Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Post for the 2011 Tui Garden Challenge....

Tell us what you have learnt Grayson...

What did you enjoy Nicole?

Wrap it up Harmony...

Well, that's it from us here at Opua School. I hope you have enjoyed our blog as much as we have enjoyed creating it. Thanks Tui, Mitre 10 and everyone who have made this a great competition. We sure hope we will be visited by the Tui representatives as we would love to show them all around our school gardens.
Have a great summer everyone!!

Room 4 and Opua School out!.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

These are our wheelie bins that a two of our talented pupils painted.
We use these bins for our recycling, paper, plastic, cardboard etc... Aren't they pretty?

Our Garden has sprung into life over the two week spring break. We have had huge harvests of silverbeet, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage, broad beans and we have even had a couple of strawberries

We have discovered self sown sunflowers and an avocado tree is starting to grow which must have come from the compost heap. We will have to find a suitable place to transfer that to!

We have been sharing our harvest with our neighbours, much to their delight!
Parents of one of our pupils own a local restaurant and have offered to pay us for our parsely on a regular basis! Yay!

Here are our latest batch of chickens that the children have reared. Our first batch are now laying and we are going to sell them as layers to local people. We use their poop on the garden as fertilizer and they take care of the scraps.

We have 5 Giant Pumpkin plants romping away ready for Cinderella in March.
We will be posting our last post tomorrow morning as it is the last day of the competition.
We have had a fantastic time during this comp and the children have learned so much, this will be an on-going part of Opua School's culture.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The children have been working in groups to share what they have learnt over the past few weeks;
* You must measure the worm juice, as the pure worm juice is too strong.
* Keep the chook poo away from the stems of the plants because the ammonia will burn and damage the plants.
* Seeds don't always germinate, you have to be very patient.
* I learnt how to pick the vegetables, you must hold the plant at the same time.
* You must plant the seedlings about 10cm apart.
* Water, sun & soil is very important for healthy successful plants.
* We have learnt how important compost, bees, worm juice/tea is to produce large healthy crops.

* We like the colourful vegetables that Tui sent us as seedlings.
* Broccoli, silver beet and beetroot, we loved the quiche we made for lunch and the roasted beetroot!
* Lettuce and parsley because they make our egg sandwiches taste delicious!
* I like picking and eating sugar snaps.
* I like beans because we really get our monies worth!
* Potatoes because it is exciting digging them up to see how many and what shape they are.
* I like seeing how the carrots have grown.
* The giant pumpkin because we are hoping for a GIANT!

* We enjoyed receiving the Mitre 10 vouchers and we loved going shopping with them. I was a great morning out!
* It was a privilege to get the new garden tools and we have looked after them.
*We really enjoyed experiencing different plants and seeing what they grow into.
* It was fun to see the bees pollinate the flowers and learn about the importance of bees in our world. Also how we fed the weeds to the chickens and then we eat the eggs!
*We enjoyed seeing the plants grow from seed to something we can eat.

Thank you Tui for giving us the opportunity to enter this competition. We have learnt a lot about gardening and how to look after the garden. We know that your garden products work and that our local Mitre 10 stock all your products.

We have had a GREAT time and we are very grateful to our wonderful teacher Mrs. Young who has allowed us to fit the gardening around our school work. She is a brilliant teacher!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taaaaaaallllllll Cabbages

Broad Beans Aplenty

Broad Beans used to be (nearly) every child's nightmare dish, along with boiled-to-death cabbage and brussell sprouts 8-/
But now we have a new generation of EDAMAME lovers!
The girls picked 130 pods of lovely juicy broad bean pods this very morning.

They will be taking a bunch each home with them and will help their mummies make dinner tonight. They are very tasty when they are blanched in boiling water then tossed in butter and sesame seeds, or added to peas, carrots and corn. YUM!!

Week 9 of the Tui Competition

Gosh! It has been 9 weeks since this competition started and we have seen a great change in the weather and temperatures. I just wanted to show you the garden that the boys created back in week 2 on the 11 August. The dirt was conditioned with worm castings from the worm farm. Here is a photo to jog your memory

On the 23rd of August a box of seedlings turned up from ZELANDIA. We planted the Pak Choy and Mustard Greens (ruruhau) in this garden. Here is a pic of the garden today...wait for it...wait for it...


How's THAT for healthy plants? Worm castings, warm weather and generous watering have all helped to make this garden a beautiful sight...and tasty too :-)
This is a question from  Room 5 from Raumati South School on the Kapiti Coast...
Hi Opua School! We learnt so much from your very informative report about cooking your quiche. We are now looking at your story about the strawberries and we are interested in knowing about what the green cone system is, as seen in your photo... What is it?

We dug a hole and placed the 'basket' down in the dirt which allows the juices from the composting vegetation to seep into the earth and the holes in the basket lets in good bugs and wormies.
We put our food scraps and other vegetation in the cone. The food scraps are actually shared between the chooks, worm farms and the Green Cone system.
The strawberries we planted are looking really bonny and there is to be a tower of peas surrounding the greencone itself. The soil is very nutrient rich around this area of the garden.

Thanks for your question!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Worm Tea anyone??

mmmmmmmmmmmmm ...... delicious worm tea..

What Is Worm Tea?

Worm Tea is a by-product from worm castings. It is the leachate from a mature worm farm and is a rich source of nitrogen fixing bacteria, enzymes, organisms and beneficial bacteria.
Worm juice provides a wealth of nutrients and minerals, with over sixty different elements providing many of the requirements of our plants.

As you can see we have a high tech way of  delivering the tea to our plants, this is what we call.."Why bother with buying a watering can when we have these pots aye?" (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle ;-))

Did you know that garden waste and food scraps make up about 50-60% of household waste?
Here at Opua School we save all of our food scraps from morning tea and lunch,  grass clippings for a warm temperature and a bit of lime to keep the flies/midgies out.  Also water is very important!

Yum Yum!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hail to the Caretaker...The Caretaker Man

Looking at other blogs on this site we have noticed many schools have a fantastic caretaker helping them out in one way or another. Without these wonderful folk we probably wouldn't be in this competition. 
OUR Caretaker's name is Denny and he is amazing with the children. We are also very lucky to have him as he is as keen about sustainability as we are and he is always happy to share his knowledge with others. Denny looks after our chickens and has taken on the role of Head Bee Keeper very keenly - he has even set up a hive at home! Denny built our gardens and works with the children in the gardens on a daily basis, teaching them how to plant, where to plant and how to water the plants (a VERY important skill!)
We are very lucky to have Denny at Opua School and I am sure other schools have great caretakers!!

Flowers + Bees = FOOD

We are very mindful of the need to nurture the bee population, both our school's hive and the 'wild' bees that are out and about. The children and staff have been learning about the honey bees plight and it's battle against the verroa mite. Ooooh - rhyming!

Denny and a pupil check the hive for signs of honey production and they are also giving the hive a once over to check everything was alright. It surely takes a hawk eye to spot the Queen Bee! Soon they will be venturing out and gorging themselves on our wild flower pollen to take back to the hive. We are hopeful that the bees will be encouraged to visit our beans, peas, pumpkins and all our other vegetables. Most of the classes have been learning about the different parts of a flower and the importance of bees in our eco-system.

Bees are AMAZING creatures!

Here is a sample of our Bee Magnets - the flowers in the pots, not the pupils!!

Otherwise Fine...Otherwise it's Dandy

Apart from the corn seedlings with cold feet the rest of the garden is looking great!
It certainly helps to have 30 dedicated weeders and planters!
You can see an arch in the background, it is for our runner beans which are already 20cm tall.
The winter veges are still being harvested, our broad beans are beginning to pod up but the spring seedlings are taking off too. Last week I wasn't quick enough with the camera and I missed the children and Denny spreading the gardens with Worm TEA. I hope the plants love the juice, because it sure has a potent smell!

The signs are nice too!!

Jack Frost!

Oh dear!

The corn seedlings that we so very carefully looked after have been badly affected by the recent frosts - so we think. They have very stunted growth and are not thriving at all. 
It was decided to leave them in the garden and we will nurture them until the warmer weather brings the growth on. This is a good lesson in learning about learning the correct time of the season to plant certain plants. They should have a good root system by the time they are taller!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This morning we were surprised to have a BIG truck pull up outside the school gates and deliver a big brown box! Imagine our surprise and bewilderment to see that it was chock full of healthy, happy seedlings from ZEALANDIA! We weren't expecting this!

There were climbing beans, purple and 'violet' cauliflowers, a funky looking broccoli, pak choi, round carrots that look like orange radishes, mustard greens and onions!

Weeding and clearing of the winter crops will now begin in earnest so we can find enough space for these delicious veg.

(at least we think TUI sent them to us?!? There was no note...)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cooking our Winter Veg

The children decided that the best use of the produce would be to cook a crustless quiche.
They sliced up the silverbeet, broke down the broccoli into small florets and cut the brussel sprouts in half. The broccoli was blanched on boiling water, then refreshed in very cold water to keep the lovely green colour.

A small amount of flour was tossed in with the silverbeet and this mixture was put in a greased dish with the broccoli and brussel sprouts and cheese.

Eggs, salt, pepper, milk and parsley were all mixed together and poured over the top of the vegetables.

After 30 minutes in the oven we had a lovely golden brown quiche which was served up to the children of Room 4.

The beetroot was cut into cubes, dressed with salt, petter and butter then roasted in the oven. This was a hit with the class (and staff) as most children had only ever tried beetroot from a can!

Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, math, language arts (e.g., through garden journaling), visual arts (e.g., through garden design and decoration), and nutrition (e.g. cooking with food they know where it has come from and have had a hand in growing/nurturing)

Harvesting the Winter Crop

The class decided that it was time to harvest some of the winter crop. In addition to needing the space in the garden for the spring planting they were excited about the prospect of cooking a quiche with the (organic) veges from our garden and (free range) eggs from our chickens!
The girls harvested 2 heads of broccoli, silverbeet, brussel sprouts and beetroot.

The broccoli stems and beetroot tops went to the chickens - who seemed to love the extra kai!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week 3 - Strawberries

At Mitre 10 the boys saw some very healthy strawberry plants for a very reasonable price. These are a very rewarding crop and are fun to grow too! It was decided that the best place to plant them was around the base of the Green Cone system. Warm, sunny and VERY rich soil.

We will be planting more strawberry plants over the next few weeks - so the fruit can be enjoyed for a longer period of time.

More about the Green Cone System if anyone is interested:
This system is what the manufacturers call a “solar-powered” digester. If situated in a sunny part of your garden the Green Cone system will work 365 days of the year, using heat from the sun it creates a trap of circulating air that increases the bacteria growth – thereby digesting the scraps quickly and turning it into a rich soil conditioner.

Week 3 - The Sun Came Out!

We had a break in the bleak weather yesterday and 3 pupils from Room 4 made the most of it and planted dwarf beans and corn seedlings. The beans were purchased from Mitre 10 but the children have raised the corn from seed.

We do realise that it may be a bit too early to plant these veges but it is our wish that the children get to harvest some of the produce BEFORE the Christmas holidays. The gardnening team will be gathering leaves, twigs and bark etc to use as a mulch, to keep the plants warm and the dirt moist. If we are lucky Denny may do some pruning and put it through his mulcher!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 3 - The TUI Voucher has Arrived!!

Late last week I commented on the mildness of the weather and even said it felt like spring was nearly upon us. WELL I may have
been a bit premature!
Although we are too far north for snow it has been bitterly cold and we have had 2 frosts which laid claim to some of our precious tomato
seedlings. I am sure many gardens down south have suffered worse fates!

On Monday we received a fantastic package from Tui! The children were all very excited to look through the gardening book and they are keen to use it for new ideas for our gardens.

Today (Wednesday) 5 pupils from Room 4 went on a road trip to Kawakawa to visit Malcolm and his team at Kawakawa Mitre 10. We were warmly welcomed and Malcolm Francis (the proprietor) took the boys 'shopping' for the items on the voucher. It was the best shopping trip ever! Free Stuff! We got seedling trays, Tui Seed Raising mix, Trowels, a 30 metre hose, a sprinkler and hose fittings and more!

The boys were very grateful to Tui and Mitre 10 and they promised Malcolm that they would definitely look after the new equipment (and they will by crikey!)

With the weather being so cold and bleak the gardeners have not been out in the garden this week. But they have been planning where to plant this years crop of peas and beans. The propagator is being put to good use in the classroom.