Friday, 20 March 2015

LATEST NEWS // Join round two of the Forest Gate Community Garden Organic Gardening Course – starts 22 April 2015

Our first Organic Gardening Course has gone so well, we've gone and organised a second one, running for 10 weeks from 22 April 2015 – this time on Wednesday evenings between 7-9pm. Read on for more details on the course and how to enrol

FGCG Organic Gardening Course tutor Stephen Mason on site (centre) in the Forest Gate Community
Garden following our Members event in September 2014

Only one more week left of the very first Forest Gate Community Garden Organic Gardening Course with tutor Stephen Mason, just in time to get out into the garden for a bit of spring sowing, planting and last minute propagating!

Those of us lucky enough to be on the first course have learnt so much – more than we thought possible in just 2 hours each week – including how to have healthy soil, all about shrubs, flowers, trees, and seeds and great tips on water conservation, organic pest control and keeping your tools shipshape. Can't wait to put all our newfound knowledge into action in our own personal gardens and the forthcoming community garden at 136 Earlham Grove.

Don't worry if you missed the course this time round, as we're running a second 10-week class at the Learning Zone from 22 April – this time it's on a Wednesday evening between 7pm and 10pm. You can enrol from 15 April and it costs just £60 for 10 weeks (concession rates apply).


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 Wednesday 22 April 2015. Sessions take place between 7-9pm 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 on 15 April (10am-7pm), 16 April (10am-7pm) and 17 April at (10am-4pm).

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


Stephen Mason also hopes to run additional gardening courses including one on garden design. If you are interested please email us at

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