Gardening and Plants

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We have loads of stargates in our house: they are in the children’s eyes

We went stargazing this evening. The eight-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet so we could point stuff out to the six-year-old, because Vega emits some hundred many times light more than the sun — five hundred? I wasn’t listening, because I was trying to show the 6yo the Big Dipper — and she thinks Altair is a really romantic name for a star.

We actually went out to show off the fig tree we planted yesterday. When we dug the old dead weeds out of the pot, we found an ants’ nest inside, and spent a little while watching them carrying eggs around (“Nah, I’ve seen ant eggs before, Mu-um,” “LARVAE, Mum, LARVAE,”) before emptying the soil out and replacing it with freshish compost. I think the ants will be able to rebuild their civilization in the old soil’s new location. Except for the ones which crawled onto us as we dig and met a sudden and untimely end.

Today

went incredibly badly and I spent much of the day in other people’s foul tempers and some of it in my own. But towards the end, after I had read FOUR CHAPTERS of the scintillating intellectual treat that is £$%^& Noddy and eaten most of the chocolate cherry flan on my own because only one child wanted to help me, the 6yo started repairing a stool she picked up at the side of the road on Friday, and I forgave them almost everything.

I was glad to go stargazing though. A little enthusiasm after a day of negativity goes a long way.

And I have no idea at all what happened with the formatting for this post. Whu?

We were supposed to go to the hospital for a tedious checkup thing today, and I was going to enliven it with a visit to the Museum of English Rural Life again, but the toddler has possible chicken pox so that was out. I cancelled my appointment, the sun suddenly came out, and this happened:

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Digging up our Grow Your Own Potatoes bag.

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Finding a recipe…

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… and following it…

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… and finally, serving it to their adoring and hungry mother. It was delish, actually, and there’s more dressing left over for later.

I was so impressed and pleased that I decided to dig out their corner and make it nice again:
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Dishwasher maths – what’s nine and nine and three? Ten and ten minus one-and-one plus three… EIGHTEEN!

Checking up on the peas, carrots, mange tout, and berries – they are growing, hurrah!

Weeding with a hoe.

Playing in ever-changing groups of children aged under one to over eight.

Shopping for food.

Making toad in the hole.

Pronouncing de-sigh-zhuns, and other words which are interesting to read.

Running around yelling like mad.

Climbing.

Sliding.

Drawing.

Checking the post and using limited reading skills to hand it to the right recipients.

It’s been a busy day.

Seven O, actually. Emer got interested and we chitted our seven seed potatoes today! They’re out in the mini greenhouse. With any luck we’ll have more compost ready to use by the time we want to actually plant them. I think we’ll only leave them out one week because it’s already two weeks late for planting them in actual dirt.

It’s practically summer. We ate lunch and dinner in the garden. And for the first time in two years, E (5yo) wasn’t interested in planting food this spring, so we haven’t done ANY before today.

Today I did it myself; I planted courgettes, parsley, radishes, chives, basil, leeks and cauliflowers, and discovered that the tomato, spinach and something else seeds have all gone missing. I’ll have to buy more, at some point.

The most difficult thing with gardening this year is going to be water. I was able to re-use a lot of last year’s compost, and we can refresh it with our own compost, so that was free and ethical. We can feed things with the disgusting smelly liquid from the bokashi bins. But watering will be tricky; we’re in drought and although the hosepipe ban isn’t here yet, it’s obviously not good to waste water just because it’s still legal.

The garden is lovely; the narcissi are out on one side, and red tulips all blowsy and poppy-like on the other, and I can see that it will all be luscious and full of food soon. We do need to get a wiggle on with the potatoes though. If the children are truly uninterested I’ll just have to do it myself but that feels wrong somehow; we got them free as an educational resource. I suppose they’ll learn what a potato is anyway.

The baby is using sentences and verbalising complex concepts.

We got our potato planting kit from The Potato Council today. It came in a little brown box which contained two bags of potatoes, an envelope of instructions, and a couple of grow bags.

Last year we ate well on them. Emer particularly loved chitting and planting. This year I expect we’ll do better with earthing up and so on. I’m really looking forward to it. For bonus points, the sunniest window is in the girls’ room this year, because we switched around, so they can check them a LOT. I might rig a high shelf halfway across, or something.

Not sure what else we’ll grow this year. Tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, peas and beans? We don’t have a lot of space, and what we have is rather full of social things like a table and chairs, and toys.

It’s here. Which is frankly weird, because it’s JANUARY, hello? But nonetheless…We had a busy morning, in that not very busy way; it was low key and unrushed, but people seemed to be getting a lot done.

Reading maths puzzle books. I like that they don’t need to be written in, so we can hand them on or lend them to others.
Using acrylic paint to colour air-drying clay. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to represent.
Pick up that green shovel and DIG, woman!

So I pottered around the garden recording signs of spring.

No idea what’s going to surface here. Tulips and daffodils and crocuses and things. The thing is, it’s JANUARY and the place is bursting with little green shoots.
Fuzzy buds on the apple tree.
And on the fruit bushes. Fruit twigs, really.
JuniperJasmine berries. Wasn’t that a Body Shop fragrance?
House!
I say again, January.

Honestly.


The conkers were from the park and the figs are from the end of our road. We are assuming it’s a fig tree; we haven’t asked the homeowner whose tree it is, but online searches and asking friends seems to show it most likely is. We’re not going to try eating them, though.

Stuff grows. This is constantly amazing to us.

Emer is loving this – we eat blackberries and nasturtium petals straight away in the garden, but we bring orange tomatoes into the house and leave them on the kitchen windowsill to riped, and then we eat them with actual real live meals. Well, not live meals. But anyway. Yesterday we served some up in salad for her grandparents.

I call them “Emer’s tomatoes” because she helped plant and water them and took a general interest in growing things, this year. We’re all very impressed with how much better tomato plants did in their current location than in the previous ones we tried. We’ll probably plant them there again next year, possible in the cold frame which we can just remove, unless I can figure out some way of building a greenhouse onto the end of the little playhouse.

Courgette attacking the baby apple tree

The courgette isn’t very big but if you click on the second picture you’ll see that the plant all but dwarfs the apple tree… Emer is very proud and already looking forward to chopping them up!

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