Category Archives: Gardening

The Gardening Committee have done it AGAIN

MANY, MANY THANKS to the Parents’ Association’s Gardening Committee. They make the school year so interesting for us and great fun. Today they organised us planting vegetables in the school garden. Take a look at the slide show below to see more. Thanks to Ms. Murray for taking the photographs. Click on THIS LINK to see other posts about gardening in the school.

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Green Schools – Project Hyacinth Updated

In every classroom in the school ‘PROJECT HYACINTH’ is blooming. Since late November, when the parents from the Gardening Committee delivered a hyacinth bulb to every classroom the children have been watching their progress.

Many of the blooms were pink. Some were blue. We were very interested to see how some grew quickly and some were slower. Some grew very tall and some stayed small. We wondered why this was. A very surprising thing happened to some. After the first flower bloomed and withered, a second one grew. We would like to thank the Gardening Committee for this exciting project.

 

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Project Hyacinth

Day 365+7 Wouter de Bruijn via Compfight
In every classroom in the school ‘PROJECT HYACINTH’ has started to bloom. In late November, the parents from the Gardening Committee delivered a hyacinth bulb to every classroom. They have been sitting in water in glass jars under little cardboard ‘hats’ to fool them into blooming. The first thing we noticed were little white roots growing down into the water. If we lift the ‘hats’ we can see a little green shoot. We are excited to have the hyacinths growing in our classrooms. We wonder what colour ours will be. We would like to thank the Gardening Committee for our hyacinths: ‘the gift that keeps on giving’.
Click on THIS LINK to see the beginning of the story and HERE to see February’s update.

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A New Arrival to Our School Grounds – A Beautiful Silver Birch

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Renewed thanks to our exceptional gardening committee. They are forever coming up with great ideas to make our school an even better place to be. As well as looking after the school grounds, they do so much more.

  • For example they showed students how to grow vegetables and harvested them.
  • They have created a special outdoor classroom.
  • They commissioned a ‘Buddy Bench’ (made from recycled wooden pallets) where children who have no one to play with can sit until their friends find them.
  • The Gardening Committee caused great excitement when they put a special Halloween scarecrow in the school garden.
  • In this bleak mid winter, they gave each class a hyacinth for the teacher’s desk to bring sunshine to our classrooms.
  • Recently they planted a silver birch trees in the school grounds. Michael the school caretaker helped.

We think the silver birch was a great choice as it is beautiful all year round.

  • In Winter, even though it is deciduous and has no leaves the colour of its bark and the patterns on it are beautiful.
  • In Spring the leaves are a fresh light green and these darken as the year turns to Summer.
  • Then in Autumn the silver birch is colourful with vibrant yellow leaves.
  • Then there are the 500 or so insect species that use the silver birch as a habitat all year round.

Many thanks to the Gardening Committee for another super addition to our school grounds.

We have very little space, but with thought and imagination it has been made a much greener and better place to be.

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Trees in our School Grounds – The Umbrella Tree

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We have an Umbrella Tree in our school yard. In the Summer when there are lots of leaves, it really works. If you go under it when it is raining you stay dry.

We think it is a weeping willow. It is very beautiful. In Spring there are catkins on the tree. Catkins are furry flowering spikes that hang down. They are soft to touch, but much better not to pick them but to leave them to grow. The catkins fall off and the leaves grow then. It is a good looking and interesting tree.

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A Harvest of Gourds

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This is a harvest of gourds. They grew in the school garden. You can see them growing in the school garden HERE. When asked some students thought they were peppers or pumpkins.

In some countries people eat gourds. But usually people dry out the gourds to make decorations for flower arrangements or musical instruments (like shakers).

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Green Schools: Biodiversity: Guest Post: Growing Monterey Pine Trees From Seed

Growing Monterey Pine Trees From Seed

by Emily H

INTRODUCTION

My project is to show how I grew Monterey pines from seed.

I did this project because I have always had an interest in growing things from a very young age.

It was helped along when my Granddad contacted the former Mayor George Jones

to see if he would be interested in having some of the trees I had already planted

and succeeded in growing for the Greystones community.

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Mr Jones agreed and now as you can see from press cuttings.

there is one of my trees in Burnaby Park opposite the train station

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and also they took some of my trees and planted them along Shoreline car park.

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I am very proud of these trees and so I thought that I could grow some more for my science project for school

METHOD

Gather pine cones and place them in the full sun to dry them out. Once dried they will open up for easier retrieval of the seeds.

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Place the cones on a paper towel and roll them gently until the seeds fall out.

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Place the seeds in a container with room temperature of water.

The ones that sink will be the best growers.

Plant the seed in pots, pointed end down and cover with soil.

Keep watering and when the seeds fall off they can be transplanted to a larger container.

I will be keeping a diary following the progress of the trees.

Day 1

Date : 12.6.13

I planted the seeds in the compost pointed side down and watered them.

Day 2

Date : 13.6.13

Still no progress will be back in 2 weeks.

Day 11

Date : 25.6.13

We have our first Monterey shoot. The seed is still on the top.

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Day 12 

Date : 26.6.13

We have our second seed shoot. Also seed on top, First seedling has now lost its seed.

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Day 19

Date: 3.7.13

We now have 13 Monterey pine tree shoots.

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Day 25

Date: 9.7.13

We have 17 Monterey pine tree shoots.

Day 35

Date: 19.7.13

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The trees are growing fast.

Day 45

Date: 29.7.13

Still progressing well.

Day 55

Date: 8.8.13 

Strong and healthy trees growing fast.

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Day 65

Date: 18.8.13

Progressing well.

Day 75

Date: 28.8.13

Nearing end of project the trees are strong and healthy.

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About Monterey Pines

The Monterey pine, also known as the Radiata pine is a species of pine native to the coast of California. It’s the most widely planted pine in the world, valued for rapid growth and desirable lumber and pulp qualities.

Its native to 3 very limited areas located in Santa Cruz, Monterey peninsula, and San Luis Obispo counties. In Australia, New Zealand and Spain it is the leading introduced tree and in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Kenya and South Africa it is a major plantation species.

Monterey pine has a very small natural range on the central Californian coast, south of San Fransico and on Guadalupe and Cerdros islands off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.

Monterey pine grows best on deep, rich, dry soils or on infertile sandy soil types. It has also shown promise on old red sandstone soil in Munster. It will not do well on wet, shallow ground. It grows vigorously and is known to have a longer growing season than other conifers. In Ireland, Monterey’s commonly suffers from the ”yellows”, a disease sometimes associated with the fungus cyclaneusma minus which results in the yellowing and loss of all the previous years’ needles.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Cutler via Compfight

CONCLUSION

I found this project very satisfying because I enjoy growing and the output of this project will have a long term effect on the environment.

They help the environment by a number of factors:

1)     Trees reduce Carbon Dioxide – the same way humans breathe oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide, trees breathe in Carbon Dioxide and exhale Oxygen.  This Carbon Dioxide becomes sugars that can be eaten, burnt for fuel or enjoyed in its leafy form.

2)     Trees reduce ozone levels – In  large cities a reduction in ozone can mean milder temperatures and more breathable air.

3)     Trees reduce erosion by their roots keeping soil from washing away but also they absorb and store water.

4)     Trees provide an ecosystem for animals and insects  by providing a home and  food for them.

Every tree is a potential life-saver to certain species

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Well done Emily. Thank you for making Greystones a better place.

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National Tree Week!

Photo Credit: RainerSchuetz via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: RainerSchuetz via Compfight cc

 

It’s National Tree Week or Seachtain Náisiúnta na gCrann from 2nd – 8th March.

Coillte logoEvents are organised by The Tree Council of Ireland and include:

• Lots of free Tree walks
• Tree planting
• Music about Trees
• Poetry about Trees
• Paintings about Trees
• Stories about Trees
• Lectures about Trees
• Laughs about Trees

 

For more information go to www.treecouncil.ie.

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A collection of photos from our journey towards earning our Green Flag for Biodiversity.

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Calling all Gardeners!

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It’s time to get the school garden ready for Spring. So grab your gloves and trowels for our Gardening Day.

We’ll be sowing seeds, planting flowers and vegetables and generally tidying up our window boxes, flower pots and raised beds.

Parents, minders, grandparents and anyone with green fingers are all welcome.

Day: Monday 3rd February

Time: 1:40pm

Meet: The big yard

Supervision: Little ones will be looked after in one of the classrooms.

Please note if its raining we will reschedule to Wednesday 5th February .

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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A new species in our School garden!

You may have noticed that The Green Team planted an Apple Tree in our school garden.

But there is something extra special about our apple tree!

We decided that since space is limited in our school grounds that we would get a special type of Apple tree. It’s a miniature Apple tree so it takes up less space but that’s not what is so special about it. You see it is two apple trees graphed together. This mean two different types of apple tree are stuck together or grafted on to each other which makes two trees in one. The two species are Elstar (which produces red apples) and James Grieve (which produces yellow apples).

Did you know that for an apple tree to bear fruit( i.e apples) you need two apples trees to cross-pollinate with each other. We don’t have the space for two trees so we bought this tree. The great thing about this is that not only will the different apple trees cross-pollinate with each other to make apples but we will get two different types of apples. So more apples for the birds  and insects and for us!

The apples will fruit in Autumn. Bags the first one!

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Our Habitat Map 2013

On Wednesday 4th December, the Green Team ventured out into the yard armed with pencils and a map of the school grounds to make our Habitat Map.

The weather was sunny but cold (approx 6 degrees C).

We made a Habitat Map when we first started our Green theme on Biodiversity in Novemeber 2012 so our aim was to indicate on our new map all the hard work we have done to improve the Biodiversity around the school. For example, we noted all the new bird feeders, bird boxes, insect homes, leaf  and log piles we set up. We also listed the new raised beds with our vegetable, wildflower and scented flower patches. We also needed to update our map to show the changes to the school grounds because of the building work e.g. moving the bins, relocate the bird feeding station, moving the log pile, etc.

Stay tuned for our new map which will be displayed on the Green schools noticeboard.

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How the building work at our school has affected the Biodiversity around us.

 

There is a new species that has taken up residence in our school grounds. Has anyone spotted them?? They wear hard hats and high visibility jackets and come and go in big trucks and lorries.

Yes the builders are here!

We are very lucky in St. Brigid’s to have the builders in to build us four new classrooms but how has this work affected the biodiversity in our school grounds?

The Green schools committee thought of the following:

  • Noise may have scared away some species.
  • Dust can affect animal and plants.
  • Habitats have been disturbed or removed.
  • Our Bird feeding station had to be moved.
  • Our log pile had to be relocated.
  • Plants, shrubs and trees were removed thus removing species and habitats.
  • Flowers which attracted insects have been removed.
  • Less space and even less green area.
  • Less access.
  • Our bicycle racks have been temporarily removed.
  • Our water butt has temporarily put into storage.

 

We all agree that the building work has caused big changes but are there any positives??

  • More classrooms and better classrooms.
  • Better insulation so less energy spent on heating.
  • Brighter rooms so less energy spent on electricity.
  • A bigger and better storage area for our bikes which means more students can cycle or scoot to school.

Can you think of any ways the building work has affected the school’s environment? 

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Wicklow has the tallest tree in Ireland!

The tallest tree in Ireland

The tallest tree in Ireland

 

A Douglas Fir tree in Powerscourt has been named as Ireland’s tallest tree. It stands 202 feet or 61.5 metres high. That is taller than Liberty Hall in Dublin! Think of all the biodiversity that could be found on that tree!

If you want to see this magnificent tree you can find it on Powerscourt’s River walk.

For more information go to  http://blog.powerscourt.ie

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The best flowers to attract bees!

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Researchers in Sussex University have used an experimental garden to put pollinator-friendly plants to the test.

They found that borage, lavender, marjoram and open-flower dahlias were very good for insects.

The wallflower was also very attractive to pollinators, while the least attractive flowering plant for insects was the geranium.

Marjoram was probably the best “all-rounder”, attracting honey bees, bumble bees, other bees, hover flies, and butterflies.

Borage was the best for honey bees and lavender and open-flowered dahlias were most attractive to bumblebees.

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‘Eat Local’ Day! (The Belgian Day)

Dear Irish green friends,

Here are some pictures of our little fruit shop.

The ‘Badeendjes’, our climate action group of pupils, decorated a little fruit shop during playtime and they distributed fruit to anyone who wants it.

We asked the children and their parents to bring us fruit and vegetables from their own garden.

We had some pears left from our Tutti Frutti day. Tutti Frutti is a health project in Belgium : the children receive a piece of fruit every week, sponsored by the government and the local authority. This free fruit is not always local fruit, so we asked to keep in mind that every year in October we take action for ‘eat locally’ and they will deliver a Belgian apple or pear next year.

We received a lot of walnuts, apples and of course grapes ! In Overijse grapes are a speciality, although they are mostly cultivated in heated hot-houses. Not so eco-friendly.

We sent out  the message that our food often travels a lot of kilometers and by eating local food, we reduce the CO2 produced during transport.

Best regards,

Joëlle Erkens

Gemeentelijke Basisschool Overijse

Please note: The green team are having a few technical problems!! Photographs to follow.

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‘Eat local’ Day! (The Irish day)

The Green Team with locally grown fruit and vegetables.

The Green Team with locally grown fruit and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Belgian friends in Overijse suggested that we join them in celebrating International Eat Local Day on Wednesday 16th October and we were delighted to take part.

It was all about reducing food miles and our carbon footprint, eating locally grown fruit and vegetables and produce in season.

The food we buy in the supermarket often travels a lot of miles/kilometers to get to the shelves so by eating local food, we can help to reduce the CO2 produced during transport and in doing so help the environment.

We had beetroot, scallions, carrots, potatoes and leeks from the School vegetable garden.

The Happy Pear, our local organic fruit and veg shop, donated fruit and vegetables that were grown locally in County Wicklow – strawberries, tomatoes, chillies, apples, cooking apples and pears.

Supervalu, our local Irish supermarket, donated Irish-grown potatoes, courgettes, butternut squash and kale.

We compared the food miles, packaging, transport and energy used to get a banana from Costa Rica versus beetroot from our school garden, apples from Delgany (3km away) and a butternut squash from Ireland.

We look forward to seeing how the School in Overijse got on with their day.

A big thank you to the Happy Pear and Supervalu for all their help.

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A letter from Our Belgian Friends!

Here is a letter from our Belgian friends in Overijse with some suggestions for future work together:

 

Dear Irisch friends

 

I think it’s really great that you would like to communicate with us about the things you do for the environment. Our pupils will see that what we do here is not an isolated action, but is a worldwide concern and topic in other schools too.

 

Here is our planning for this schoolyear :

 

We subscribed on the website http://www.goodplanet.be/goodplanetactions/nl/

and we ‘ll participate at the 5 following actions :

 

–          Wednesday Oct 16 : Eet lokaal (eat locally)

–          Tuesday Nov 19 : Zero Afval (zero garbage)

–          Friday Feb 14 : Watt minder (less energy)

–          Friday March 21 : Wereldwaterdag@school (world waterday)

–          Friday April 25 : 1m² Biodiversiteit (1m² Biodiversity)

 

For the first action, we ask the parents to bring us autumn fruit and vegetables from their own garden. The ‘Badeendjes’, our climate action group of pupils, will decorate a little fruitshop during playtime and they will distribute this fruit to anyone who wants it.

We will give the message that our food often travels a lot of kilometers and by eating local food, we reduce the CO2 produced during transport.

Would you consider to organize these 5 same actions at your school so that we can exchange ideas, experiences and results ? We can show pictures and talk about our ‘partnership’ for the environment to our students.

 

Hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,

 

Joëlle Erkens

Gemeentelijke Basisschool Overijse

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We have a Guest Blogger!

A big welcome to Jessica Wang, a freelance writer from Bath who wants to tell us all ‘How to use our school garden as a Biology class’.

Jessica is currently working on a project called Plant finder, which you can see here: http://www.coblands.co.uk/knowledge-base/plant-finder.   This tool helps you to find the right plant for your type of soil and garden.

Here is her article:

Teaching Children about the Environment: How to Use Your School Garden for a Biology Class

Bio: Jessie Wang is a freelance writer and a mother of two. She loves to write about anything associated with the outdoors, especially when it comes to gardening.

Image by Northern Ireland Executive

 

Particularly with the younger ones, hands-on teaching methods can be the most effective in developing their minds. Pupils love to explore and learn by interacting with the world around them, so creating a safe learning environment outside for them to do this in can be a great idea if you have the room at school.

When it comes to teaching children about photosynthesis and plant-life, school gardens can come in very useful. Not only do they provide children a live specimen to look at, they allowthem to follow the reproduction of plants as it progresses through the various stages. Therefore in this post, we’ll be discussing how you can teach your class all about biology and plant reproduction in one fun filled lesson.

 

Introductions

If your class haven’t been taught about photosynthesispreviously, it’s important you give them a little introductory task or talk before taking them outside. With any lesson, children need to be informed of what they should be looking out for or analysing beforehand so that they’re given a focus. And with the more distractible minds, this is all the more crucial.

Provide your children with an explanatory worksheet or video clip introducing them to the topic. This will help them identify certain plant features and processes occurring when they’re outside and ensure they understand what you’re discussing later on in the lesson.

 

Keeping the Peace

Once your pupils have been introduced to the topic, ask them to quietly and calmly prepare to leave the classroom in an orderly fashion. Children can become a little over-enthusiastic at the prospect of leaving the classroom, so ensure that you have complete control before opening the door.

Having children running about the foliage on uneven ground won’t end well. Nor will the plants be much use to you if they’ve been trampled on by multiple pairs of little feet!

 

What’s This?

A great way to get children’s attention is to ask questions. If you spend the majority of the lesson talking at them, they will soon lose interest. Instead get them to explain the situation to you. Have the children congregate around your school garden and ask them to point at various parts of the plant that they’ve been introduced to.

This will reaffirm the knowledge in their minds and help children who are less certain learn through those speaking.

You could even involve them in the selection process and use a plant finder like this one from Coblands to demonstrate how certain plants are better suited to different conditions.

 

Using Your Surroundings

Upon venturing outside, you will (or should) notice that there are various insects to observe in your school garden. And more apparently, you will notice the current weather conditions. Both of these can make for great teaching tools when educating your pupils about photosynthesis.

By encouraging your pupils to observe the insects, you can introduce them to how insects aid the process of photosynthesis and how plant leaves are directed in positions where they can best capture the sun’s rays – and the rain!

 

Dissection

No outdoors lesson can be complete without giving kids thechance to touch and dissect a couple of plants. By allowing your pupils to do this (under your supervision) you can better show them the inner workings of the plants; providing them a way in which they can demonstrate their learning.

Of course, if the weather is poor – it may be better to do this inside. However, if it’s reasonable weather it could save you a lot of clearing up. So, after the children have dug out their selected plant, slice it in half and encourage them toinvestigate the plant themselves.

 

Reflection

In order to establish how much your children have learnt, provide them with a “fill in the blanks” worksheet featuring diagrams of plants similar to those seen outside. Ask the children to label what each part of the plant does and get them to draw and note how various insects (these can be based on the ones you saw earlier) play a role in the process.

These diagrams, if kept colourful and neat, will make for great wall displays and a useful teaching resource, reminding the children of what they learnt in that lesson.

 

The outdoors can be one of the greatest teaching tools you’ll ever have. And, just by changing your pupils’ learning environment once in a while, you can benefit their learning by enhancing their interest. Children would much rather observe and learn from the real thing than from a textbook.

So put your school garden to good use this year by teaching your pupils not only about biology but about their general surroundings; helping them to identify the flora and faunaaround them in an education that will benefit them in and out of the classroom.

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Our New Green School Wardens!

 

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Our new Wardens look after the following areas in our school:

  • Compost – Adam and Nadine check that the compost bins contain no litter and empty the class compost bins into the big compost.
  • Litter  – Zac and Ed help ensure that the school grounds are free from litter and show students where to put their waste.
  • Water – Sive and Jack remind all the classes to turn off the taps and not to waste water.
  • Energy – Erin-Jade and Julia’s job is to get everyone to turn off lights or electrical equipment when they are finished with them.
  • Travel – walk or cycle to school every day which is why they are our travel wardens.
  • Garden -Rita, Keelin, Rory and Jack are our green fingered wardens. They look after the garden, pulling up weeds and watering it.
  • BirdsHannah, Aobha and Heather make sure the bird feeders are full and that the bird tables are clear of stones.
  • Recycling – Alex and Daire remind everyone to recycle plastic, paper and cans.
  • Insects – Emma and Abi check the Insect homes and let us know what they find.
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