The Secret Diary Of A Wise And Beautiful Chicken
As silence falls over the Kitchen Garden, all that can be heard is a faint scraping noise from the direction of the Orchard. Slowly, Victoria's beak emerges from the secret tunnel she's been working on for weeks...
Saturday 4th April
Look at that cheeky little tadpole taunting me from the pond! There's hundreds of them - giggling and wriggling about in the chickweed. What wouldn't I give to get over that fence and start snacking on the juicy little fellows.
It's too much for a chicken to take.
Give me a leg up Florence - I'm going in...
p.s. Victoria is still trying to lay a crème egg.
Wednesday 1st April
Elizabeth says she laid this today.
We are not amused.
Monday 30th March
Elizabeth here - what's that razzled old turkey Victoria been telling you?
Queen of the World... Queen of the compost heap, more like. And she farts in her sleep, which is no joke if you're sharing a nesting box.
Victoria spends most of her day trying to get into the wildlife garden so she can nibble on the tadpoles. Trouble is, she's too fat to fly over the fence. Us chickens are walking stomachs, after all.
Catch you later, dudes,
Sunday 29th March
It is I, your noble Queen, finally taking my rightful place as Head Of The School Garden. I will be in charge of the kitchen garden diary from now on, and about time too.
(Some fool left their phone in the shed, so I will also be sending you pictures - if Elizabeth stops photobombing them for five minutes).
Your Affectionate Monarch,
Wisest and most beautiful chicken in Britain
In the World
Thursday 26th March
The chickens would like everyone to know they're happy and well fed.. and mostly well behaved. (Victoria has crowned herself the Queen of Fielding. Elizabeth says she's not speaking to the cackling old fool).
Thursday 19th March
Year 3 have been showing empathy for the chickens this week. Some chickens are more empathetic than others...
Monday 16th March
A glorious day of sunshine for 3H to finish planting the wildlife hedge and start sowing beans and potatoes. Even the chickens were a bit helpful.
The wildlife pond is getting crowded - along with tadpoles and newts we've spotted diving beetles, water fleas and water hoglets.
Friday 13th March
A wonderful surprise today - a lovely lady called Gillian brought some newts for the school pond. They haven't spawned yet, so there's every chance we may have BABY NEWTS this spring. Check out their tiny hands!
Monday 2nd March
The sun is out and the birds are singing their socks off - it's wonderful having a brain break filled with birdsong!
Today Year 5 have been planting trees kindly sent to us by The Woodland Trust - we're growing a wildlife hedge which will be overflowing with berries for our magnificent birds in years to come.
Thursday 27th February
We found a peacock butterfly - spring is just around the corner!
This week Year 6 have been brainstorming our entry for the first ever Childrens' Chelsea, run by the RHS. We have to design a garden on the theme of Health and Wellbeing, so we thought it would be brilliant to create a Mindfulness Garden. The children have already come up with some incredible suggestions, so after we've entered the competition, we'll build our design in the Fielding garden.
Monday 24th February
Sharp-eyed Leon in 6H spotted the clouds of grey eggs, and William spotted the two fat frogs who made them. Then we rescued another two clumps from the long-jump pit. Spring has arrived!
Friday 7th February
This term we're taking part in the RSPB's Big School Birdwatch - so far the children have spotted an astonishing array of birds (despite the spooky fog). We've also been exploring the fascinating world of fungi, and learning how to speak Chicken. Your children now have a range of useful phrases, from, "Watch out, there's a fox!" to "I'm laying an egg!"
Wednesday 6th November
What the chickens get up to when the children are away... yes you ARE in big trouble.
Monday 4th November
Look at this glorious bee!
Summer is lingering in the school garden - while 5H cleared the autumn leaves, the insects kept on buzzing among the last of the marigolds and nasturtiums. Lovely to see a few children get over their nerves to finally pick up a chicken.
Friday 1st November
6F have invented Bean Therapy. Pushing your hand through a bucketful of freshly-podded runner beans is apparently very relaxing.
Thursday 31st October
A glorious sunny day for 6S, sowing seeds and watching the insects scooting round the garden. They enjoyed the challenge of digging up weeds, sweeping leaves out of the pond and taking the chickens on their Autumn holiday.
Wednesday 30th October
What a day! 6P are super clued-up about climate change, so we had a lively conversation before launching into our Autumn mission - giving something back to nature.
We built a hibernaculum (a place for frogs and toads to spend the winter), podded beans, cleared leaves from the pond, sowed peas, dug up weeds and rescued seedlings from all the odd places they've been growing in over the summer.
Then we gave the chickens a holiday - taking them to places in the garden they don't usually go for a good dig about in the vegetable beds. Their favourite place was the lovely warm polytunnel, which quickly became a chicken spa once the ladies started scratching out dust baths.
Last word goes to Max, "Weeding is the best job ever!"
Monday 28th October
It was a beautiful sunny day and 6H got loads out of their gardening experience today - Damir went on a one-man mission to clean the chickens and we couldn't drag Yasmin away from clearing the pond - "it's so relaxing." But the number one job is still podding runner beans. The butternut squash muffins were delicious - thanks Mabel!
Friday 11th October
Year 2 did a fantastic job of training the chickens this week. Thanks to their hard work, the older and younger chickens are now living together in (almost) perfect harmony. Year 2 have also concluded that Victoria is definitely top of the pecking order.
Tuesday 8th October
It was so lovely to welcome everyone to the Open Garden this morning, and watch the children demonstrating their chicken-handling skills to the grown-ups. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments - and for bringing snacks for the chickens!
2H collected a record amount of runner beans yesterday - once word go out how much fun it was opening the pods, there was no stopping them.
Thursday 3rd October
A POND SKATER has moved in! The wildlife pond is now home to three froglets, one pond skater and hundreds of midge larvae. You may not find the larvae that thrilling, but they're super important - they're at the bottom of the food chain, so lots of other pond creatures will feed on them with gusto.
Year 3 had a whale of a time in the garden this week - their favourite autumn job is cracking open pods to find runner beans and borlotti beans. "It's like being a pirate!" "It's like being an explorer!" "It's like winning the lottery!"
Thursday 19th September
Squeee!!! The garden extension is finished! A big round of applause for the PTFA, everyone who raised money for the school, and Mark Eccleston, who built it over the summer (and a little bit of the autumn).
The wildlife area means we'll be able to increase biodiversity in the garden, teach the children about our native flora and fauna, and give them first hand experience of the magical way different ecosystems support on each other.
We'll have an open day very soon - but in the meantime, here are a few pictures...
Thursday 12th September
Obviously we'd like to tell you about deadheading, collecting sunflower seeds and how the chickens are establishing a pecking order (Victoria at the top, white-tailed chick at the bottom, if anyone's interested). But we can't - because we're too excited about something else - THE FROGLETS ARE BACK!
The pond is (finally) full of water, so 5P decided it was time to liberate the pond plants from the yellow bucket. We gently emptied the bucket into the water, and out hopped three minscule froglets. How are they still so tiny? What have they been doing in there all summer? Are they the last three, smallest tadpoles?
They all played dead to begin with (you would too, with a giant 5P staring down at you). But when the froglets decided they were out of danger, they zipped off under the nearest rock.
We have no photos yet, because the photographer was jumping for joy. We also STILL don't have a picture of a parakeet on a sunflower.
The last word goes to Esmee, who looked at the pond and said, "Water and stones... it's so satisfying."
Monday 9th September
Happy New Year! 5H were the first to explore the new garden extension - they got stuck right in and formed a human chain to get the pebbles from the school field to the pond. The stones around the edge of the pond will form useful hiding places for all manner of minibeasts.
We also began the important job of introducing the new chickens to our original four. There wasn't too much trouble - just the odd peck from the older chickens to let them know who's boss (it's Victoria, in case you were wondering).
The young chickens seemed to enjoy exploring - one of them jumped up onto the fence to examine our photo gallery. She wasn't quite sure how to get down again - when she finally executed a wobbly glide to the ground, 5H gave her a huge round of applause.
Friday 12th July
It's the last lesson of term, and we can safely say that nothing in the garden is lovelier than your children.
They've worked so hard this year to make the garden glorious - planting, weeding, watering... talking about gardening with their grandparents or how the scent of sweet peas reminds them of home.
And we got Bryony on the eggs!
Tuesday 9th July
Look out for the girl who is literally jumping for joy to see her friends standing on eggs. Also, full respect to Chiara's Dad for doing it in front of the entire class - he didn't break a single one!
Monday 8th July
This week Year 1 are reflecting on the amazing jobs they've done in the garden - smelling the sweet peas they sowed way back in the winter, tasting herbs they grew from seed, exploring the jungle in the polytunnel. They've also been welcoming the new chicks and froglets - and discovering the unbelievable strength of eggs.
Friday 5th July
A momentous day in the Kitchen Garden - our chicks have moved into their new home. 2S helped Danusia, Kelly and Nicola settle into the coop. They're named after three fabulous sportswomen - gymnast Danusia Francis, athlete Dame Kelly Holmes and boxer Nicola Adams.
What will Florence, Rosa, Elizabeth and Victoria make of the new arrivals? Stay tuned...
Wednesday 3rd July
This month's value is Reflection - 2H and 2F have been exploring the garden looking for flowers and vegetables they planted in the spring to see how they've grown, and thinking about which garden jobs they enjoy the most. There are plenty of new things to discover too - we've been searching for froglets and scrumping for blackcurrants and raspberries.
Thursday 27th June
3S's favourite jobs -
Cleaning garlic - "Really satisfying."
Deadheading - "Should be called beheading."
Watering - "I love making plants grow."
Smelling sweetpeas - "It reminds me of Gran."
Filling the pond - "The froglets are so cute!"
Monday 24th June
3H could have happily spent the whole lesson frog-watching round the pond. We reached peak cuteness with the froglets clambering through the chickweed, and the big frog surfacing now and again like a confused hippo.
They dragged themselves away from the frogs to pick peas, raspberries and blackcurrants, and did some really useful jobs like dead-heading flowers and digging up garlic. Emily brought in some rosemary cuttings and told the class how she did it - we'll have rosemary bushes all round the garden in a year or two.
Friday 21st June
Somebody's lurking in the pond... 4S found an extremely handsome frog today. There's also a few miniscule froglets hopping about the place, and loads of tadpoles with strong back legs. We celebrated the summer solstice by eating bunches of fresh peas, pulling up garlic, and keeping chickens cool with Bryony. Summer is here at last!
Tuesday 18th June
This week Year 4 have been showing empathy for the chickens - learning how to spot signs of them overheating, and how to keep them cool. We've also been looking at ways to entertain them - an egg box piñata, rolling corn in a plastic bottle, pulling vegetables out of a toilet roll... the chickens were having none of it, as you can imagine.
It was lovely to see so many children with empathy for plants - Plant A&E has been particularly popular this week. The sickly plants we rescued were all given names!
Friday 14th June
"Today in gardening and cooking, we went to visit the chicks!! They were sooo cute - and we even got to see the males leave, because when they get older they will fight. Next, we helped out in the garden doing some jobs; finally, after weeding, watering, poo jobs and others, we got to play with the chickens and stand on eggs!!! In cooking, we made chips and salad, and it was sooo delicious, it was sooo fun!"
- Flora, Georgi, Coral, 6F
Thursday 13th June
Fresh peas are super sweet, digging up potatoes is like digging up treasure... and even a monsoon won't keep 6S out of the garden.
Wednesday 12th June
The tadpoles have back legs! Also, a couple of full-sized frogs have moved into the pond, and Jasper spotted a damsel fly on one of the irises. We think it had only just metamorphosed from a nymph (which lives in water) because it just hung on its leaf for a while before fluttering its wings. Amazing to see an insect try flying for the very first time.
6P are all brilliant, but a special shout-out to Emily for bringing her own plant to the lesson, and Oscar who is a natural gardener and always on hand for tap-related emergencies.
Monday 10th June
Sorry... what? The weather is supposed to be glorious for Year 6's last gardening lessons, but it rained and rained and rained today.
Luckily, nothing can dampen 6H's spirits, especially when there's fresh peas to pick and potatoes to dig up, and - shhh - newly-hatched chicks...
Tuesday 4th June
We've joined Springwatch's national citizen science project - GardenWatch. This week, Year 5 are nature detectives, searching for the mammals, birds and minibeasts that live in, around and under our kitchen garden. We've also been learning about the importance of soil, how to spot a weed, and picking our first (delicious) strawberries. Bryony has been teaching us how to walk on eggs and speak fluent chicken.
A special shout out to Max in 5P, who LIKES WEEDING (!) and Rowan in 5P, who knows EVERYTHING about wildlife and will probably be presenting Springwatch by 2030.
You can find out more about Gardenwatch here.
Friday 24th May
Wednesday 22nd May
A lot of firsts for 3P in the garden today - first artichoke, first broad bean, first red strawberry. (But standing on eggs is still our favourite).
Tuesday 21st May
Did you know chocolate, onions and raw beans are poisonous for chickens? That they stop laying eggs if you give them corn instead of chicken pellets? That marigolds make their egg yolks orange? Year 3 know these things. They can also stand on two dozen eggs without breaking them - try it at home if you dare...
Friday 17th May
WE STOOD ON EGGS! To eggsplain (sorry) - our fantastic volunteer Bryony organised a belated birthday party for the chickens. We looked at foods the chickens can and can't eat, and discussed what makes their eggs so strong. Bryony even taught us to speak chicken. If you want to know what sound a chicken makes when it's laying an egg, ask someone in 4P.
Wednesday 15th May
"Today we picked some plants and saw which ones the chickens liked. Victoria was fussy and kept on running away. She liked red lettuce but didn't like mostly everything. Elizabeth was calm and she liked everything except fennel, Rosa loved red lettuce and she hated everything else. Florence loved everything but mostly mint."
- Deen, 4S
Tuesday 14th May
"So today we pulled out weeds from the strawberry patch and did other jobs like pot making, poo patrol, turning the compost heap and some more. And we did some experiments about the chickens, we talked about what they do like to eat and what they don't like."
- Dylan 4H
Monday 13th May
Last week's Mayvember weather has finally given way to Actual May, and 4F have emerged from hibernation to bring the garden to life. As well as weeding, watering and planting fruit bushes, 4F launched the Kitchen Garden A & E Department, rescuing some of the plants that were looking a bit stringy and yellow because they'd been in their pots for too long.
We've also been getting to know our chickens a little better - by finding out what they like to eat. Red lettuce and chard are the current favourites for three of our chickens, but Rosa has turned out to be a fussy eater - so far she hates everything!
Thursday 9th May
Because your children are such awesome gardeners, we're growing slightly more vegetables, flowers and herbs than we need. So from next week, we thought we'd sell surplus produce to raise money for the school.
We'll put out what we've got on the tables at dropoff every morning with a box for donations - so watch out for a completely random selection of home-grown beauties.
Thursday 2nd May
Blowing on a chicken's bottom turns out to be an excellent method of herding it around the garden. Year 5 displayed excellent teamwork and persistence this week - but the agile chickens still managed to dodge them if they spotted a tasty spider or snail.
We've planted out tons more seedlings now the weather is warming up, and the strawberry patch is almost weed free. We discovered a lot of weeds have very long tap roots, making them hard to dig up, but our resilient gardeners got the job done.
Tuesday 30th April
Year 5 are off to a flying start in the garden this term - and they need to be - the plants are rocketing skywards. We've been watering everything in sight, weeding the strawberry patch ready for a delicious mulch of compost, pinching out sweet peas and planting marigolds along the fence.
Year 5 are also facing their greatest chicken challenge yet - herding the chickens around the garden without touching them. It takes teamwork, patience and ingenuity - so far Victoria, Elizabeth, Rosa and Florence definitely have the upper hand. (Wing? Claw?)
Wednesday 24th April
This is no ordinary wheelbarrow full of compost... this is Fielding Primary School Compost, manufactured from the finest fruit and vegetable peelings, recycled paper* and chicken poo.
EVERYONE in school made this compost - whether you put paper in the class recycling bin, ate fruit and vegetables for lunch, or joined the growing band of Poo Patrol enthusiasts cleaning out the chickens.
Our first ever batch of home made compost has been spread on the fruit bushes - so hopefully we'll be rewarded with extra-juicy blackcurrants and raspberries this summer.
(*Warning - may contain traces of 2018 SATs papers).
Thursday 4th April
April's been chucking some interesting weather our way, but Year 1 have soldiered bravely on, moving the tadpoles to their luxurious new home, planting runner beans in jars and juggling chickens.
It's been terrific to have so many parents visiting the garden this week - tomorrow is your last chance before the holidays, but we'll be open again in the summer term so you can see how brilliant your children are at gardening.
Friday 29th March
More excitement in the garden today with Operation Tadpole. 2S used jam jars to move the tadpoles from the yellow bucket to their luxurious new home in the pond. Better still, Quinn from Year 1 sent his Dad along with some pond weed and irises and he showed us how to plant them in the pond. There were a couple of dragonfly larvae in the mix - so watch out for dragonflies buzzing round the school field this summer!
Thursday 28th March
We had an extra treat in 2P's gardening lesson this morning - Bella brought in a lovely poem about tadpoles which she read to the class.
a black dot
a jelly tot
a cool kicker
a sitting slicker
a panting puffer
a high hopper
to make me
Wednesday 27th March
Spring has sprung, seedlings are popping out all over the polytunnel and the birds are yelling with joy. Year 2 are filling up the pond as quickly as they can - the tadpoles are super keen to get out of their yellow bucket and see the world.
Friday 22nd March
THE TADPOLES ARE HATCHING - YIPPEEE!!!
Our big yellow bucket is teeming with wriggly little fellas, and we've already started digging a pond for them to live in.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, Year 3 have been trying gardening tasks they think they can't do - like making paper pots, flipping chickens, and planting peas with really long roots. It's brilliant seeing their faces when they succeed.
Thursday 14th March
How's your front crawl, Florence? Not sure what the chickens thought of the flooded orchard today.
Wednesday 13th March
4P went to the long-jump pit to look for frogs this morning. Eagle-eyed Theo spotted a last, lonely bubble of frogspawn. Presumably it's been sitting there all week, thinking, "Where did everybody go?" Theo named him Cameron, and reunited him with his brothers and sisters in their big yellow bucket.
Tuesday 12th March
Storm Gareth? Pah - 4F laughs in your face!
Monday 11th March
4H brought sunny weather, even sunnier smiles, and a fine array of motor skills to the garden this morning. There was a huge "Oooooh!" when we opened the polytunnel to see how the seedlings had grown. And they got the chickens purring.
Saturday 9th March
WOOHOO! Because we reached Level 4 in the RHS School Gardening Awards, the RHS have very kindly sent us £100 of seeds. Well done Fielding Gardeners - let the sowing commence!
Friday 8th March
Operation Frogspawn! 5S used their motor skills to full effect in their mission to rescue frogspawn from the long-jump pit.
Thursday 7th March
An exciting, windswept morning for 5P - investigating frogspawn, making bird-scarers, repotting sweetpeas (it's lovely in the polytunnel this week) - and on top of that, the author of Charlie Changes Into A Chicken, Sam Copeland dropped by to give our chickens a hug.
Tuesday 5th March
Remember those frogs we rescued last week? We took them to a puddle in the long jump pit. Today Jack from 5F asked if we could check on them, and... TA-DAH!!!
Behold - glutinous mounds of frogspawn!
Monday 4th March
5H have been exploring their marvellous motor skills in the garden today - using gross motor skills for weeding, watering and pushing the wheelbarrow, and fine motor skills for making pots, transplanting seedlings and sowing seeds.
We've also been exploring the anatomy of a chicken, looking at how they use their motor skills to find food, roost and protect themselves. And we've been asking "What's a wattle?" - taking a close look at combs, wattles and ear lobes. They are a chicken's inbuilt air conditioning system - as well as being devastatingly attractive, of course.
Friday 1st March
"Today was really fun. We picked up chickens like babies and we found a healthy frog called Darwin and a dead one... or so we thought. We called it Gary. It was really fun today even though it wasn't sunny."
- Georgi 6F
Thursday 28th February
6S found a REALLY fat frog in the garden this morning - she looks like she's about to lay her eggs. We've taken her to a secret location, where we'll be checking up on her and looking out for frogspawn. 6S made a second exciting discovery towards the end of the lesson - how to make a chicken purr. If you cradle it in your arms and tickle its tummy, you can feel a vibration in its neck which is exactly like a cat purring. 6S are the Chicken-Charmers!
Tuesday 12th February
The sun came out, the birds sang, the chickens made a noise like a tractor... 1P had a glorious morning in the garden - admirably demonstrating February's value of Engagement. "I could do this all day," said one watering-can enthusiast.
Monday 11th February
The temperature in the garden has risen from -4 to +10 degrees centigrade over the last week. The chickens saw snow for the first time - and they had really clean, pink feet!
The children have been working hard getting ready for spring - cleaning the chickens, digging grass out of the fruit beds, sowing seeds, making paper pots and transplanting seedlings in the polytunnel. Fox Patrol and Poo Patrol have been the most popular jobs. We've also been learning how to check the chickens for mites by turning them upside down. When the chickens are really relaxed, they fall asleep in your arms.
Tuesday 15th January - Space Tree News
We've had an email from the National Trust, and there's good and bad news on the Space Tree competition. The Space Saplings have got mildew, so they're going to be kept at Kew Gardens until they're healthy again. This means the competition results won't be announced at the end of January, but probably March or April instead.
But the GOOD news is that everyone who entered the competition will get some apple pips from Sir Isaac Newton's famous tree. So even if we don't win a sapling, we'll still be able to grow a very special apple tree in our orchard. In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of 5F working their socks off.
Monday 14th January
5H dived into the first gardening lesson of 2019 with bags of enthusiasm. This term we're getting ready for spring - sandpapering the raised beds, weeding the garden, digging a bed for the fruit bushes, making paper pots and transplanting the seedlings we planted last term. Year 5 are building up a useful set of gardening skills and believing in themselves as real gardeners.
Our chicken task this term is turning the chickens over, so we can check their feathers for mites. This month's value is self-belief - something you definitely need to turn a chicken upside down - and as you can see, Year 5 have it by the bucket load.
Happy New Year!
THANK YOU to all our wonderful volunteers for looking after the chickens over Christmas. You've done an amazing job - Rosa, Florence, Victoria and Elizabeth are all happy, healthy and cheeky as ever.
If you missed out on looking after the chickens over the holidays, don't worry - there will be plenty of opportunities this year. And if any parents would like to help out in their child's gardening lessons, you are REALLY welcome - it's great fun, and the children get more out of their activities with a little extra help.
Wednesday 19th December
MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Kitchen Garden! Thank you to all the children for your huge enthusiasm for gardening and chicken-handling - it's wonderful to see your growing confidence. Thank you to all our fabulous holiday volunteers, and to regulars Sue and Bryony for turning up whatever the weather.
Tuesday 18th December
WE HAVE OUR WINNERS!
A huge thank you to the fabulous Forest School judges for choosing Fielding's entry to the Space Tree Competition from Year 6's excellent shortlist. Gardeners from across the school have been coming up with amazing ideas all term, so choosing the winners was a very difficult job.
We can now finally reveal that the winning title is...
and the winning idea is...
A SPACE MAZE (2S, 3H, 4H, 5S)
Congratulations to the classes who came up with these wonderful ideas, and to all the Fielding gardeners for being so creative and enthusiastic when we discussed the Space Tree project in our gardening lessons.
What happens next? The competition deadline is midnight on 1st January 2019. There are 8 Space Trees up for grabs, and entries from all over the UK will be judged by The UK Space Agency, The National Trust and Kew Gardens. Watch this space (and keep your fingers crossed).
Competition details here.
Friday 14th December
WE HAVE A SHORTLIST! Year 6 have voted on the longlist for the Space Tree Competition, and the shortlist they created will be presented to our ace panel of judges at the Forest School on Monday. We'll announce the winning ideas soon afterwards - and let you know which classes they came from.
"Today we chose a name for the apple tree competition and we also replanted the strawberries. My favourite part was doing the four chicken challenge. We also planted red salad in the polytunnel."
- Georgi, 6F
"We enjoyed digging holes for the strawberries to grow in and sowing lettuce seeds. Our favourite part of today was doing the four chicken challenge. We voted on the shortlist for the space tree. We enjoyed today as we have had lots of fun as a class. Can't wait for the competition result..."
- Sofia & Coral, 6F
Monday 10th December
WE HAVE A LONGLIST! Since October, the Fielding gardeners have been coming up with ideas for our entry to the Space Tree Competition. For anyone who doesn't know, Tim Peake took some apple pips from Isaac Newton's apple tree to the International Space Station, where they spent six months floating in microgravity. They've now grown into saplings, and we're entering the competition to try and win one for Fielding. The competition has sparked many exciting conversations in gardening lessons about Newton, gravity, physics and life on other planets. Many thanks to Mille Cycon (Charlie and Chloe's Mum) for coming up with the idea. More details of the competition here.
This week, Year 6 have the job of whittling down the longlist to a shortlist, which will go to our judging panel early next week. Want to know more - watch this "space". (Sorrynotsorry).
Thursday 6th December
Year 1 are LEGENDS.
Thursday 29th November
Advent is coming (because that's what Advent does), and Year 2 have been filling the garden with festive cheer. They're brightening up the last two tepees in the raised beds with Christmas tree decorations, and we're hoping Year 1 will continue the job next week. If you'd like to help them out, please bring any spare tinsel or baubles to the garden gate (we now have a jolly post box).
Year 2 are already kicking off next year's growing season by planting seeds in the polytunnel - kohl rabi, good king henry, salad leaves, kale, chard, mint, radishes, choi sum and namenia so far. We're also planting dozens of sweet peas in the toilet rolls you kindly donated - ready to fill the garden with pollinating insects and delicious fragrance next summer.
Thursday 22nd November
The polytunnel is empty! Years 3,4,5 & 6 have been clearing the polytunnel since half term and chopping up the dead plants for the compost heap. 3S finished the job today, and now we're ready to plant hundreds more seeds over winter and spring.
Years 1 & 2 - over to you!
Wednesday 21st November
Great philosophical point from 3P in today's lesson:
"Saying there are no aliens in space is like filling a jug with water from the ocean, and saying there are no fish in the sea because there are no fish in your jug."
Tuesday 20th November
3F braved the wind and the rain to search for seeds, pod beans, cut back dying plants, play with the chickens and decorate the constellation trees. Don't forget to wrap up warm for your gardening lessons - it's definitely a 3-layer week in the garden this week!
Monday 12th November
"At the start of the lesson we had a brain break to get calm and ready for the lesson. Then we had a look around the garden and saw what was different and added plants. After that we cut down all plants that were yellow and brown and were dead.
Next, Ellie introduced us to the Space Tree competition and we decorated the constellation trees and came up with ideas to win the space tree and decided what we will do with it.
The last part of the lesson was to dig out the compost and find out what lives in there. The best part was when we went into the orchard and picked up and balanced the chickens on our arms, shoulders, backs and necks."
- Lucy 4F
Friday 9th November
"Today when we came to the allotment, we looked around. Me and my friends were really surprised when we saw loads of tinfoil already. Then we started cutting the old plants and putting them in the compost bin - it smelt disgusting. When we finished, we separated into groups and looked for cool things. Afterwards we decided on ideas to win the space tree. Then we put the chickens on our backs, heads and shoulders. It was so crazy, we absolutely loved it!"
- Lia, 5S
Thursday 8th November
"Today we came up with ideas of what to call a science project. It's a massive competition that loads of people are participating in, and if you win you get one of the apple trees that grew in space. We brought in silver things to decorate the constellations. We used tin foil to decorate the trees with."
- Adeline, 6P
"Once we arrived in the allotment we walked to the orchard to do a brain break. We were given special scissors to cut the dead plants and put them in the compost to decompose into soil. We used forks to find unwanted things in the compost. We found glue sticks, nails and the top of a pineapple which hadn't yet decomposed.
After that, we were told about a competition to win the seeds that Tim Peake took into space - and we were entering!!! We thought of names for the project and my group chose 'Intergalactic Allotments'. We decorated constellation trees and took out the seeds of beans. We compared and contrasted metamorphosis and evolution. Finally, we balanced chickens on out arms, backs and even heads! Gardening is ALWAYS SO FUN!"
- Katie, 6P
Monday 5th November
"Today in our gardening session we went into the orchard and had a brain break like we do to start every gardening lesson. After that, we had some sharp scissors and went to cut down any dead plants. We put them in the compost heap afterwards. Next we had some mud in front of us from the compost heap and searched for any living things inside it.
Then the class designed their constellation trees with lots of silver objects such as tin foil and tinsel. After we had designed the trees, we sat down and learned about gravity and what a mutant is. We also looked at chicken physics before going to the orchard and putting chickens on our shoulders and backs. One chicken stayed on my arm for a long time before another one went on my other shoulder. A few minutes later, they came down, but another one went on my head.
After that, we came back to the benches and sadly, the gardening session was over."
- Jake, 5H
Friday 2nd November
"Today was a great day in Gardening. We tidied up the garden by cutting all the brown leaves and stems. Then we dug up the compost to see what living things were in there for Forensics Science. We talked about Space Science and decorated our Constellation Trees with silver things like tin foil.
Next we did some Physics Science with the chickens and balanced them on different parts of our body and we talked about the force. It was a fun day!"
- Matylda, 6F
"Today was amazing. We held the chickens on our arms and backs. We are entering a competition to win a space tree and everyone gets the chance to name it and then if we win we might get it and put it in a special pot."
- Georgi, 6F
Friday 2nd November (Part 2)
First frost of the season this morning - we bring you early morning pictures of the garden looking sparkly and beautiful. Also huge thanks to Fay, Sue and Bryony for helping with our Halloween lesson this week - we had a wicked time with 6P. Having parent helpers in the garden is wonderful - the children get to be more adventurous with the tools and the whole atmosphere is extremely jolly. Let your class teacher know if you'd like to help during your child's lesson, or email Ellie at email@example.com - the more the merrier!
Thursday 1st November
"Today we helped the plants decompose by chopping off dead leaves. Then we decorated our new Constellation Trees with tinfoil and silver objects. We also discovered about physics by putting chickens on our backs and arms!"
- Sophie, 6S
"Today we decomposed plants and were being forensic scientists (which is the science of doing clues). Then we thought about ways to get Tim Peake's apple pips for Fielding and we wrote down ideas. Then we decorated our trees with tinfoil which was fun. Unfortunately because of the rain we couldn't get the chickens on us so we fed them seeds and corn. Believe it or not, we also ate NETTLES!"
- Adris, 6S
Monday 29th October
"Today we were talking about gravity and why Tim Peake brought apple seeds to space. Before that we started taking off the dead plants and putting them on the compost heap. It wasn't that pleasant! After that we fed the chickens with corn and picked them up to hold."
- Izzy, 6H
Hope you've all had a lovely half term and you're ready to roll up your sleeves from some Autumn gardening. WEAR WARM CLOTHES for your gardening lessons - it's getting chilly out there.
But the weather won't slow us down - this half term the Kitchen Garden is travelling to Outer Space, to try and win one of the apple saplings from Tim Peake's "Pips In Space" project. We're also building Constellation Trees in the garden, and asking everyone to bring something silver to their lesson. Kitchen foil, tinsel, chocolate wrappers, ribbon, cake trays (no, YOU had a mince pie in October) - anything that will stand up to the weather and make the garden look cheerful. And if you are awash with silver things (who isn't?) we'd love your glittery donations at the garden gate.
Finally, the best-ever description of a felt tip running out comes from Mari in 1S:
"Miss - my pen's feeling downhearted."
Monday 15th October
1H brightened up a grey day by picking orange and yellow nasturtiums and marigolds from the garden. They created a series of vibrant MasterChef-quality salads which they took to the dining hall for lunch. Self-sufficient and stylish - what more could you ask?
A huge thank you to superstar Mille Cycon for finding us the sturdiest of wooden bookcases and the smartest of bricks for our Bug Hotel. The children have been making bundles of sticks to fill the hotel and after half term we'll start decorating it, so our pollinators and predators can spend the winter in 5 star luxury.
Thank you also to the fabulous Bryony Fox for volunteering every week - the garden is a lot smarter and healthier with her around, and she's a whizz with the chickens. We're looking forward to welcoming a couple more volunteers next week - and very happy for you to come and do a trial run if you're free any day between 8.45 and 12.45.
Year 1 are making fancy salads with edible flowers next week, so here's a couple of pictures before they eat all the nasturtiums. And a cucamelon, cutest vegetable in the garden.
If you would like to volunteer in the school Kitchen Garden, we would LOVE to have you! It can be for as long or as little as you like - just pop in and see Ellie at morning drop off, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We would also love any spare envelopes you have, to store seeds in. Donations can be left in the box by the garden gate.
In the meantime, check out the humungous spider 3F found in the polytunnel, the ladybird larvae on the bean poles, and how hard Year 3 are working in the garden!
Friday 28th September
"Holding the chickens was so much fun and Rosa was especially squirmy. It was an amazing experience because not everyone gets to say they held a chicken the day before their birthday at school. Our school is amazing. We're so lucky and Ellie's so nice."
- Alya & Ellie, 4S
"When we held the chickens they sometimes would fly away and then everyone screams. We're growing a poem, also we went outside onto the edge of the field and we collected some sticks for the Bug Hotel. It was really fun!"
- Margaux, 4S
Wednesday 26th September
"Today I enjoyed making potato salad. And I picked up the chicken and hugged it, and the chickens are so soft. It was fun."
- Jasmin, 4P
"I enjoyed hugging a chicken today, I also enjoyed writing a letter for a poem. I enjoyed feeding the chickens."
- Sofia, 4P
Tuesday 25th September
"I was so excited for this day to come. So far I have had a very nice day. I had a very exciting time picking up chickens, drawing a letter and starting a bug house. The excitement was definitely worth it."
- Alice, 4F
""This day was amazing, I had so much fun. My letter was really fun and colourful and so were my friends'."
- Max, 4F
Monday 24th September
"I was cleaning out the chickens' poo. It was fun but gooey. I loved it."
- Maisie, 4H
"I was using the secateurs today to cut the dead plants and put them in the compost bin, and it was so much fun. Keep the good gardening up!
- Archie, 4H
"I felt very energetic. It was very fun, we picked up chickens and added to the bug hotel."
- Zac, 4H
"I felt energetic. I enjoyed picking up Victoria."
- Isabella, 4H
Friday 21st September
5S pointed out it's the Autumn Equinox this weekend - when the sun passes over the equator from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere and the nights become longer than the days. But fear not! We're still producing "more and more, later flowers for the bees" as Keats would say, and sowing fast-growing salad crops while the weather is still warm. Value of the month? Perseverance!
Thursday 20th September 2018
Turning the compost heap is a weirdly popular activity this term. 5P described it as "disgusting fun" in today's lesson. Digging around the trees in the orchard to look for minibeasts was another favourite activity - "look at the size of that worm!" They also described pollinating insects as "the heroes of the garden." 5P are definitely a creative bunch - grubby, but creative. First lesson in the rain today!
Tuesday 18th September
It was 5F's turn in the garden - they did a great job of watering the plants and making rooms for the Bug Hotel and came up with some wonderful designs for the letters in our Autumn poem. We collected four more eggs this morning - the eggs will be on sale at this Friday's cake stall after school - your chance to try an egg from a celebrity chicken!
Monday 17th September
Lots of treats for our celebrity chickens from 5H today. We dug up the grass around the trees ready for a good mulch of compost, and discovered lots of juicy worms and insects. Then we fed the chickens by hand with another favourite treat - corn mix.
If you missed our chickens on TV you can watch a clip here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-45524795/teacher-s-peck-meet-the-pupils-rearing-chickens-in-london
Friday 14th September
The chickens are going to be on telly!* The compost heap won an award! It's only the first week back! Here's 6F...
"Today we have enjoyed picking up chickens and digging up grass. Picking up the chickens was our favourite part as we enjoyed the soft feathers. We saw how the plants had grown since our last lesson in the summer. We also read a very descriptive poem about Autumn and the plants in our allotment. We had great fun feeding the chickens worms and other tasty snacks. This was by far the best day of the week! :)"
- Sofia 6F
"Today I have enjoyed picking up the chickens and cooking. Best day ever!"
- Ryam 6F
*The chickens will be on Inside Out, BBC1 on Monday 17th September at 7.30pm.
Thursday 13th September
"Today we had a really fun time. We dug up soil and found lots of insects, therefore the chickens went nuts! We also dried squash seeds in two pieces of tissue to store them. We decorated letters to write a whole poem around the garden! Last but not least, we held the chickens and fed them seeds."
- Immi, 6S
"We had a fun time picking up the chickens and cooking some nice food. I hope 6S does this again. Thank you."
- Hassan, 6S
Wednesday 12th September
"Today we had an amazing time gardening. We did a variety of activities, ranging from holding the chickens to drawing a letter based on a poem about Autumn and Winter. Since we last saw the polytunnel it has become an overgrown jungle!"
- Girisha, 6P
Tuesday 11th September
What's going on in the Kitchen Garden this term?
We've got lots of delicious vegetables to harvest for cooking lessons - including a stunning array of squashes and beans. The chickens are laying four eggs a day and they're bigger than they were last term. We're busy sowing seeds - making the most of the warm weather with some quick- growing salad crops, and looking forward to Spring with onions, garlic and broad beans. The Values Planters look marvellous set up around the garden, giving us plenty of extra growing space. We're also collecting and storing seeds from the garden to sow next year.
We've started two whole-school projects for this half of term. We're growing a poem - "To Autumn" by John Keats - building it up one letter at a time around the garden. We've got a lot of the plants Keats writes about in our garden - it's lovely to read it surrounded by "vines" and "gourds."
Keats writes about insects too - our other big project is the Bug Hotel, a place where our wonderful pollinating insects can hibernate, ready to get to work for us in Spring. We'd love donations to help build it - especially a wooden bookcase if anyone is having an Autumn clear-out!