Last Sunday, we had a homestead day. We started by clearing the kitchen garden, ready for the winter.
We have been unbelievably successful in this area. A couple of years ago, the children helped me move numerous wheelbarrows of manure, until the whole plot was covered in about a foot of the brown stuff or more.
I covered it up in sheeting and let the worms do their job. Wonderful underground farmers. This year we followed the three sister method of planting: sweetcorn, pumpkin and beans planted close together. They work as companion plants.
Although, I shied away from using the sweetcorns as poles.
The pumpkins soon wove their way through the sweetcorn and I seriously wondered if the corns would be fertilised, as the pumpkin leaves started to move skywards and block the cob’s silks.
I really didn’t need to worry. Nature knows best. It was the most successful year yet. We planted about 25 plants in the end, I think. Each plant produced one or two cobs that were as near to perfect as they could be. The children loved eating them. I still have some in the fridge.
The runner beans were bountiful. In fact I lost the battle to pick them in time, as I really couldn’t keep up. I saved a clutch of pods to use the seeds for next year.
Finally the pumpkins. We’ve grown pumpkins before. They’ve grown big enough to carve and make into soup. This year, we grew more and they are bigger. We have three big ones and two smaller ones that survived. More than enough.
We brought the small pair in, but the others will wait until the frost kills the leaves.
After we planted up the area in the spring, we only watered until the plants had settled in. Then we left them to grow. Weeding when needed. The manure and leaf cover kept the moisture in.
And the cherry on the top, is that the birds have been busy spreading sunflower seeds around the garden. Two germinated among the pumpkins. Away from my hoe. They grew tall and produced the biggest seed heads I’ve ever seen in our garden. These are now added to our other harvested sunflowers. The idea is to bring out one for each of the cold months for the birds. They’ll go out on the table for our feathered friends to peck. I think these two will be December and January.
All the time, the children help me. We talk about the planting scheme, but the best way to learn is to do. They know the importance of looking after the soil. They enjoy eating the food brought in from the garden. I really don’t think I could have planted as big an area as we did and look after it without their help. Their weeding techniques are improving. They really are involved the whole way through. I’m pretty sure that they will grow up knowing how to grow plants and respect the world around them.
My favourite moment from this week was when Middle One picked an apple off the tree and raced around to show me. Can you see it? Can you see the face? Now you would never find one in the shops like this one. Another good reason to grow our own.
Who knows what we could achieve next year?