Monday, January 31, 2011

Greening Of The Classroom

Growing Soil

Will Anything Grow ?

 In the design of the Outdoor Classroom we have used several tropical garden bed designs including pit mulching, no dig, sheet mulched and raised bed methods. We placed jungle trimmings along a fence line up to 3 feet in height then covered with sandy soil cardboard and mulch always watering in between each layer. Other resources used include sawdust, coconut fiber but I warn you not to use fiber only powder as the fiber takes forever to break down, I will cover in another blog. Food waste, sand, coconut palm, coconut thatch (cudgen), compost and mulch.

Constructing Raised Circular Bed

When designing these beds the foremost thought is that the system will grow soil as there is none to speak of to grow the fruit and vegetables sustainably.  To grow soil we need a mixture of carbon and nitrogen plus water and air for aerobic breakdown of the organic materials used. Always thinking of how can I encourage micro and macro flora and fauna to create humus which in turn will give us healthy soil therefore healthy plants. The same rules as for making compost. 

Fungi Eating

In the Classroom we will have many different people visiting from all walks of life and of all ages. To show how gardening can be easy for all from people with disabilities to young children. Research has indicated that gardeners can increase their life span by up 20% longer due to using all senses and thought processes.

Childrens Raised Circle Garden

Recycled Tricycle

To cater for all ages of gardeners three raised permanent structures were built to demonstrate raised garden beds of differing heights. Recycled materials including a disused porter’s tricycle, timber from villa renovations and logs from jungle trimming.
Diameter of the beds were worked out on arm span witdths of children and adults as were the heights.

Access inside the classroom has considered wheel chair access through wider pathways of coconut fiber.

Coconut Fiber Pathways

To support Permaculture design principle “all elements having at least 3 uses” legume and green manure seed was scattered on all beds or directly on to the sandy soil, watered in then mulch finly spreat on top then watered again within 5 days the seed had sprouted. Legumes and green manure seed used include mung bean, cow pea, millet and buckwheat. These seeds will supply 1. Nitrogen to the soil through root nodules 2. Retain moisture 3. Cool the ground reducing evaporation 4. Prevent weed growth as competing for space   and 5. When chopped and dropped adds biomass and nitrogen to the soil plus 6. You can harvest seed for eating and 7. Sowing in other beds or in the same. If you want to think of more there are. The end results though being a sustainable practice and all you have to do is buy the first seed or get from a friend.

Victor Sowing Seed


A good bug mix of seed was also scattered on the edges of the beds to encourage pollinators, predators and to help in nematode prevention and providing a habitat for “beneficial insects, such as predatory mites and tiny micro wasps, ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, tachnid flies and predatory beetles. These beneficial insects or 'good bugs' are generally small with correspondingly small mouthparts, so they are only able to feed on particular flowers with suitable attributes. By providing a plentiful food supply the 'good bugs' live longer and reproduce.” The mix includes red  clover, alyssum, cosmos, marigolds, Queen Anne's Lace, buckwheat, Lucerne, dill, caraway, coriander and phacelia), gypsophila.  Comos, Red Clover, Lucerne, Sweet Alice, Caraway, Queen Ann lace. Thanks to for seed and information.

Yes we can grow on sand

On Top Of  Jungle Trimmings With Compost

10 Days Growth

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