Latest SAKG Garden News

Term 2 2014 Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Summary



 A busy first week harvesting cucumbers, carrots, capsicums, basil, coriander, raspberries and zucchinis.  We started pulling out the capsicum bed and planted a bed of peas for a green manure crop.  We made a cut out of a white cabbage moth using an icecream lid and placed it in the cabbage patch.  Apparently it acts as a deterrent for the moth as they are supposed to be territorial and don't like to lay eggs in another moth's patch!  We will continue to spray with Dipel an organic spray that kills the caterpillar.  We talked about the origin of some of the fruit due for harvest in the garden such as Persimmons (Japan) and Quinces (Turkey, Iran).  We also tasted our Tamerillos.


New to our garden:  Tumeric and Indian spice usually grown in more frost free northern climates.  We have chosen a frost free spot so hopefully next year we will harvest Tumeric roots.

                                Midgim Berry which is a native to Australia and we planted it in our Indigenous garden and hope to taste it in the future.

Harvesting: chillies, pumpkins, broccoli, spring onions, herbs, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, quinces, apples, pears, cucuber, zucchinis, borage flowers, raspberries and tamerillos. We harvested our Atlantic Pumpkin for the "Guess the Weight" competition               and10 people guessed the correct weight this year.

Planting:  garlic, tumeric and Midgim berry

Making: Lavender bags for Mother's Day using lavender we dried in late summer.

Found: a new pest in the garden identified as a False Wireworm


Topic:  Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are attracted to plants.  Every insect is different and can be attracted by color, smell and shape of a flower.

Harvesting: lettuce, broccoli, spring onions, raspberries, herbs and the last of the tamerillos and one bed of pumpkins

Jobs: weeding around the tank and pulling out the pumpkin vines

Planting: a bed of cauliflower, snap pea and snow peas.


Topic: Espaliering is a space saving  device, easy to net and it looks great.  We have ordered a dwarf  Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples to be espaliered in term 3 against a fence.

Harvesting: the remaining pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers

Planting: radishes, celery and freckle lettuce and podding peas

Jobs: collecting eggs, turning compost and putting up trellises


It rained for all our classes this week so I brought in my bee box (minus the bees), bee suit, smoker, hive tool and honey comb to taste.  We also watched a You Tube clip on the Bee Waggle Dance which bees do to tell the rest of the hive where the best nectar is.


Topic: World Environment Day June 5- How can we improve the environment for the locally threatened  Squirrel Glider?   I showed them a nesting box and talked about how it takes 100years for a natural hollow to form  so the loss of big trees impacts on their existence.  Baranduda has done a lot of work installing nesting boxes for the Squirrel Glider.

Planting: another green manure crop and a successive crop of carrots and silverbeet.

Harvesting: cauliflower, broccoli, raspberries, oranges, carrots and parsley

Jobs: turning the compost, weeding, pruning Salvias


Topic: Squirrel Gliders

Harvesting: cauliflowers, parsley, oranges to share, spring onions and cabbages.

Jobs: finished building shelves for the garden shed where we will place specimens of garden pests and begin a seed collection.  Weeding the Canna bed.


Topic: What is a fruit and what is a vegetable? Something that has seeds in it is a fruit. So tomatoes and cucumbers are actually fruits.

Jobs: Finished a new irrigation line in the indigenous garden.  Put new straw into the chook nesting boxes.  One of our brave volunteers lifted the clucky chook off the nest to put the straw in.  Collecting leaves for the compost, and topping it up with chook manure.  Cleaned up the old basil bed and mulched it for the winter.

Harvest tally for the term:  Pumpkins, 72kg,  Capsicums 2.8kg, Cucumbers 7.5 kg, Zucchinis 14kg, Quinces 23kg, Carrots 3.45kg, Broccoli 5.5kg, Oranges 12kg, Eggplants 2kg, Apples 4.2kg, Pears 1.4kg, Cabbages 8kg, Cauliflower 1.3kg, Parsnip 2.7kg  GRAND TOTAL FOR TERM  2  160kg!!!


Week 1

This week was wet wet wet!! All the garden classes this week were held in the classroom.  Like the the MYOS students in term 2 we spent our wet day talking about bees.  We discussed what type of bees live in the hive, the different roles of the Queen, Drone and Worker bees.  We went through the main jobs in a year required to keep a hive and when and how the honey is harvested.  We discussed the different types of eqiupment used by beekeepers, such as smokers, hive tools, gloves, bee suit and bee brush.  We also tasted some honey.


Week 2

Topic:Who is Foodshare and Foodbank?  What do they do? What can we do to help other people who may be hungry? We can grow a bed of potatoes and donate them to Foodshare.

Jobs: We planted a dwarf Pink Lady apple and espaliered it against a fence.  We cleaned out all the old cauliflowers and broccoli from their beds and shovelled in some lovely compost back onto the beds, followed by a thick layer of straw mulch.  These beds are now ready for spring planting in a couple of months.   We bottled worm juice from the worm farm.  This makes a beautiful organic fertliser when diluted with water.  We also turned the compost.  Diary group had to measure the foodbank potato bed and calculate how many potatoes I would need to buy to plant, based on the sowing recommendations of plant and row spacings.  They also had to make an estimation on how many potatoes they think we may harvest.  Lastly we cut back many of the Salvias that grow in the garden.

Harvest: This week we harvested naval oranges, blood oranges,  cabbages, carrots, parsley and mint.

Week 3

Topic: Grafting.  We made a fruit salad tree. We discussed why we graft, when we graft and how we graft. Wodonga Tafe gave us the apricot and plumcot scion to graft onto the nectarine tree.  One of our volunteers Sally demonstrated and helped some of the students graft a plumcot and apricot on to a nectarine tree using the bud graft method.  It will be interesting to see in the Spring if the grafts grow.

Jobs: We continued with the bottling of worm juice.  We pruned the Autumn fruiting raspberries, turned over the compost, cut back the salvias and geranium and each class this week also did the calculations for the Foodshare potato bed like the MYOS students did the week before.

Harvest: We harvested cabbages, carrots(the students love harvesting carrots), mint, parsley and blood oranges to cut up and share at the end of the garden class. 


TOPIC : We continued with the grafting, this time we grafted a Pink Lady apple and a Granny Smith onto a Crab Apple.

JOBS: We planted Spring Onions, cut back more salvias and geraniums, cleaned Crimson Broad beans and Scarlet Runner bean seeds, cut rosemary stems to dry for potpourri bags, pruned fruit trees, shared Lemonade Lemons and wrote a continous story in the diary.

HARVEST:We harvested cabbages, carrots, mint, parsley and blood oranges to cut up and share at the end of the garden class.


TOPIC: It is Science week next week and so we tested the pH of different products such as vinegar, bicarb soda and egg white using the liquid of from boiled purple cabbages.  When we added vinegar the purple cabbage water changed to pink. When we added bicarb soda and egg whites the solution turned a darker blue. This due to the anthocyanins in the cabbage leaves which give the leaves their color.  We talked the importance of having a control in an experiment, so that you can use it as a comparison. This topic tied in well with one of the activities for the week which was soil testing. 

JOBS: Soil testing the beds in preparation for the Spring planting which is just around the corner - hooray!.  The students really enjoyed this activity and those in the soil testing group all get to have a turn and make a recommendation based on the results.  All our soils were relatively neutral and therefore did not require any additions such as lime.  One person from the soil testing group at the end of class had to demonstrate to the rest of the class how to conduct a soil test.

Ben showing the class how to do a soil test.


We as usual turned the compost, mulched our late bed of cauliflowers, packaged seeds for future markets, planted a granny smith against a fence to espallier, wrote more continuous stories, planted Spring Onions.

HARVEST: We harvested MORE of the never ending cabbages,carrots, mint and shared some lemonade lemons at the end of class.



TOPIC: We continued the cabbage pH experiment with the MYOS students.

JOBS: We raked up all the oak leaves down at the back of the garden for the compost, we began digging in the pea green manure crop, we planted freckle lettuce and had a general clean up with activites such as pulling down old passionfruit vines and removing old pots.  In diary the students had to calulate if it was more economical for the school to buy free range eggs or own our chooks and get our own eggs.  The students came up with some eggsellent results.  Taking into account the price of layer pellets, the amount of eggs we get per year, the price of bought free range eggs etc it worked out that we save $1012.00 /year by having our own chooks(assuming our hens on average lay 10 eggs/day).

HARVEST: This week we harvested Jerueselum Artichokes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, thyme, mint, coriander and mandarins to share.  


TOPIC Spring has arrived and it is such a beautiful time in the garden.  It is also a busy time as we plan what fruit and vegetables we need to plant that will provide us with a bountiful harvest over the summer.  We had a group discussion and everyone made suggestions on what we should plant in the Spring.  The students had a great understanding of what we should plant and came up with the following extensive list;

Capsicum, tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkins, zuchinnis, cucumbers, beans, basil, spring onions,corn, rockmelon to name a few..

JOBS The students recycled some old rings out of a rotten wine barrell pot and made a sphere garden sculpture.  It started off as a bee( a suggestion by one of the students), however this was proving difficult with the materials we had.  One of our creative volunteers Kirsty suggested a sphere and the students had a lot of fun putting it together.


We dug in a bed of peas which we had grown as green manure crop.  This will now compost down in the garden bed and provide nitrogen and other nutrients for the following summer crop.  We planted another bed of radishes, turned the compost, cleaned some seed, pruned the cannas and shared some of the garden's manadarins at the end of class. 

HARVEST: We continued with the harvesting of artichokes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, thyme, coriander and mint.



TOPIC: We again discussed what to plant in Spring.  We also talked about what the students may plant in their gardens at home.  It is always exciting to hear the students speak enthusiastically about what is going in their back yard patch over the summer.  We had a quite a few excess Scarlett Runner Bean seeds, which one class were able to share between themselves.  Hopefully a few bean seeds growing up the back fence may lead to bigger things such as the establishment of a vegie bed in their own garden.. One of the students has been wanting to plant a few raspberry canes in his garden.  We had a few spare so I sent home a few canes with his mum this week. There is something very special about picking your own raspberries, I hope he enjoys them.

JOBS:We planted provider bush beans and another bed of carrots. We mulched the flower beds with straw to prevent the weeds from taking over and to store some moisture.  The last green manure bed was dug in and the compost was turned over.  The compost was quite warm in the middle which demonstrated to the students how this was a result of the compost decomposing.  The students measured up a bed that needs a new irrigation line.  They had to think of the all the parts I would need such as elbows, clamps etc and write me a shopping list.  A group cleaned and sharpened most of the secateurs and a couple of students demonstrated this to the class.  We found a baby Blue tongue lizard in the garden.  We are happy to have these creatures in the garden as they eat slugs and snails.


The diary group had to pretend that they had to move to a new island that had only fresh water.  They had to to write a list of all the items they would take(including animals) to start a new life and be completely self sufficient. We planted lettuce in wicking boxes made from from foam brocolli boxes. 

HARVEST: We harvested lettuce, carrots, coriander, parsley and cabbage.

WEEK 9: The first two classes for this week were wet.  We had our garden session in the classroom.  We did a taste illusion experiment, whereby the students had two drinks which were the same flavour(they didn't know this)  I added food dye to one which made it a different color. The students had to taste both drinks and write down what they thought the flavour was.  Most students thought the drink with the dye was a different flavour.  This allowed us to discuss how we can have preconceived ideas on what something may taste like just because of how it looks.

   TERM 4

Week 1

Our lead in topic for the next two weeks was a discussion on beans.  When to plant the different types of beans eg broad beans in the winter and the remaining beans in the spring/summer.  We discussed the different growing habits eg bush/dwarf beans and climbing beans.  We had a look many of the different colored bean seeds.  We planted a bed of Borlotti beans which we will leave until they are fuuly mature and dry.  We will then see if they can be used in the kitchen to make a dish using dried beans eg minestrone.

We planted three varities of zuchinnis and harvested beetroot, herbs, asparagus and lemons. We began putting in an irrigation line around the tank.  We also cleaned dry rosemary for an activity later in the year.  We fertilised the fruit trees and made some paper pots. 

Week 2

 We discussed beans again.  Finished the irrigation line, dug holes for the mosaic pillars we are placing in the garden. The capsicums were planted, fruit fly netting was placed over fruit trees and the chook pen was scraped out.


Week 3

It was National Water week this week and we took the opportunity to discuss Salinity.  We discussed what causes it, what are the consequences of salinity on food production and what can be done to prevent it.  We did an experiment whereby we tested three different levels of saline water on some bean seeds.  The students in Ms Pearls class then observed the germination rate and growth rate of the beans with the varying levels of saline water.  We talked about how to run an experiment discussing hypothesis, materials,method, treatments and controls.  The experiment proved that the seeds with the higher salt solution did not germinate very well(1 out of 10 seeds) and they were of poor vigour.

Two mosaic poles were put in place. 

We harvested broan beans, cauliflower, herbs and asparagus. We planted corn and bean seeds and basil seedlings.  The diary group wrote information about salinity.  The compost was turned.

We shared as a class this seasons new crop of white mulberries, which the students think look a bit like a caterpillar but tastier!


Week 4

We discussed salinity again with the MYOS students.  We planted one of our tomato beds, planted a bed of potatoes  and a chilli plant.  We netted more fruit trees for fruit fly and finished putting in the concrete poles for the mosaics.  One of the groups started making flower presses and another group assembled our new chook feeder, which will hopefully reduce chook food being wasted and eaten by sparrows.  The chooks have to step on a platform to make the feeder open, hopefully they are clever enough after some training to work it out!

Another group built a frame to go over the tomato bed, so that it can be easily netted.


Week 5

Our lead in topic for the next two weeks was fruit fly.  We discussed their lifecycle, what damage they do, what fruit and vegetables they attack and how to control them.  We only had one class this week due to a public holiday.  We planted pumpkins.  We made paper pots and planted sunflowers in them.  We harvested broad beans, spring onions, silverbeet, mint,loquats and white mulberries.

We mulched capsicums, filled up the fruit fly traps, turned the compost and wrote in the diary about the lifecycle of the fruit fly.


Week 6

We conducted a pollinator count, whereby the students in one group had to each sit by a plant and record the number of pollinating insects that visited that plant plant over a 10 minute period.  European honeybees, hoverflies and butterflies were by far the most common pollinator.  We harvested the same from the garden as last week.  The second tomato bed was planted and netted.  Mulch was placed on the potato and bean beds.  The students removed some old lettuces and celery plants.  We also harvested half of the garlic bed.

Week 7

For the next two weeks the lead in topic was about sugar.  We discussed what food has sugar, why we need sugar in our diet, what happens if we consume more sugar than our body requires.  We looked at a simple chart which places sugar cubes under various processed foods and fruit and vegetables.  We also touched on how certain so called healthy foods such as low fat yoghurt  can actually be really high in sugar.  One of the groups in the MYOS classes had to read the label of a packet of biscuits and work out how many sugar cubes would be in each serving and what kind of exercise would require that amount of energy.

We pulled out the last of the broadbean plants and harvested the remaining loquats, which unfortunately had fruit fly in them.  We pulled the remaining fruit off the tree and placed it in a rubbish bag and left in the sun for a week to kill all the larvae before placing it in the bin.  We have since reduced the size of the tree so that next year we can net it.  We harvested the remaining garlic.

We shared loads of beautiful berries at the end of class.


Week 8

We harvested most of the remaining parsnips, carrots and beetroot for the volunteers thankyou dinner that was delicious(Thanks Mrs Kenny for the wonderful dinner!!) .  We planted another couple of rows of corn, and planted watermelon seeds.

It was a busy week for pulling out old plants such as silverbeet and chopping them up for the compost.

We made thankyou cards for the volunteers by smashing flowers between two sheets of material with a rubber mallet and then glueing the material onto some cardboard.  The students enjoyed making various patterns with different plant material.


Week 9

This is the last garden class for 3/4 students this week.  We took the opportunity to discuss what they enjoy doing in the garden and what they may like to do next year.  We harvested zucchinis, and cherries.  Extended the irrigation line to the espalliered apples, we shared poppy seeds to take home, we gave the beds a fertilise with rocket fuel.  We finished making thankyou cards and turned the compost.  We planted some Scarlet Runner beans and shared a bowl of our own delicious cherries.  This was the first year we have harvested cherries, they were a bit of a hit.


Week 10

This was the last garden week for the MYOS students.  We harvested zucchinis, carrots and parsnips.  We did  a bit of a tidy up with some loads to the skip, sweeping and raking.  We planted the last of the pumpkins.  We finished the flower presses. We collected some seeds from some poppies we have been saving for seed.  We did some remulching of beds and gave the compost a final turn. We broke into groups and did a blind taste test of some of our herbs in the garden.  Once we had worked out what the herb was we then chatted about how you would use the herb in cooking.  It was great to see the students knowledge of the many different herbs and their uses.  We picked flowers for the teachers who bring the students into the garden.  The students made cards, picked a beautiful bunch of flowers and  gave our volunteers are jar of jam, to say thankyou for all the wonderful time and effort they provide to the SAKG program.

At Wodonga West Primary School we are so lucky to have such a fabulous team of volunteers, who bring so much to the garden and to the students.    

2014 has been a wonderful year in the garden and we look forward to sharing it again next year. 


Term 1

Week 1

Well it was a lovely summer break in the garden and everything is growing like crazy.  It was great to have the students back in the garden, with two new classes who haven't been in the garden classes before.

It was also wonderful to hear what vegetables the students had growing in their garden over the summer.

We reviewed how to work safely in the garden, respecting the garden and how to be a learner in the garden.  We harvested tomatoes, capsicums, zucchinis, basil, apples.  We harvested the potato bed which we gave to Foodbank.


Week 2

This week the younger students were in the garden and  we had a mystery vegetable hunt, this was great way for the students to familiarise themselves with what is growing the garden.

We harvested tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, watermelons, capsicums, beans and basil.

We shared one of our own watermelons.

We cleaned the seeds from garden flowers such as poppy's and love in the mist.

We sorted seeds from the different seeds packs into a display tray for easy identification for the students.

We planted snowpeas along the fence, for a tasty treat in the future.

We watered the pot plants.

Week 3

The lead in topic was about the stinkiest bug in the garden the green vegetable bug. Also known as the stink bug or shield bug.  We had a look at the Green Vegetable bug at  different stages in it's growth.  We squashed ones so that the students could smell how potent they are and how their smell is a form of defence.  We talk about why it was a pest in the garden and which plants it prefers to attack and how to control them.

We sowed some beetroot seeds.

Harvested beans, lettuce, basil, zucchinis, herbs and corn.

We shared a couple of our ripe apples.

We placed some flowers in the new flower presses the students made.

The diary group made wanted signs for the green vegetable bug.