Posts tagged ‘newspaper pots’

May 31, 2012

Nasturtium Pesto – Lower Food Miles Version- Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Nasturtium pesto with Spelt Spaghetti

Nasturtium Pesto with Spelt Spaghetti

We have The Garden School at BLOOM this year situated in the “Budding Bloomers” area. We are hoping to inspire future generations of gardeners by teaching children (and many adults) how to make plant pots from newspaper and then sow a nasturtium seed into peat free compost.

Nasturtiums are ornamental and edible. The simplest way to enjoy tem is to tear the leaves and petal into a salad. I love to use nasturtiums as pesto. featured here is our own lower food miles version that ses Irish produced rapeseed oil, irish goas cheese and sunflowers are cheaper than pine nuts, it is delicious.

we have a free nasturtium recipe booklet available for free download from The Garden School website. There are also some videos on how to make the pots!

http://www.thegardenschool.ie/THE_GARDEN_SCHOOL/BLOOM_2012.html

Nasturtium Pesto – Lower Food Miles Version- Recipe

Ingredients:

50g nasturtium leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 green nasturtium fruits

50g sunflower seeds

75g of Kilmallock organic goats cheese

juice of half a lemon

150 ml of olive oil Rapeseed Oil

Some salt, according to taste.

Method:

Throw everything into a food processor. Let it whizz around for a couple of minutes. The mixture should be well blended, a nice green colour.

The mixture can be used straight away, but this quantity will give you enough to fill a couple of small jars. When filling the jars pour a little oil on top of the pesto to seal them and help preserve them. They will keep for a few weeks.

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May 19, 2012

The Garden School at Bloom 2012

by Ciaran Burke

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GARDENING IS FOR EVERYONE, YOUNG AND OLD!
WE ARE EXCITED TO BE INVOLVED WITH THE KIDS ZONE AT BLOOM THIS YEAR.
EVERYONE WHO VISITS BLOOM CAN DROP INTO THE GARDEN SCHOOL AND LEARN HOW TO MAKE A POT FROM NEWSPAPER, FILL IT WITH PEAT FREE, ORGANIC COMPOST AND THEN SOW A NASTURTIUM SEED. THEN YOU CAN BRING YOUR POT AND SEED HOME AND WATCH IT GROW.

I am really excited about going to BLOOM this year, more than usual. We have been involved with Ireland’s premier horticulture and food show since it began. The Garden School has been present on the floral pavilion with a display each year, but this year we will be in the Budding Bloomers section, the Kids Zone.

A few years ago we did something similar to this year’s project, making newspaper pots and sowing nasturium seeds. Everyone who visits BLOOM can make a pot and bring it home filled with compost and complete with sown nasturium seed. And it’s FREE!!!

Bloom takes place in the Phoenix Park on Dublin and will feature 25 show gardens, a floral pavilion with lots of plants for sale, a food village and of course lots of things for kids to do too. This year there is free entry for children. Last year BLOOM attracted 90,000 visitors over the bank holiday weekend in June. This year the show will once again be held on the holiday weekend, from Thursday 31st May until Monday 4th June.

Everyone who makes a pot and sows a seed gets a certificate!

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visit The Garden School Website

Visit Bloom family fun page

April 27, 2012

Gardening with Children – Teaching The Teachers…

by Ciaran Burke
Tools and Equipment- Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Tools and Equipment- Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

One of my earliest memories from my childhood is being with my grandfather when he was digging potatoes in a garden in Wexford. He used to do some gardening work for a neighbour after he had finished his postman’s work for the day. I remember too, shifting wheel barrow loads of gravel with my dad and a neighbour to make a drive way when we w moved to out house in Swords, I was seven, probably more in the way of the two men shovelling than I was of any great assistance. But I did shovel gravel into the barrows and I felt like a man, working alongside the grown ups.

My mother had always dreamed of a garden, that is why we moved to a semi-detached cottage two miles from Swords village in north County Dublin in 1977. The front of the house looked over fields which were planted with barley or potatoes each summer, the fields stretched over the county as far as Naul. Often on an afternoon after school or on a summers day, I helped my parents in garden, digging, cutting long grass with a shears, picking strawberries, getting dirty and collecting ladybirds in a jar.

I am very fortunate to have such good memories from my childhood, of those days spent “working” in the garden, my parents doing what their parents had done with them, passing on the experience of working in the garden together. Unfortunately our lives have got a bit complicated and busier, priorities have changed and there has been a disconnection with our garden and our families. Many parents do not have the knowledge and experience to pass on to their children nor to experience such moments themselves and to pass on simple memories and experiences to their children.

Schools are increasingly taking on the role of teaching gardening to children. Perhaps it is time to recognaise that gardening is a necessary life skill, just as everyone should be able to tie their lace they should be able to grow food for themselves and also experience the beauty of nature; the scent of a bloom, the intricate beauty of pattern on flower petals or watch a butterfly flitter past. There is a healing in the soil, my grandfather always said that the answer is always in the soil. therapeutic both also fun and social.

During the week I gave two workshops to a group of teacher in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. It was a great experience and they learnt a lot too. On the first evening we discussed ways of integrating gardening into the school day; filling a simple vase with flowers or branches from the garden, the way to school or children’s garden. Even a bare branch of a birch tree has a beauty in winter. The world of flowers is filled with stories to enthrall children; Fuchsia magellanica, from the exotic continent of South America, the explorer magellan and his exploits! Not only in the classroom, parents can do this at home too.

I told a story of the seed, told in such a way to create a feeling for a seed that a seed is a living thing that aspires to grow and needs our care.Then we dissected the seed so that the teachers could see what a seed is from a scientific perspective, not that it would be doe by the children. We made newspaper pots and sowed nasturtium seeds. School gardens could be beautiful places for learning and social interaction, not just a collection of raised beds.

On the second evening we made a raised bed outside. Some people used a powered screw driver and a saw for the first time. We dug the soil, filled the bed with top soil, planted plants. I finished the workshop with a hugely positive feeling, that there will be more children enjoying gardening in their school days.

Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Constructing the raised bed

Materials:

  • 3 x 2.4m decking timber 28mm x 130mm
  • 1x 2.4m garden stake  50mm
  • wood screws (6×70) approx 14 screws

Tools

  • Powered screw driver with philips no.2 bit
  • Rubber or wooden mallet
  • wood saw
  • spade
  • shovel
  • wheel barrow
  • measuring tape
  • bamboo canes
  • builders line or twine

Raised beds offer a number of advantages including increased periods of workability as you do not need to walk on the soil in order to cultivate and plant. Raising the beds can also improve drainage, increase the depth of the topsoil and make working easier as you dont have to bend as far.

Old scaffolding planks can be used instead of treated timber, they have the advantage of being untreated and hard woods and the fact that they are being recycled is a good environmental plus. They can also be half the price. The downside is that they are thicker and harder to get the screws in to and they are wider, therefore more soil will be needed in order to fill the beds. Getting good quality topsoil, cheaply can be difficult.

Position beds in sunny situations, shelter from winds is best for vegetable crops. Avoid over hanging branches of established trees. Construct the beds no wider than 1.2m to ensure that the centres of the beds can be reached from the sides. In theory the beds can be as long as you want, but in practice if the beds are too long, gardeners end up taking short cuts across the beds, this means compacting the soil and in a school situation it creates an unnecessary hazard. 2.4 metre beds are a good size.

Start with cutting one of the decking boards in half, this will give you two ends for the bed.

Mark out the area for the beds using twine and bamboo canes. If laying out a number of beds in a geometric pattern ensure that the beds are square, use pythagoras theorem for getting the corners square and making sure adjacent beds are parallel.

Where grass is present the sod (top 5cm of soil can be removed. this can be buried under the topsoil when digging the or placed in a compost heap.

Place the sides and ends of the beds in position and align the corners. Put two scres from the sides into the end boars and two from the end boards into the sides at each corner.

Ciaran hammering in a post - Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Ciaran hammering in a post - Teacher Training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Check that corners are square and then hammer in posts at each corner and on the sides inside the boards half way. Use a wooden or rubber mallet. The posts should go into the soil as much as the height of the sides. Cut the 2.4 m stake into required lengths for this purpose.

Now that the beds have been constructed, it is time to fill them. It always surprises me just how much soil it takes to fill beds. As the beds are being filled, tread over the soil to settle it, natural settlement will occur anyway, but this reduces it.  As you fill in the soil, look out for weed roots and stones which need to be removed.

Teachers around the newly constructed raised bed - Teacher Training Workshop

Teachers around the newly constructed raised bed - Teacher Training Workshop

Some things to watch out for when building beds for schools. Avoid sharp edges on the beds. Look out for any sharp materials that may be in topsoil, things like glass pieces, bits of metal.

Note: 1.2m beds are quite good for adults, perhaps narrower beds of 1 metre would be more suited for young children.

Ciaran and the teachers, teacher training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Ciaran and the teachers, teacher training Workshop, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland

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April 2, 2011

Saturday at Cashel House Gardening Course

by Ciaran Burke
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TABLES SET FOR BREAKFAST

The sun has been shining all day. The weather has been great for us at Cashel House, as usual. There has been days here in the past where we have had coffee and scones laden with home made jam and whipped cream while sitting on the front lawn and basking in sunshine while the rest of the country was under a deluge. Not just once that it has happened but many times. We would have been sitting at the end of an enjoyable day and people would phone home to various parts of the country and get  terrible weather reports while we sat in the sun. There really is something special about Cashel in Connemara.

The ambiance is of laid back elegance, a refinement from a past age. One would not be surprised to meet Ms Marple sipping tea by the fireplace or see Hercule Poirot swinging his walking stick after a vigorous walk through the fine gardens.We woke this morning as the light filled the garden and took a stroll outside. The scent from the Clematic armandii rambling on the front wall was starting to fill the sun filled garden. The white tulips shook gently in the breeze and the cockrel crowed to greet the day.

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CLEMATIS ARMANDII FLOWERING ON FRONT OF CASHEL HOUSE

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FRONT LAWN WITH WHITE TULIPS THIS MORNING

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FRONT DOOR TO THE HOTEL

We had breakfast with the early risers ffrom the garden group. The breakfast menu is superb. Not many hotels can offer trout or kippers or possibly liver for breakfast. I stuck with srambled egg and locally sourced bacon and sausages and enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice. Afterwards I stil found room to enjoy a slice of raisin bread with home made raspberry jam.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

BREAKFAST MENU

After breakfast I set up classroom in the wooden building, admiring the floriferous Kerria japonica ‘Flore Plena’ as I unloaded pots compost, plants and other paraphernalia from the car. When the group had gathered we started the day with a slide presentation before coffee break which was followed by a walk in the garden, admiring magnolia and camellia trees and shrubs on the way. next was lunch, I enjoyed a dressed sorrel salad with parmesan shavings, Irish stew with garlic toastlets and delicious sauteed cabbage flavoured with caraway seeds. This was followed by strawberries and crushed merengue with whipped cream. Finely chopped mint leaves were mixed through the cream giving this dish an extra bit of delight.

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CLEMATIS ARMANDII FLOWERS

After lunch we had a practical session where we sowed seed including Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady and Nasturtium ‘Tom Thumb’. Pricked out seedlings of Lettuce  ‘Cerbiatta’ and made pots from newspaper. We did some soil pH testing and took a walk up to the vegetable garden and nibbled on sorrel leaves, sniffed on lovage and I described how to prune apple trees. By 5 o’clock  all were ready for a cup of tea or coffee which we took by the fire in the drawing room and indulged in scones with jam and cream.

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SOME OF THE GARDEN CLASS POTTING

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POTTING UP THE SEEDLING IN A NEWSPAPER POT

Next we meet for a drink before dinner, more friendly chat, lots of laughter and then face the hard work of choosing from tonight’s great menu.  The garden course is such good value, all meals are included and the full menu is offered. One thing I know for sure, I am having rhubarb pie for dessert.Its seriously good rhubarb pie in Cashel House!

 

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

DINNER MENU SATURDAY 2ND APRIL 2011

INFORMATION ABOUT GARDENING COURSES IN CASHEL HOUSE HOTEL

 

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June 4, 2010

Two late comers make our day

by Ciaran Burke

“Can we make a pot please”, two tired young faces looked up at me. A little boy with his younger sister were followed by a tired mum, apologising for her children. It was 6.15 pm, fifteen minutes past closing. We were busy tidying up and sweeping our stand after a hectic day showing people how to make paper pots and sow seeds.

Their mother explained that they had been looking for our stand all afternoon. Her children had seen us earlier, it was all they had talked about she said. Their young faces were fillled with hope, how could we refuse.

Hanna went to the storage area to bring the seed, I tipped out compost from the bin and got ready to show the children how to make their pots. They paid attention as I showed them, concentrated hard as they rolled and folded the paper and looked so proud of their completed pots.

“Have you sown a seed before” I asked. Shyly the boy said no, his little sister grinned and shook her head. Enthusiastically they grabbed compost in their hands filling their pots, covering themselves and the floor with compost too. They pushed the seeds into their pots and patted them in. Broad smiles and energy now filled their faces, their mum took pictures and laughed. “Can I being this home?” they boy asked, of course we replied. Their mum asked how much she had to pay, and looked shocked and ecstatic when we said that it was for free.

The mum and her two children thanked us and walked away bouncing with hapiness, the children turning to wave goodbye with their wrapped up pots of nasturtium seeds in their hands. I think that there were only two people happier than the three of them at Bloom at that moment, that was us. We smiled widely, our own tiredness forgotten as we finished tidying our stand. Two children had just sown their first seeds. A perfect end to another great day doing Project Nasturtium at Bloom.

In the pictures below: two past student volunteers on our stand demonstrating how to make pots. The vast majority of people who made pots today were adults, but Project Nasturtium is for everyone. Bottom pic: View of a busy Friday afternoon in the Floral Pavilion from the Penninsula Primulas stand.

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