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IoW GG links

To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

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Thursday 26 April 2012

Wed 25th April 2012 - St Helens Primary School, St Helens.


Another new venue for the Green Gym this week at St Helens Primary School - our tasks were firstly to tidy up their pond and environmental area and put in some plants.  The second job was to build some raised beds and fill them with soil.  Now you might think this was just another day at the Green Gym except for the weather - it threw it down with rain most of the morning some of which included hail and sleet - but despite this we had twenty plus hardy Green Gymmers turn up and get stuck in.  Also when building the first two of the three raised beds one of the drills' battery decided not to work so we had to share it between us which meant the task took longer than anticipated.  We then had to barrow the peat (which was now soaked by rain and very hard to shovel into said barrows) negotiate seven steep steps, lift the full barrows over a 3ft high wall then tip them into the finished structures - Phew!!.  While this was going on we managed to build the third raised bed, but they will need more peat to fill this one.

I am sorry that the blog looks a little "spread out" this week but Google have decided to upgrade the software. Needless to say, nothing works as it did or as you would expect...!!!!
Many thanks to Mark & Carrie for the photographs and to Carrie for the editorial. I hope that all those who attended on Wednesday have now dried out....

Friday 20 April 2012

Wed 17th April 2012 - Oakfield Primary School, Ryde.

This week saw us back at Oakfield Primary School in Ryde, to carry out some more tasks around the school grounds. The children had been putting in some trees which were supplied in packs by the Woodland Trust along the boundaries of the field. They had a big pile of leaves which had rotted down nicely near the woodland, so our task was to rake them into piles, fill up some barrows and take these some considerable distance to be put round the trees as mulch. The rain which had been threatening all morning emptied down on us all, and some of it was actually hailstones! - good job we were all kitted out in wellies and wetsuits. Also in the school grounds is a beautiful old stone bridge, which they are hoping to incorporate into a woodland trail, but before any assessment can be made about whether this is possible, there were several very large pieces of metal which needed to be cleared from under the bridge. This involved climbing down a very steep - and muddy - bank and hauling them up to the top - these included a wheelbarrow, section of metal spiked fence, plant stand and poles.

Near the bridge we also found a splendid bracket fungus which had been ossified - what happens is the spongy fungus calcifies into a bonelike material and apparently, they were used in the past for messages written in runes - isn't history amazing!!! We have passed it on to the chap who will be doing the forest school who was delighted as he can incorporate this into something interesting for the children.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and editorial.

And finally, a couple of photographs snapped by Mark on his mobile.

Friday 13 April 2012

Wed 11th April 2012 - Christ the King College, Newport.

This week our GG session saw us back at Christ the King College continuing with the work we started there a couple of weeks ago. The tasks this time included, transporting 10 cubic metres of soil, along with 8 cubic metres of wood chip, work on the pond and the finishing of the bird table!

Once we had all assembled in the car park, it was immediately apparent that we were in for some serious wheelbarrowing - the 18 huge bags were a good clue. The recycled compost was used to fill some ready prepared wooden raised planters and the wood chip used to make the whole area a bit more child friendly.

The half finished bird table was completed and I believe that Carrie had even brought bird food from home to test it out....!

The other major task was to get the pond liner installed into the pond that we dug out last during our last visit here. The heavy pond liner was manoeuvred carefully into position and just as they were finishing up, the rain started, thereby helping to fill it. Some of the existing fencing was reused to ensure the pond area was inaccessible to the children until the new fencing can be installed.

A well attended, busy session that was, for the most part, dry and sunny.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs (and the bird seed!)

Thursday 5 April 2012

Wed 4th April 2012 - Brighstone Main Road.

Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

Do you remember those old American films where the prisoners were in working gangs repairing the highways? Had you driven through Brighstone on Wednesday morning then you would have had a flashback to that memory - team GG were strung out along the road, attacking the grass bank with picks and spades...! This week our task was to try and dig out some of the sucker roots that had grown into the grassy bank from the hedge above. Although on the face of it, this sounds to be a simple task, it turned out to be anything but. Once the soil had been loosened with a pickaxe, it was then time to try and wrestle the feeder roots from the ground without damaging the surrounding area too much. Some of the suckers were well in excess of 2 feet long and required herculean effort to drag them out of the soil. (see photo below)

The overhanging hedge was trimmed back and once the majority of suckers were removed, new wildflower plant plugs were planted out. This should make this predominant bank an attractive feature of the village for years to come. Last night's long overdue rain shower should help to get the new plants established. Several residents were out helping the 34 GG team members who attended this session and although the morning started cloudy, the sun soon shone through.

Also in Brighstone this week we returned for what is now the fourth time over the years to work in the local Brighstone Primary School. Eleven people were working there to get the school's vegetable garden ready for the growing season. A lot of children enjoy out of classroom activities, and this school has a lovely garden, so to help our group have dig out a lot of ground elder and other weeds so the ground is all ready for the children to sow and plant.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

A real harbinger of spring was our find this week - the Primula Veris or Cowslip, an extremely well known and popular wild flower whose numbers declined dramatically between the 1950s and the 1980s. It grows to a height of 20-30 cm when in full flower, with leaves up to 10-15cm and produces delicate yellow flowers of 1-2cm usually between March and May. Its preferred habitat is open grassland either slighly alkali or neutral in nature, requires a generous amount of light in order to flower and is not successful in woodlands or under tall plants. They are found both in dry and in continuously moist conditions, short grasslands and are a must for almost all non-acidic open grassland sites. The plant forms a key component of spring flowering grasslands, and can be used to create cowslip meadows in ordinary turf grass. It can also be planted at the front of herbaceous borders. They provide a valuable food source for bees and are the larval host plant for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, providing an important nectar source.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the photographs this week and to Carrie for the Nature Lesson.