Welcome to our blog.

….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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outside

Leap Day Tree

Seeing as leap day is on a Saturday this year, I thought it would be a perfect excuse to do something good and as a family. It always feels like an extra, free day to me. We had to mark it in some way.

So we packed everyone and the hound into the car and headed off to our local tree nursery. It’s not too far and always has a good range. It rained and hailed and the sun came out too, as we walked down the aisles of trees. Everyone had their favourites. We’ll be back for an eating cherry and pear in the near future. The children really want an ornamental cherry too.

The hound enjoyed the walk in a slightly more tamed and varied forest than we usually take him.

In the end, we bought a hornbeam, although I was really tempted by the twisted hazel, but until we landscape it would be lost in our garden.

Next job was to choose a spot and plant the tree. True to form, as the spade cut the turf, it started hailing. Never has a tree been planted so quickly, but with such care. I snapped a few photos before everyone headed back to the house. With frozen hands.

So, we now have a hornbeam. Our leap day tree. Every four years, we’ll give it a little extra attention and marvel at it’s growth.

And probably still be talking about how we planted it, as a family, in the freezing hail.

My Teens love to garden too

How can it be the start of seed planting time again? Admittedly, January is more about planning than committing seeds to soil. Unless it’s a tomato seed, then, let’s face it, that’s fair game.

I love gardening. It’s something I’m passionate about handing on to my children. When they leave home, I want them to have the skills to grow their own food. It is a life skill

Good news is, that after 17 years of gardening with my children, I think I’ve picked up a few tricks to ignite their enthusiasm and keep them coming back for more each year. Both teenagers and my tween will join in.

Here are my tips:

 Start now

It doesn’t matter how old or young they are, or the season, jump on in and start gardening, with your children. There is always something you can grow or prepare. No garden, no problem. Contact your local council and apply for an allotment. Or else, use containers. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. They could be tins or pots out of your recycling bin. A packet of seeds from the supermarket. Given the right conditions, seeds will grow. Start small and build it up.

Make a list

Make a list of the vegetables, salads and fruit you like to eat and flowers to enjoy. Cross out the ones which are not practical. Each January, we sit round the table together and make our list. I also bring out a few cookery books for inspiration. This was an absolute game changer. Courgettes, once banned, are now (almost) top of the list, thanks to a favourite recipe we found.

Make your annual plan

We found that a garden journal works for us. Double page spread for each month. First page includes all the jobs for that month, including what to sow. Second page is for notes. Children love turning over the new page, each month.

Take photos

This one is a winner. My children love seeing photos of themselves. Sharing photos of them gardening in the previous years, helps to inspire them. They remember the fun. They remember the rewards.

Give them their own patch

As soon as they start asking for a patch of their own, make it happen. One year, they each had a long trough that they could plant whatever they liked. It was a big success. The next year, I gave them a bigger area. There is nothing like sitting round the lunch table knowing everyone is eating the carrots you grew.

  Visit other kitchen gardens

I’ll admit, this one surprised me. I thought I was dragging them around the gardens, but turns out, they were picking up ideas too. Lots of “we can do this“, as we weaved our way through the neatly laid out patches of veg. They have fallen in love with flowers and different varieties of vegetables on these visits, as well as clever ideas.

Fun projects

There are so many fun projects to ignite their interest in gardening. We’ve grown seeds in little bags and jars, built runner bean houses and had our own pumpkin competition. They’ve named seeds and cared for them. As they’ve grown older, they’ve searched our varieties they like and enjoyed cooking with them. So many project ideas out there to suit all ages.

Praise

Let them know that you appreciate their efforts and gardening with you. It sounds simple, but it’s as good as an invite to join you next time. There will be failures, but that’s how all gardeners learn. That’s how we all learn.

Time to talk

This isn’t so much a tip, but an observation. Just as teens are more likely to open up when you are driving them somewhere or on a walk, I find that they often choose to join me as I’m weeding the sweetcorn. I learn more about their day at school, than if I’d sat them down and fired questions relentlessly, as soon as they walk through the door. It is often one to one time, where the gardening acts as a safe spot to share a problem.

Another benefit is that they learn to love and appreciate the natural world, and also understand the worth of the food we eat. We have very little food waste or fussy eating. I put that down partly to learning how to garden.

Last tip…

Garden together

Gifting gardening themed presents is wonderful, but it can also be daunting for a beginner. Take time to help them get started and keep them interested as it grows. I still remind my youngest, every now and again, to water his rainforest plants that we gave him in the summer for his birthday. They are surviving and he is proud of them.So there you are. Difficult to imagine gardening at the moment, as the rain is tipping down, but it will change. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, then this is a good time to start planning and preparing. If you are in the Southern side, then start sowing your winter and spring crops. There is no time like the present. Your future self will thank you.

I cannot tell you how much I’ve enjoyed gardening with my children over the years. Sometimes, their enthusiasm has carried me along. Other times, I’ve been glad that I had a few tricks up my sleeve to encourage them. I can only hope that every child will have the joy of seeing a seed burst through the soil, as it germinates. Or eating something that they grew. It is so good for them. Whatever age they happen to be.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe. I love spotting mistletoe in trees. There is one particular tree that we pass, which is almost more mistletoe than tree. Especially now the leaves have fallen. The bundles of mistletoe look like baubles, strung up on a rather sad looking tree. High up and out of reach.

I still get excited when I see mistletoe.

Yesterday, as we took a family walk, a sprig had fallen. Half had been crushed by a passing car, but the rest was good.

It really is a spindly, but elegant plant. The berries are a perfect off white. I can see why it is wrapped up in folklore and tradition. Over the years, I’ve knitted mistletoe. Producing a cartoon yarn version of the leaves and berries, rather than anything more accurate.

Nature really does do it best.

The real mistletoe will dry and curl before long. Unlikely to last until the festive season. To give it more life, I’m going to add the berries to our trees to see if we can grow our own, which would be fun. I’ve tried so many times, so who knows, maybe this time it will work. I’m planning to get out my felting needles and see if I can make something that looks a little more realistic than my knitted versions, to hang inside, above the door.

My children have grown so used to me educating them about plants that we pass. They walk passed, pointing at the tree now, confirming identification, then they continue talking to each other. Oh well. I guess my job is done, then.

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don’t just take. Written permission only. Don’t pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It’s not nice.

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