, radishes, spring onion, iceberg lettuce, bok choy, celery, broccoli, strawberries, parsley and coriander. I used a combination of seeds and seedlings and was amazed how it grew over the next few months.
Spring into summer salads
In September, I checked my crop rotation plan and planted new spring crops, including capsicum, cucumber, zucchini, snow peas, chilli, basil and tomato. It was a learning experience, as many of these plants grow differently and the warmer weather will present new challenges. I’m now researching how I can protect the plants from the heat of the Adelaide spring and summer.
I love my gardening adventure and credit the Australian Organic Schools education resources for my success. Even though the whole journey hasn’t been plain sailing (I lost some plants and learnt how much room some plants need to thrive), whenever there is a problem I return to the School Garden units to find inspiration or a solution.
Why not embark on your own gardening adventure with Australian Organic Schools? You will not be disappointed.
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