A warm welcome to the Fielding Kitchen Garden Page. Scroll down for a worm's eye view of what we get up to in gardening lessons, and read the children's reports in their garden blog.
Thursday 19th July
Wishing you all a fantastic summer holiday - looking forward to seeing you back in the garden in September.
Three cheers for the marvellous bunch of volunteers who are keeping our plants watered and the chickens fed over the summer. Here's a quick how-to guide for everyone helping out during the holidays, and anyone who would like to volunteer in the future.
We're hoping to have our own water supply soon, in the meantime the hose attaches to the tap outside 3F. It's long enough to reach the fruit bushes along the fence and all the trees in the orchard. Don't feel you have to water the whole garden at once, the plants will be fine if you do it over a couple of days. Push down the red clip on the hose to leave the water on and do other things (like pick up a chicken). If the water stops suddenly, you've probably got a kink in the hose - straighten it out and you're back in business. If it rains, you only need to water inside the polytunnel.
There are two bags just inside the shed. One is chicken pellets - a scoop full is enough for one day. The second bag contains grit - this keeps the eggshells hard and helps the chickens grind up food in their crop. Add a handful of grit to the pellets, then pour the mixture into their feed container inside the chicken run. Our chickens love salad and fruit - especially watermelon - if you have any spare.
You can fill the water container from the hose - tip it upside down, unscrew the red base and fill the white container with water. When you've finished, make sure you screw the red base on properly before you turn it the right way up, otherwise you'll get very wet legs. Not that anybody's ever made this mistake, no sir...
The Garden Fairy will be in and out to do other jobs, like clean out the chickens, but if you fancy giving it a go, you'll find straw, a black bucket and a dustpan and brush inside the shed. Please feed the compost heap with straw and chicken droppings - they make fantastic compost!
Monday 16th July
Check out the newest arrivals in the garden!
Friday 13th July
The garden was alive with pollinating insects for the final lesson of term, as 1S foraged for the last vegetables (courgettes, cucumbers, chard, kale, cabbage, beans and nasturtiums) and the chickens laid another two eggs (45 and counting).
Hats off to the herbs which have been picked, sniffed and tasted by everyone from Year 6 to Year 1. These noble plants will now be allowed to grow on undisturbed over the summer, ready to supply us with tasty ingredients next term.
Thursday 12th July
A quick reminder to summer allotment volunteers - there are training sessions after morning drop off on Monday 16th and Wednesday 18th July. If you can't make these times, or you haven't received your email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org - thank you!
Cries of, "Try this one, try this one!" and "Ugh, that's disgusting!" in the garden this morning as 1P went on a herb hunt. There are certain herbs that nearly everybody loves (lemon balm, mint), those that completely divide opinion (chives, basil) and one herb that wins the prize for the most-hated by every single year group (take a bow, sage). But sage is supposed to cure flatulence, and if there's one thing we've achieved in the garden this term, it's that every child now knows what flatulence means.
Wednesday 11th July
A lovely day for a brain break.
Tuesday 10th July
Good grief, we thought the chickens had escaped at lunchtime. Every child on the field suddenly screamed at the sky in unison. (Just imagine that for a moment). But it wasn't Rosa, Florence, Victoria and Elizabeth swooping overhead in formation, it was the Red Arrows. Bet our girls could, though, if they wanted to.
1F were beyond excited to be in the garden at last - they gave a great demonstration of how to pick up a chicken when it's almost as big as you are, ably assisted by some helpful Year 6 girls. We had lots of lovely volunteers in the garden at lunchtime - watering, sowing seeds, transplanting beans and sunflowers and keeping the chickens company. It's a joy to see children getting increasingly confident with different gardening skills.
Monday 9th July
The mighty 1H were in the garden today, proving you don't need big hands to pick up a chicken. We spotted plenty of insects which have been attracted to the garden now the flowers are out - bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies and ladybirds, all busy pollinating plants or chomping on blackfly. The chickens have been busy too - 9 eggs over the weekend!
A quick reminder to pick up your scarecrow from the garden fence by Friday afternoon - the school takes no responsibility for any scarecrow which comes to life and subsequently wanders off with a tin man, a lion and a girl named Dorothy.
Friday 6th July
The A Team
WOW - the summer volunteer list is FULL! Thank you so much to everyone who signed up, you are now members of The Allotment Team, watch your inbox for further instructions. If you didn't get on the list this time, don't worry, there will be plenty of other opportunities. It's not too late to drop a line to email@example.com if you can do some watering over the next couple of weeks. A muddy High Five to all the parents and carers who manned the hose during sports week!
2S were on watering duty today and made a fine job of it. We had a record number of Year 2 chicken-picker-uppers; a big thank you to the lovely children who held chickens for their less confident classmates to stroke. 2S also gave us a demonstration of what happens if your thumbs aren't over the chicken's wings.
What are the loo rolls for?
Thank you for all the donations of toilet roll middles - we can now reveal that they've been stacked in trays and filled with soil ready to sow yet more seeds. Hundreds of biodegradable plant pots, absolutely free.
The Magic Compost Bucket
The PTFA left a bucket full of compost in the garden after the school fair, and it has magical properties. Sunflower seedlings have been popping up in the bucket all week. We've planted them in the giant raised bed and confidently expect them to lead us to an enchanted land in the sky by September.
Thursday 5th July
You guys are amazing! Only 24 hours after calling for summer volunteers, the list was almost full. There are two slots left at the end of August, so please sign up soon or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
2P had a terrific morning in the garden - they found beans, lettuce courgettes and a whopper of a cucumber to take to the kitchen for a monster salad. Picking up a chicken was harder than they thought - special shout-out to Marcus and Mia W for persisting even though they were nervous. Mia ended up parading around with a chicken under her arm, even holding it over the fence to show Mr. Winn.
Wednesday 4th July - Scarecrow Picture Gallery
Your scarecrows are incredible, and we'd love a record of them for posterity. If you have a picture of your child with their scarecrow and you'd like to see it on the website, please email a photo to Ellie at email@example.com and we'll add them to our picture gallery. Libby from RF has got the ball rolling with her epic Stormtrooper.
If you weren't lucky enough to win a place in the Kitchen Garden and you'd like to keep your scarecrow, please collect it by next Friday, 13th July. Congratulations to everyone who took part - what an amazing array of heroes and villains!
Tuesday 3rd July
2H really love their herbs - and some of them REALLY love their herbs (looking at you, Francis). Hopefully there'll be some left for 2P and 2S at the end of the week. Luckily the other plants are really taking off in the warm weather. We've got tons of green tomatoes, baby cucumbers and courgettes popping out all over the place, and the squashes are tumbling out of the raised beds and heading off to take over the garden. Hopefully when we get back in September there will be lots of lovely plump squashes and pumpkins waiting for us, along with melons, beans and cucamelons. A massive thank you to the parents who've already signed up to water these little beauties over the summer.
Monday 2nd July - Volunteers wanted!
"If you've got a garden, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A Team."
A is for Allotment, and if you fancy a spot of chicken-sitting and watering the school garden over the summer, we want you on The Allotment Team. The Fielding Holiday Club have kindly agreed to look after the chickens and water the garden where they can, but there are some key dates when they're not around.
Look for the sign-up sheet by the garden gate from tomorrow - we're asking volunteers to feed the chickens (hopefully they'll provide you with eggs in return) and water the orchard, garden and polytunnel. The list is divided into 2 or 3 day slots so it's not too onerous, but feel free to sign up for more than one slot if you like. Full instructions will follow by email and we'll post a how-to guide on the website.
And if you'd like to volunteer during term-time (maybe a spot of watering while you're watching Sports Day?) please email Ellie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Huge thanks in advance - together we can get the garden looking amazing when the children come back in September.
Sunday 1st July
Congratulations to the six winners of our Scarecrow Competition - your marvellous creations are now standing guard over Fielding's fruit and vegetables. All the scarecrows look wonderful lined up against the garden fence - high five to everyone who entered. The chickens have laid 5 more eggs in celebration.
Friday 29th June
2F couldn't wait until next week, so they had their gardening and cooking lesson early - and they were absolutely brilliant. They managed to find courgettes, beans and cucumbers to take to the kitchen and they noticed a lot of insects arriving in the garden - bees diving in and out of the squash flowers, a butterfly capering round the polytunnel and ladybirds searching for aphids on the nasturtiums. The blackfly are gathering under the nasturtium leaves - as well as being tasty in salads, nasturtiums attract blackfly away from other plants.
Thursday 28th June
"Today we brought jars to school and used wet cloths in the jar. Also we put a runner bean into the jar then stuck a sticker on the jar and wrote the bean's name, also decorated the sticker."
- Lila 3S
"Today we got to hold a chicken and one of the chickens was really flappy, but the others kept on running away."
- Chloe 3S
Wednesday 27th June - Breaking Egg News
Mrs Hodge had her school egg this evening - with a double yolk! The odds of getting a double yolk are about one in a thousand... the odds of two double yolks in a row (remember Mr. Dunmall's breakfast?) are one in a million.
Rosa, Florence, Victoria and Elizabeth - we salute you.
Wednesday 27th June
There's no stopping the Fielding chickens - they've laid 9 eggs in the last week! Here are the two most popular egg-based questions:
Do you know which hen laid the egg?
No, because they lay their eggs inside the coop. But you can definitely tell when they're laying - they all pile in together and make a huge racket.
Who gets the eggs?
We're giving the eggs to your teachers. (No, Mr. Winn, you can't have two).
Here's today's blog from 3P:
"I held a chicken today, it was so cool and the chicken was so fluffy. Luckily it didn't hit me with its wings, but other people were unlucky. The chicken was very calm, which was a big relief as some of them ran away!"
"It was a sweltering day for cooking and gardening. Firstly we did some cooking, we ate kale, red cabbage and lettuce we washed and chopped, which was really fun. Then we started gardening, we took a really helpful brain break, then we did a herb hunt, which was epic, then we held chickens which I'd never done before!"
Tuesday 26th June
Another celebrity visit today - School Governor David Millican dropped by to meet 3F and pick up a chicken. Here's 3F's take on the morning:
"It was a really fun day in the garden and kitchen because we got to taste different vegetables that some of us never tried, cleaning up and exploring the kitchen and my most favourite thing was getting everything and putting everything back in its place. In the garden I enjoyed going to see the chickens, the herb hunt and my most favourite thing - making our beans COME ALIVE! The thing I didn't like was going in the greenhouse because it was SO hot in there."
- Lucy O
"We had a really fun day in the garden and kitchen, because in the kitchen we did some taste testing, cutting and washing. I had fun in the garden because we tasted some herbs, my favourite was the mint leaf. We also picked some vegetables and tasted them. We also fed the chickens, they most liked watermelon. I was holding a tomato, they didn't really eat it. My favourite thing was holding the chickens."
Monday 25th June
We always knew our chickens were special, but today Mr Dunmall reported that the first egg from the Fielding chickens had a double yolk! Year 3 are in the garden this week - here's a double report from 3H to celebrate our double yolker:
"First we had cooking, we dug up things to chop and eat, then we had gardening, we picked up chickens with Ellie, it was so much fun. We got to go into the greenhouse; really hot and really fun. Here's some more information about the chickens: Breaking News - the chickens have laid 5 eggs, that means more chickens to pick up and more eggs when they grow up. When you pick up the chickens you get a photo that gets put on the website. Thank you for reading this."
- Archie 3H
"First we had cooking where we dug up vegetables and took them to the kitchen where we washed, cut and served them. Then we did some mindful tasting. Then we made our way over to the garden and tried different herbs, then we had a herb hunt. We went to the orchard to feed and pick up the chickens, it was fun because we each got to have a turn. When we pick up a chicken we have to hold the wings with our thumbs and hold under the chicken with our fingers. That was not all we did, but it was fun."
- Anoushka 3H
Sunday 24th June
A busy weekend for Florence, Rosa, Elizabeth and Victoria - eggs three and four have arrived!
Friday 22nd June
"Today we got to hold the chickens and found out the chickens laid a second egg."
- Henry, 4S
It's all about the eggs this week - but the plants are doing well too. Rosie, Matilda and Fedor from Year 6 brought back their beans-in-a-jar; we've got courgettes and cucumbers growing in the polytunnel and the aubergines are starting to flower. The squash and tomato seeds sown by RS before half term are going into the main beds, and should be huge when the class comes back as 1S in September.
Melons and cucamelons which we grew from seed are gradually being planted out in the polytunnel, along with more aubergines, tomatoes and cucumbers to replace the plants being used in cooking lessons. The strawberries are ripening outside, but mysteriously disappear almost as soon as they turn red. It's probably the birds... bring on the scarecrows!
Friday 22nd June
More breaking news - RP dropped by for a visit this morning, only to find the chickens had laid a second egg!
What's happening to the School Eggs, you ask? Well, the first one has gone on a tour of the Reception classes with Mr Webb and the second (come closer)… the second egg is on a top secret mission with International Rescue...
Thursday 21st June
It's Midsummer's Day and the chickens have laid their first egg! The School Egg has been on a celebratory tour of the garden to meet some of the other new arrivals, including a tiny squash, a couple of mini cucumbers and a small green tomato.
Wednesday 20th June
Even more excitement than usual in the kitchen garden today, with a celebrity guest and the return of our very first bean-in-a-jar. But first let's hear from 4P:
"Today at gardening we started by talking about what goes into the compost heap, then we did a herb hunt because Group A hid several different herbs in pots labelled with letters of the alphabet; we marked them and got to taste them. After that we planted beans in jars then filled up watering cans and went round the allotment watering plants. Lastly we went into the fruit orchard and played with the chickens and Bryony showed us a chicken's bum."
- Elizabeth, 4P
A special visitor today - Sara Ward from Hen Corner kindly gave us lots of advice about keeping chickens, followed by a masterclass in picking them up and cuddling them. We learnt that chickens love a good dust bath and will do anything for a handful of corn. Sara inspected our chickens and said they're healthy, close to laying and are the tamest chickens she's ever met - probably because of all the hugs they've had from Fielding children and staff ever since they were born. She also showed us how to look at a chicken's bottom, which our lovely volunteer Bryony demonstrated with great enthusiasm when Group B arrived in the orchard.
Another first for the garden at lunchtime - Noah in 6F was the first to bring back his bean-in-a-jar, which has grown to a terrific size. M.C. Beanz now has pride of place in one of our raised beds.
Tuesday 19th June
"In gardening we had a little herb hunt to see which herbs we liked the most. I have enjoyed doing the herb hunt, it was fun but also confusing. Also we were trying to pick up chickens - most of us tried and we did it (I didn't make it though)."
- Miranda, 4H
Monday 18th June
"This half term we have been focusing on cooking and gardening. In cooking we have been doing safety in the kitchen and picking vegetables from the polytunnel. Also we have been doing mindful tasting and using equipment to chop up the vegetables we picked. We tried spinach, kale, lettuce and carrots. Some of them were delicious and some weren't as good for different people.
In gardening we looked at herbs and used mindful senses to approach them. We went on a herb hunt to match the herbs to the correct information. We planted some runner beans using only paper cloths, sunlight and water, and placed these in our jam jars. At the very end we picked up chickens and Victoria was the easiest to pick up, whereas Florence, Rosa and Elizabeth kept running away. We had a great time."
- Tristan & Joshua C, 4F
Friday 15th June
Thank you so much to the anonymous donors who've given us everything from jam jars and loo rolls to cinnamon basil seeds and a lovely bunch of tomato plants in an M&S bag. These are no ordinary tomatoes, these are M&S tomatoes....
5S finished the week in fine style, impressing Mrs Hodge with their chicken-handling skills. Here's their blog:
"Today I went to the fantastic allotment, we tasted herbs and did a treasure hunt for different herbs, we watered plants and ate strawberries. Some herbs I tried were chives and rosemary and I put aloe vera on my hands. My favourite activity was feeding and handling the chickens.
In the kitchen I tried lettuce and cabbage from the allotment then I compared the lettuce with ones that were bought from a shop. We prepared the lettuce to eat by washing it, chopping it and then putting it in a bowl. All in all the allotment is fun and I love it."
Thursday 14th June
A tiny cucumber! A miniscule gherkin! Mrs Hodge hugging a chicken! 5P had a whale of a time in the garden today - here's their blog:
"Today we got to hold chickens, we also got to feed them. Me and my friends did a quiz with different herbs."
- Katie O
"Today we went on a herb hunt. We had to try and find out what the herb is, some tasted nice but some tasted really bad, like sage. We also got to hold chickens; you had to be patient and calm. It was the funnest part."
- Katie K
Wednesday 13th June
Hooray for the Fielding Kitchen Team! They're supplying the compost heap with huge amounts of fruit and vegetable peelings from school lunches. With paper from the classroom recycling boxes and a little help from the chickens, the heap is filling up nicely. In a few months we'll have our own top-quality Fielding compost to feed the plants, then feed ourselves, then the cycle starts all over again...
It's time to introduce the chickens: the most confident chicken is Rosa, who has the palest feathers. Florence is the largest of the dark-feathered hens. Victoria and Elizabeth are smaller and tend to hang around together, you can tell them apart because Victoria has a black beak. They're named after inspirational women - Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Rosa Parks and Florence Nightingale. They're all very pleased to meet you.
Tuesday 12th June
5F Fed The Heap in fine style today - Group 1 ripped up papers from their recycling box and Group 2 scooped up bucketloads of grass clippings from the school field. Along with a generous dose of fruit and veg waste from the school kitchen, the compost heap will be steaming away in no time.
It was lovely to see children who found it easier to pick up a chicken helping those who found it tricky - something that's happened in every lesson so far. Here's today's blog:
"This morning was very fun because we got a chance to hunt and eat some herbs (the sage was very disgusting). We liked feeding the compost heap with fat wads of grass. At the end we got to pick up some chickens and we had to be very calm but confident. Then we fed them with salad and fruit."
- by Matylda & Jessica
The level of the six beds in the centre of the garden has been raised so we can pile in more compost and grow more fruit and veg.
We've chosen the Three Sisters planting scheme: Native Americans traditionally grew sweetcorn (maize), climbing beans and squash together. The sweetcorn provided a structure for beans to climb up, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil which feeds the other plants, and the wide leaves of the squash shade the soil to suppress weeds and keep the moisture in. They also buried fish as a fertilizer but we've gone for seaweed granules.
Corn, beans and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and all eight essential amino acids. There's a Fielding twist to the planting scheme - because the beds are raised, we can also grow edible trailing plants to flop over the edge, so we've added strawberries, nasturtiums and tumbling tomatoes. Now all we have to do is water and wait...
Monday 11th June
It's Year 5's turn for Gardening and Cooking lessons this week and 5H were the first to dig up some homegrown lettuces and compare them to supermarket salads.
We've been talking about the history of herbs as well as tasting them - Coriander and Sage were believed to cure flatulence. A round of applause, please, for Jenna in 5H, who's the first person to know what flatulence means.
Florence, Rosa, Victoria and Elizabeth are still the most popular members of the garden team - 5H soon worked out you need to be very calm and assertive in order to successfully pick up a chicken.
Sunday 10th June
Behold The Demonstration Bean! This chap was popped in a jar at half term for the Fielding Runner Bean Challenge, so he's about a week ahead of the Year 6 beans. You should see the bean germinate in your jar within a week. The root pops out first, then the bean splits open and the green shoot appears. Don't forget to water your bean, and bring it in if you'd like it planted in the School Garden.
Friday 8th June
The secret is out - 6S is a class full of Chicken Whisperers. They really got the hang of gentle yet assertive chicken-scooping and even Miss Drage and Mr Thomas were tempted to join in. Here's today's Garden Blog:
"I think it was really fun holding a chicken and planting my own seed in a jar. The Herb Hunt was really fun, you get to try lots of herbs, some good, some bad (personally I hated all of the herbs).
- Nicola (aka Bob the Chicken Expert).
"Today 6S went to see the chickens and the school garden, it was great. Once the chickens were out of their hutch a slightly nervous class began to close in and the chicken experts made their entrance!"
- Shangwe (Another Chicken Expert)
Wednesday 6th June
6F put the value of Assertiveness into action today as they discovered you have to be gentle yet confident to pick up a chicken. They got an extra DIY lesson when Ciaran came over to put in our giant 12 metre raised bed and told them about life growing up on a farm. Here's today's garden blog:
"We got to taste, smell and feel different types of herbs. Some people liked the herbs but others didn't. We got to play Herb Hunters where we found out which herb was which, and planted our own runner beans in jars. At the end of the lesson we got to pick up, stroke and carry the chickens. It isn't as easy as it looks!"
- Chloe & Laila
Tuesday 5th June
6P have invented Compost Heap Therapy, which involves ripping up old classwork from the 6P recycling box and flinging it into the compost bin. There was plenty of assertive chicken-handling and some high-scoring herb hunters. Here's what they had to say about the morning:
"Today was a fun day because when we were doing gardening we got to do a game called Herb Hunters. It was really fun, you were supposed to look at the plants with letters on them and name which herb was the letter. We also got to hold the chickens (female), they were really cute, but some of the chickens ran away from the children. It was really fun, everybody found it fun."
"I really enjoyed going round and naming the herbs as it was interesting to see what things were. I also enjoyed holding the chickens as they were really soft and calm."
"Today was the best day ever! I HELD A CHICKEN! It was so fun and I loved it. Hope we get more animals soon!!"
Monday 4th June
6H were off to a flying start this morning with Fielding's first gardening lesson. We went on a herb hunt, sowed runner beans in a jar and learnt how to pick up a chicken.
Here's Nikki from 6H with the first ever Garden Blog:
"We have had lots of fun in the garden. We were able to water plants, collect grass cuttings for compost, plant our own beans, eat/smell herbs, and best of all, we fed and held the chickens (well, most of us)!
This was a very creative activity because of how much we learned about gardening and herbs. We were taught how plants grow and how to hold chickens.
This (I think) was one of the activities that everyone loved, because of the opportunities we had."
Looking forward to welcoming the gardeners of 6P tomorrow!
Friday 25th May 2018
A huge thank you to the parents and children who made the first donations to the Kitchen Garden. Quinn from RS sent his Dad along with four wonderful trays of veg plants - tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, courgettes, sweetcorn, broccoli and giant pumpkins. We have our first jam jars for the Great Fielding Runner Bean Experiment, and biodegradable loo roll middles for planting seeds. There is a green box by the kitchen garden fence for anything you can collect over half term - thank you very much in advance!
Why is the horse manure steaming?
We got stuck into a ton of horse manure today - compost is like rocket fuel for plants, and we want ours to get off to an explosive start. Some children were asking why the giant bag of manure was smoking - it's actually steam, because the compost is so hot. Microbes help the compost decompose - they eat and digest the manure, and give off heat as a by product, so a warm compost heap shows the microbes are doing their job.
Lily from Year 5 was the first brave soul to give the compost a sniff - and was surprised to find it doesn't smell bad. Finlay from Year 4 said it reminded him of his Grandpa.
The raised beds have had a few healthy shovelfuls of manure, and the first runner beans are climbing the hazel poles. We've also planted the first squash plants - Crown Prince, Harrier, Potimarron, Barbara Butternut and Red Kuri will all be spreading their roots over half term.
Thursday 24th May 2018
Today Mr Webb brought RS to the Kitchen Garden for a trial lesson. We learned the different parts of a plant, explored the garden and discovered the properties of leaves, from tiny pungent Rosemary to the chunky medicinal leaves of Aloe Vera. We had a herb tasting session and everybody chose and planted a seed in their own special pot.
A garden treasure hunt helped us discover what's growing in May, and the chickens came out for a gallop around the orchard. The chickens now have straw bedding in their coop, which they immediately started kicking out the door in their search for insects.
Richard and Neil came from Fraser's Timber Yard with a lorry load of heavy railway sleepers - we're planning to build a 12 metre raised bed, which should provide plenty of room for all the seeds we'll be sowing over the next half term.