Case Study: No room to grow?


Making good use of small space


Marsden Infant and Nursery School


Small tarmac playground and raised beds situated around the edge of the playground.


The school wanted to incorporate growing and tending vegetables and fruit into the routine of the school week. The challenge was how to do this in the raised borders in a small playground. With lots of curious and prying hands at play time, together with the slugs, would the vegetables stand much of a chance?


The answer was to fill the majority of the beds with permanent hardy plants – raspberry & blackcurrant bushes, a dwarf apple tree, strawberry bed and perennial herbs and flowers such as rosemary, sage, fennel, thyme, geraniums and daisies. In the small area left we grow easy food crops, close together – potatoes, climbing beans, leeks, garlic, beetroot, pumpkins - grown upwards on plant supports to keep the plants away from prying hands. Experimenting with safe methods of slug control is a lesson in itself. What will work? eggshells, bran, bottle cloches, sheep’s wool?


We have put up clearly marked signs telling the children and teachers what everything is: a compost bin, a digging area, an apple tree, beans growing here! Even in a small busy space you can pack a lot in.
After many years of trying without success we have been delighted to have some crops to harvest and colourful flowers around our playground. The blackcurrant crumble was a definite tasty treat for our school lunch. It now feels we have made a breakthrough in keeping the slugs at bay and can work with the children to nurture things that ‘grow’. Thank you
Frances Swallow, Headteacher, Marsden Infant and Nursery School, Marsden