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With another lockdown upon us, many in the Hereford Cathedral School community are looking for ways to escape the screens and enjoy the outdoors more. 

Head of Cornwall House, Mrs Vines, is hoping to inspire HCS pupils and their families to make use of the time on their hands to start growing their own vegetables at home. She will be adopting the ‘no-dig’ method, whereby the ground is covered with cardboard to exclude the light, and compost is laid on top, meaning that weeds struggle to grow in the crops.

A section of the Old Deanery lawn has been designated to the project, and the HCS gardeners have this week been busy preparing the ground.

Mrs Vines has been moved to share the no-dig method with the HCS community after signing up for a course run by Monmouth-based no-dig vegetable grower Cherry Taylor. Representatives from 10 other schools, various community gardens and private gardeners have also signed up to learn all about vegetable-growing, biodiversity and insects. Over the coming months, Mrs Vines will share the tips and knowledge she gains from the course with Roots & Shoots members.

This Friday, HCS parent Andrew Lewis will be delivering compost to Old Deanery from his Abergavenny firm, Green Waste Company. This will be spread over the newly made bed in a thick blanket.  This will not only stop weeds growing by occluding the light but start to nourish the soil. While you might be tempted to use your own compost, you can be introducing new weeds into the patch. “Andrew’s compost is great because it’s been heated to really high temperatures to ensure that all weeds have been killed,” explained Mrs Vines.

 “All through the summer, Cherry was supplying our village with organic salad and veggies and the difference in taste was incredible,” said Mrs Vines, adding: “When she offered to teach us how to grow our own, I jumped at the chance to join her course.”

She added: “Growing veggies is said to be time-consuming and that’s what has always put me off. But this year we may have more time on our hands than expected…so why not join Roots & Shoots and give it a go?”

Mrs Vines hopes to start sowing in seed trays on February 12, with planting out planned from March 19. While remote learning is still in place, she plans to share what she learns with interested pupils and parents, so that they can nurture their own no-dig gardens at home. Once lockdown eases and pupils return to school, club members will be able to join in the efforts of the club during lunchtime sessions. The end result should be a weed-free garden that yields a good supply of delicious vegetables.

Any pupils or parents who are interested in getting involved in the project and learning to grow their own vegetables using the no-dig method, should contact Mrs Vines.