Little Green Fingers……….Gospel Oak school’s gardening club

Week 21: Chitting Potatoes
January 30, 2009, 3:06 pm
Filed under: Various | Tags:
Setting out the potatoes

Setting out the potatoes

Careful pronunciation needed this week as Amanda and I talked to the children about how to chit potatoes!

We have loads of seed potatoes, Rocket, Maris Bard and Premiere as the year 1 classes are going to be growing them as well.

The children were amazed at the size of the seeds, having trouble understanding that they weren’t actually potatoes. A few pictures helped them to understand the process of growing them and we talked about the need for them to be kept in the dark.

Then we got busy setting them out in trays – some of them sprouting already, and put them into a coolish lightish place till they are ready.


Week 20: Tomatoes
January 23, 2009, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Planting | Tags:
2 seeds per pot

2 seeds per pot

Yes, very early but the race is on to get them ready before the summer holidays. One of the problems of gardening in school is not having the luxury of picking things in summer, they have to either be ready before school ends or able to survive without anyone to water them over the break. Hence the reason for planting them so early!

They are without doubt, my favourite vegetable to grow. I love watching them go from spindly little seedlings to huge plants and the children love picking them off and eating with without any cooking involved!

This year we are trying three different varieties. Good old reliable Gardeners Delight, Golden Sunrise, which I grew successfully at home last year and Tumbling Toms to go at the front of the school. We have abandoned Money Maker as we find them really bland. Our Year 1 children will also grow tomatoes at the front of their classrooms.

Planted and labelled up with freezing fingers, they will stay on the window sill inside until the greenhouse warms up.

Seeds in the warm

Seeds in the warm

Week 19: Little Shed of Horrors!
January 16, 2009, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Shed


There was no leaving it any longer. The job that we had been putting off for weeks waiting till the weather less cold /less wet/ less anything!

It was time to tidy the shed. Despite doing this job every year, the state it gets in is really unbelievable (see the photo evidence above!) A combination of never having enough time and some things not having a place meant that most things just got thrown in over the year.

So, we dragged everything out and I used my over the top organisational skills to sort and tidy. Vince, Amanda, Ann and Imogen worked hard on cleaning pots, getting rid of rubbish and sorting out tools. The children got stuck in and after a pretty short time we had our shed looking like this (see below)

Now, woe betides anyone who puts something back in the wrong place!



Week 18: Too cold!
January 15, 2009, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Various
Seed Packets

Seed Packets

Last Friday at gardening club and it was just too cold to be outside. A quick check in the garden and we could see that our broad beans were starting to come up and our onions were showing signs of life. In the greenhouse, the salad is still going strong (ready to eat soon) and the daffodils and hyacinths are off! That was enough though! Inside for everyone – into the warm where we finished off our seed packets that we started before Christmas.

We had each chosen our favourite vegetable and designed a seed packet based on the original – we made them really bright and colourful and the older children included planting instructions.

We think some look better than the originals!

Meet Vince!
January 6, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Volunteers
Vince, our expert volunteer!

Vince, our expert volunteer!

There is no way that gardening club could run without our fantastic volunteers who help out each week. They deserve a big mention so I have asked each one to tell us a bit about themselves…starting us off is Vince!

I have been gardening on Branch Hill Allotments for about fourteen years now.  We have about 32 allotments which we rent individually from Camden Council.  It is a lovely space at the top of Hampstead, and near to the Heath, on which to garden. We grow vegetables individually and look after the common parts together.  For general matters, we have formed an Association, (a bit like the gardening club!) of which I have been Secretary and am now Chairman.


This is the time of the year when I plan what to grow and whereabouts on the allotment plot and when.  Generally onion sets and broad beans go in first sometimes as early as November but if not in February; these will be followed by potatoes and peas in early March and then spinach and chard and rocket for salads later in the same month.  Parsnips and leeks for the winter go in at about the same time or a little later. More plantings are made in April of all of these vegetables so that there is hopefully a supply of all of them for quite a few months from June.  The last crops to be planted are French and runner beans from the middle of May.  It is nice when all the vegetables are planted and just need looking after with watering and nets to keep the birds off and beer traps to stop the greedy slugs.


The allotment gardeners consider themselves lucky to have their plots and are pleased to share the space with the children of Gospel Oak Primary School when they visit with their teachers and the gardening club helpers as they are always interested in what’s growing and how they can help look after the vegetables.


Gospel Oak pupils have been coming to the allotments for about six years now and have been photographed helping and learning about growing there by Howard Sooley of the Observer.  Some of the pictures are I think on the web site.  We look forward to visits this year.



Vince Sudbery


Branch Hill Gardening Club Member

Chair Branch Hill Allotments Association


Jan 5 09