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Mr Rotavator's top tips for school gardens

* Make school gardens as wildlife- friendly as possible. Use plants that will attract a wide variety of insects, birds and small mammals. It will soon become apparent how nature takes care of itself without the need for insecticides and weed-killers.

* Recycle throw-away household items for gardening projects. Use plastic bottles for hanging bottle gardens, ice cream and margarine tubs for seed trays and cut up old bicycle tyres to make plant ties. Stinging plants make wonderful displays and are more controllable.

* Grow baby vegetables in pots. Children love to see mini versions of grown-up food.

* Make each gardening project fun. Include fascinating facts about plants (The Romans bought us lots of weeds, for example. Consider why plants have been given strange names. And where in the world do cacti come from?) Use gardening as a teaching tool for other curriculum subjects.

* Use gardening as a therapeutic aid. Nature does not discriminate between differing mental and physical abilities. Growing things makes people smile and that has got to be good.

* Steve Brookes is at Progress House, Avenue Farm, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 0HR. Tel: 01789 293131.

email: mr.rotavatortavator.co.uk

* Sally Ballard, 5 Exhall Court Farm, Exhall, Alcester, Warks. B49 6EA Tel 01789 773097 email sally ballard@compuserve.com Steve Brookes can be contacted at 01789 293131 or mobile: 07801 552538

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