planting stuff at the wrong time

I've been given a project to do at work involving kids growing veggies on an allotment,

they would like us to start planting immediately and the project runs out of money at the end of the financial year (April). - stupid timings for growing I know!

the problem that I have is there is no polytunnel or green house on site (or even a cold frame), so I can't even start sowing early in greenhouse/polytunnel.

the site is totally empty and we are not allowed anything perennial (like trees and fruit bushes)

Can anyone think of anything I can plant/sow with kids in January and February, it would have to be in the ground in those months or at least in modules that I would have to take home and look after.

I am based in the north of North Yorkshire and currently having nightmares about this project!!



  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,367

    What a silly way to go about things - I imagine a non-gardener thought it up?

    Assuming that things don't also have to be ready for harvesting before April image you could put some garlic in and perhaps broad beans. You might get away with peas if the site has some shelter or you could sow these in pots to take home in the coldest weather (or school windowsill) & transplant them to the ground in a few weeks time. The kids would probably enjoy pea shoots as well as any peas that eventually materialise.

    Some salad crops might be ok to start if the ground can be warmed up first with black plastic & these could also start off in modules if there is a windowsill free in the school. How about homemade cloches out of old piping & plastic - can't any teachers or parents be roped in to help you out with old bits and pieces?

    If any parents / teachers grow strawberries perhaps they have some rooted runners which could be used to start a strawberry bed

    I'm sure more ideas will be along shortly...

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Lupin 1Lupin 1 Posts: 8,916

    As Topbird says how silly for you to have to achieve that at this time of year.  

    Would the project let you spend on preparation mini poly tunnels & cloches as TB suggested so you could sow later ? Maybe funds for a compost bin and kids bring green waste from home. Possibly buy a cheap kit to make paper plant pots in school.

    How do people think you can encourage children to grow things at this time of year image 

    Will you have any funding after April ? Or is it a PR project by some bod who has a bit left in the budget. Any chance of the funding being ring fenced for post April ? Or buy something now that will be delivered when weather warms up and at least the cash has been spent.  

    Can't imagine kids wanting to even go outside this time of year.  

    Perennial spinach would grow but you might need to germinate it at home.  

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,087

    Kids need to see things happen to arouse their interest so they learn. 

    Plus if they're learning how to garden they need to learn when and how to do what.

    Mustard and cress, that would grow for them indoors. Sprout a few seeds for salads

  • What a nightmare. You have my sympathy.

  • We keep hearing about how kids are out of touch with the rhythm of the seasons, so they need to learn that Spring, not winter, is the time when seeds germinate. But they could be doing what I like to do at this time of year: making a plan of the plot and deciding what to grow, choosing and ordering seeds, perhaps preparing the soil by adding some compost and clearing weeds, etc. Then by March they could begin the seed sowing once the soil begins to warm up and the days lengthen. Onion sets or shallots are easy and can go in quite early (but not yet!)

    The children will only get discouraged if they sow seeds at the wrong time (which may not even be possible if the ground is frozen). Peas and beans would probably just rot, and it's really too late for garlic. I wouldn't even move strawberry runners at the moment. Somebody somewhere needs to learn a little about horticulture before attempting to start a garden in January!

  • My first thought was broad beans too . Get a cold hardy one like Aquadulce Claudia that  is hardy down to minus 12 and can be sown in January or February. Plant some in your plot, then get the kids equipped with jam jars and kitchen paper, stick beans between paper and glass and add just a little bit of water, enough to dampen the paper. Then they can watch the beans sprouting (without digging them up!)look after their own beans (keep them damp, but not too wet or they'll go mouldy) ,see whose grows best, see whether theirs grow leaves before the ones outside etc. Then they can plant them out with the rest. Cabbage Greyhound can be sown in early spring you could start this one off in modules if there is a suitable windowsill, so they could watch the leaves developing, then put them out a bit later. Come March/April you will be able to plant more things, like carrots, beetroot (Try a leaf as well as a root one) and the first salad leaves. Pak choi is easy in pots - you might need to invest in some organic slug pellets too.

    I would say spend the money on seed first and maybe some fleece for protection and some big pots. I doubt the amount available is very large - would it stretch to one of those mini greenhouses you put against a wall? (You could buy a cheap one as it presumably doesn't have to last more than one year).That would extend your range as with a bit of protection you could have a go at tomatoes and maybe courgettes. Pick a mix of things the kids will enjoy eating(tomato Gardener's delight, baby carrots, mange tout peas as well as ordinary ones and things like courgettes that may be less familiar to some of them) Don't try anything too slow growing or that will need looking after during the summer holidays unless you are able to do that!

     Good luck!

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,962

    The kids could plant cress and these sprouting seeds/beans (mung beans?) on the windowsills. That might pass a month or so.


    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,367

    Further thoughts - could you persuade a large local GC to 'sponsor' the project?

    A couple of sacks of compost, some seeds & maybe a mini greenhouse would set them back less than £50. It would get your project off to a flying start & they might be pleased for the publicity if the local press got to hear about it. Even if they only gave you £5 worth of stuff it's better than nothing. A local allotment group might also help.

    I do also think it's worth roping in parents and teachers. Anyone who is a gardener might have left over seeds or spare cloches they would donate / lend to the cause. Perhaps somebody will have some surplus seedlings (or will sow extra) that can be planted out in a few weeks time. 

    Gardeners always have spare plant pots they can donate & kids can collect & wash yoghurt pots. I quite like the idea of making their own too.

    I also like the idea of using the next couple of weeks for planning & designing the plot - children need to learn that a methodical approach will usually produce the best results.

    I do think you need to explain the problem to whoever has dictated this timetable. Fair enough if the funds are only available till April - you can buy everything you need before then and get the project well underway by then. But you cannot possibly be expected to have a plot ready for harvesting by then. I hope you are not being asked to do that!!!

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    The biggest problem with planting for children is that many things mature during the summer holidays.

    Despite the time of year, you can send children home with a pot, compost and seeds. Herbs, peas and beans, cabbages and some flowers immediately spring to mind.

    Work out before you start who is going to do the watering and weeding. Will the school kitchen accept the produce?
  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 7,001

    When buying seeds you can get them on tape , spring onion , radish ect. , makes planting seeds and germination is excellent , perhaps as other have said buy stuff now to use up the Budget before April

    Kings , Sutton seeds sell these tapes 

    Best of luck whatever you do image

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