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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Week 2 - Rest of the week!

The children have been coming up with ideas for new gardens and with the help of Denny (well, actually, a lot of help) they created 2 new sites on the side of a east facing bank behind the school fence. The children thought that this garden will get all-day sun and it is also handy to a water supply (a hose) so the garden is easy to water in the summer months.

The site was 'surveyed' and then pegged out. The hard work of breaking the ground and preparing the bed was shared by the hard working gardeners. Blood and Bone and more chook poo was added to the clay soil. (Please note that our young man digging in HIS JANDALS was instructed to bring along some sturdier foorwear! Don't panic)

Mrs Young had purchased 4 Giant Pumpkin seedlings (the seedlings weren't giant - they will produce Giant Pumpkins) so the gardeners lugged 4 tyres into place in readiness for the plants.

Now we have to decide what to plant in these newly created gardens. It WAS going to be Mr Ututaonga's Maori Potatoes but our soil is so rich now it would be better to put in a leafy green vegetable, perhaps beans too! We will keep you posted on that.

We will plant the Peru Peru (Maori potatoes) further up the bank in the old pea bed.

We are looking forward to the Tui/Mitre 10 vouchers arriving in the mail.

Week 2 Tuesday

On Tuesday Brad and Yasith were put to work in the chook house, digging the thick layer of compost from the floor of the pen. The children learnt that it was a wonderful collection of chookie poos and composted vegetable matter. It was full of worms as well!
The children then applied it to the existing vegetable garden which will start to condition the soil just beautifully, getting it ready for our spring planting and also to help the winter vegetables.

Week 2

What a difference the warmer weather has made this week!
It almost feels like spring has sprung....
Monday saw Declan checking out the beehive with Denny the Caretaker. We are planting thousands of wild flower seeds all around the
bank partly for beautification as well as keeping our bees happy. It will also encourage the bees to our vegetable plants in months to come.
We will be harvesting our very own honey in a few short weeks...YUM!

Tui School Garden Challenge - Opua School

In 2010 the pupils and staff at Opua School decided to design and create a vegetable garden. It was a somewhat tricky brief as here at Opua School we have a very small area of spare land. It was finally decided to turn a small patch of an unused grassy area into three raised beds with paths in between. We are very lucky to have a fantastic Caretaker, who helped the children design the area and then went on to build our new vege patch on a very tight budget.

Our PTA was very supportive and arranged for us to take delivery of a GreenCone compost system. 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 your food quickly and turning it into a rich soil conditioner. By using this system in combination with the ‘worm juice’ from our 5 worm farms and the chook-poo from the chickens we keep at Opua School we have the most gorgeous, nutrient rich soil anyone could hope for! (With the help of TUI products of course!!)

We have recently purchased a seed propagator and we are all amazed at the speed at which we can get strong healthy seedlings, ready to plant!

This year the pupils of Room 4 will act as the kaitiaki of the school vegetable patch. They have been busy collaborating with the caretaker, designing the spring/summer planting layout and coming up with new ideas for other parts of the school grounds to be used, for example a pumpkin patch over the bank and peas and beans running up the school boundary fences. This and more to come!

We are excited to be sharing our journey with you all and we look forward to posting new photos over the coming weeks!