No-dig gardens engage tamariki

| By Enviroschools Northland

On the outskirts of Kerikeri, Arohanui Early Learning Centre tamariki and kaiako are undertaking a no-dig approach to gardening. With plenty of space on site, the preparation method, known as ‘sheet mulching’, was viewed as a great opportunity by the teaching team to involve tamariki, their whānau and the community in preparing and caring for the garden.

Arohanui kaiako, Fiona Thomson started the process by covering the ground with large thick pieces of cardboard. Lots of leaves were needed to cover the cardboard as a composting mulch. This is where help from the tamariki was needed, and they were very keen to get involved, filling up child-size wheelbarrows with puka leaves, wheeling them back to the cardboard sheet-mulching area and spreading them over the cardboard.

On top of the leaves, they added lots of other organic materials such as straw and garden waste and then manure from the local horses! Some tamariki found this fascinating, while others weren’t so sure!

A sprinkle of leaves! The puka leaves will rot down along with the cardboard and all the other mulch to create healthy soil (banner image).

Tamariki work together to cover the cardboard sheet mulch on the no-dig garden with puka leaves.












More ingredients went into the no-dig compost garden, including potash, seaweed, coffee grounds, sawdust and some Arohanui compost to build up the soil nutrition. It was then left to mature and decompose, feeding Papatūānuku.

Arohanui, and neighbouring Harinui centre, have both been supported on their Enviroschools journeys by Facilitator Judy Crooks. Judy recently gifted banana palm pups from her own garden to the centres, giving tamariki another opportunity to be involved with planting, watering and care of plants.

Fiona says the centres already have plans for another no-dig garden this year.

“The tamariki, whānau and kaiako will be embarking on another learning project, this time around rongoā, the traditional Māori healing system involving the use of native plant-based remedies. So, our next no-dig garden will a bed for native shrubs, plants and trees that have medicinal properties.”- Arohanui kaiako, Fiona Thomson

Sustainable gardening – also known as ‘he kai mo nga tangata’/‘food for the people’, is part of the support offered through the Enviroschools programme at both Arohanui and Harinui Early Learning Centres.