Ok, so I admit it. I DRASTICALLY underestimated my ability to cultivate a kitchen garden with 2 under 2. BUT now that India’s turned 1 and Alfie’s hit the big 3 I’m confident I can get back on top of it.
Alfie and Indi love being out in the garden and unlike those aspiration insta types who seem to have soil averse children (or maybe they just don’t have an acre full of dogs and chickens?!) I can’t let my two free reign. That’s how they end up eating worms for dinner. As a result my gardening time isn’t so much spent gardening as gasping “no don’t eat that!” Or dashing after a runaway quad. Such peaceful pursuits.
The weather’s been funny this year, too wet and too hot for lots of our usual crops, hardly anything grew for ages then it all seemed to bolt overnight.
We had an ok crop of carrots but because I was in a hurry (see first paragraph) I just flung the seeds in the soil and never thinned them out. As a result, our carrots are a tangled amorous mess…and delicious!
Salads were a right off. Teeny, tiny, threads of plants with no roots then wooooosh long, lanky tendril everywhere. Once a salad bolts it becomes quite bitter so these are ready to pulled out. Our rocket has been ok, but since that’s practically a weed I won’t be awarding myself a golden trowel just yet.
Our brassica bed was DECIMATED by caterpillars. It was a little bit like watching a live version of Plants vs Zombies (who remembers that game?!) We still have a few stalky kales and we have one cabbage ready to harvest. There’s no point trying to salvage them for another year, this bed needs dug out too. It’s disappointing and I did think about letting the chickens out to clear the bed for me but I didn’t have the heart for mass murder. Brassicas, thank you for your sacrifice!https://fredtedandcompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/img_5184.mov
Our peas managed well despite my neglect and the absence of a pea frame. Fresh peas are always a favourite in our house and watching Alfie introduce them to India has been such a joy for me.
Really there’s only so much you can neglect fruit bushes, they do need some attention or they will punish you with bare branches, which is exactly what mine did this year. We did get a few raspberries and one solitary blueberry which Alfie ate immediately, much to Indi’s annoyance! I’m hoping our blackberries will be better (another weed for which I can’t claim credit!)
Our garden seems to be recovering from all the work we did to it three years ago and we’ve found lots more creepy crawlers. Since our plants are all becoming established there’s a lot more bees too.
The butterflies and the hares have been the stand out for this summer though.
Alfie found the caterpillar plague slightly repulsive but was fascinated when they migrated to our gable wall and cocooned themselves. I’m terrified of large numbers of butterflies though so thankfully, having devoured all the kale in their first lives they left almost as soon as they emerged.
We also had a mating pair of endangered Irish Hares visit us. Last year Mr Hare was a frequent visitor so it was lovely to host him and his lovely lady wife this year. I never appreciated how well camouflage, they were much, trickier to spot this year with the larger plants.
I’ve two areas I want to look at this year, the flower bed in the kitchen garden which is boring and bare for much of the year. And the shaded spot under our oak. The oak is ancient and massive and provide a lovely safe space for the kids to play out of the summer sun. BUT not much likes to grow there so I’m thinking some wild garlic and foxgloves could be our solution for next year.
I’m not sure what to do with the border, I’d like some year long colour but I don’t want much maintenance (see paragraph one again) so the hunt is on. Currently I’m considering dill, catmint and purple sage but everything is still just speculation.
Jobs for The Toddlers
- Weeding (Equipment: bucket for collecting. Skills: plant ID, hand washing, fine motor & finger strength.)
- Deadheading (Equipment: scissors, basket. Skills: sorting, cutting
- Watering (Equipment: stool for taps, watering can. Skills: coordination, balance, pouring, capacity)
- Picking berries (Equipment: basket, sieve for washing. Skills: fine motor, identifying ripe/unripe, food prep)
- Pulling root veg (Equipment: basket, basin and scrubbing brush. Skills: upper body strength)
- Shelling peas (Equipment: possibly scissors.Skills: fine motor skills)