Monday, 15 December 2014

LATEST NEWS // Join our NEW Organic Gardening Course // Enrol before Fri 19 Dec 4pm

Learn about your soil, how to make compost, irrigation systems and all about sustainable planting, with a little help and inspiration from the NEW Forest Gate Community Garden (FGCG) Organic Gardening Course. The course is open to everyone including FGCG Members but there are only a few places left so get in quick – last chance to enrol is Friday 19 December 2014 before 4pm!

FGCG Organic Gardening Course tutor Stephen Mason
on site (centre) in the Forest Gate Community Garden
following our Members event in September 2014
Run in partnership with Newham Adult Learning Service and tutored by renowned local organic gardener Stephen Mason of Greenspace Management – who has a distinguished community garden record – it runs for 10 weeks from Friday 16 January until Friday 27 March 2015 (with a break for half term). Sessions take place between 1-3pm each week and are held at the Forest Gate Learning Zone (1 Woodford Road, London, E7 0DH; 5 minutes walk from Forest Gate Station; opposite Wanstead Park Station).

The full cost of the course is £60 for those in employment but there are concessions for the retired and those on benefits, with evidence (see page 2 of the Newham Adult Learning Lifelong Learning 2014-2015 brochure). In order to qualify you need to enrol at Forest Gate Learning Zone as soon as possible – last chance to do so is Wednesday 17 December and Thursday 18 December (10am-7pm) and Friday 19 December (10am to 4pm). If there are spaces left, you can enrol in the week beginning 5 January, but we expect a high level of take-up.

Read on for a detailed account of our syllabus. It is designed to be flexible to meet participants needs and interests and to be of value to experienced as well as new gardeners. Hope to see you there!


The course will cover a range of topics at a basic level allowing course attendees to confidently care for and improve their gardens in a sustainable way. The topics covered will include:

Soil and Compost

  • Soil and life on earth
  • What is soil – How is it formed – Structure – PH
  • What happens in soil – What type of organisms live in soil
  • How do we keep soil healthy – What can we do to conserve soil
  • Cultivation – Improvement
  • What is compost - What is it used for
  • How is compost different from soil
  • What types of compost are there available and how do they differ
  • How and why do we make compost

Water conservation and irrigation and Wind

  • Water and the water cycle
  • Water in your garden – How much do you get from the rain/Rainwater harvesting
  • Water and soil – water retention and drainage
  • Irrigation systems
  • Water and plants – how does water influence or determine a plants growth
  • Wind – How it affects the garden and plant growth/development


  • Plant structure
  • Life cycles
  • Reproduction and seeds
  • Bulbs and Corms
  • Photosynthesis and Transpiration
  • Families of plants
  • Types of plants – Annuals/Biennials/Perennials/ corms/bulbs/rhyzomes
  • Plants for different situations
  • Flowers and foliage

Plant Nutrition and Fertilisers

  • Major Nutrients and Minor Nutrients
  • Soil PH and availability of nutrients
  • Nutrients there functions and symptoms of deficiency
  • Fertilizers the different types and what they are made of

Planting and Propagation

  • Flowerpots and seed cell planters
  • Seeds
  • Vegetative propagation
  • Hardwood and Softwood cuttings
  • Seed and cutting composts
Pests and Diseases

  • Common garden pests and diseases
  • Reasons for pests and diseases in the garden
  • Action to reduce pest and disease problems
  • Soil and plant health
  • Companion planting
  • Pest and disease control

Trees and Hedging

  • Tree types- deciduous and evergreen/ Species
  • Hedges – common hedging plants/habitat
  • Shape and form
  • Trees for the garden – size and spread/foliage and autumn colour
  • Fruit trees – standard/espalier/cordon


  • Types of tools –pruning/digging/clearing
  • Tool maintenance and care – H+S/sharpening/storage
  • Use of tools – pruning techniques/digging techniques
  • Lawn Mowers

Mulches and Lawns and seasonal work

  • Types of mulches and their use
  • Lawns and their care and management
  • Jobs in the garden throughout the year

Organic principles

  • The reasons behind organic horticulture
  • Benefits of organic soil, compost, companion planting
  • Organics as a part of the bigger picture


We also hope to run a course in the summer term if we have enough demand, potentially in the Forest Gate Community Garden. If you are interested in this please email to express your interest, to

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