TEACHER TIPS 3 – Time for maintenance

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A Plant Growing Unit (PGU) or shade house, just like any nursery, needs to be well organised. Activities related to growing plants as well as growing unit maintenance should be scheduled by the teacher-in-charge. Maintenance of the growing unit is all part of growing robust and healthy plants, and should be part of the year-long learning opportunities you, as the teacher, provide through the TfS programme.

In the next Te Māra a Tāne, Teacher Tips will focus on growing plants but in this issue attention is on this important maintenance.

Now that most, if not all, of the plants will have been moved from your PGU or Shadehouse for planting out at your site, it is a good time to check it out. Many of the following tasks can be designated to the students as they are all useful experiences.

  1. Take the opportunity of an empty growing unit to clean it out thoroughly. This may involve water blasting the shade curtains and shelves to get rid of any moss or other material which may have gathered during the growing season.
  2. This is a good time to check on any parts of the growing unit which may need repairing. This will include a complete check of your watering system from tap washers to water timer and cleaning out the sprinklers. Check this link for installing a water timer.
  3. The PGU shade curtains should last for many years but when they get older they can tear or develop holes. Discuss any items needing repair or replacement with your Field Officer and if necessary place an order with the TfS Administrator.
  4. Remove any weeds around the growing unit and tidy the unit surrounds. This may not be seen as very important but weeds surrounding your growing unit are the main source of weeds which grow in your plant pots, and stunt the growth of your native plants.
  5. During the year you may receive plants in small seed raising trays, use root trainers or small pots and recover plastic planter bags on planting day. All these can be recycled by brushing them down to remove surplus soil and then washing (avoid using a detergent), drying and storing.
    A good idea is to construct a small unit in which to store used root trainers, pots and bags ready for cleaning and recycling (see right).
  6. You can also check your supplies of potting mix and growing unit equipment, making sure you are stocked up and ready for new seedlings, which will be arriving at your school until September. If you need to place an order click here for Auckland and Regional orders.
  7. Talking of storage – do you have a secure and weather-tight storage shed? If you can source the funding you may wish to purchase a GALAXY storage shed – contact Rollformers here.

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