Gardening With Kids

learn to garden with children

Well, I have been neglecting this blog, it's true. But something has been keeping me busy. As you can see form the photo, Anthony is growing up fast! Between looking after him, working, and writing/developing other blogs my time is rather full. But as you can also see, I have not actually neglected  growing my food. And if you want to learn to grow your own food, you can never be too young to start. Anthony started right before his 1st birthday, when he learnt to walk. One of the first things he did when he could walk unaided, was to learn about watering plants. He has always liked water, but he really took to watering like, well, a duck to water I guess!

He is astonishingly strong, and can lift quite a full watering can (he's now 20 months), after having learnt with a tiny one last year. Here, you can see him using an ancient atomiser to spray seeds we'd just sown together. We let him put the compost into the propagator trays, we put the seeds in ourselves, and we taught him how to use the old atomiser to water the delicate seeds. It's pretty easy to get kids involved with gardending and having fun with it, as they almost without exception, love getting dirty - so anything involving soil is usually a winner! You just have to make sure they don't eat it, rub it in their eye, or pour it all over their head ;)

Here, we sowed:

  1. leeks - Musselburgh variety, and will transplant them to the allotment at the appropriate time;
  2. tomatoes - Ildi, Red Pear, San Marzano 2, Tigerella, Orange Berry, and Costoluto Fiorentino.
We also managed to get a mini harvest from the allotment, of onions and leeks that we left on our old allotment form last year. That is one of the reasons why it's awesome to grow a lot of leeks, because they can just stand right through the winter, and then you just pick them when you want. Onions can stand sometimes, but depends on the variety. Japanese onions are often better for overwintering.

The allotment is now just down to 20 poles, as we used to have 2x 20 poles last year, but we gave it up after I decided to go back to work 2.5 days per week. So we have just been digging one vegetable bed so far, and we planted 5x elephant garlic, 29x garlic, and 55x onions. This is nowhere near enough onions, so we will plant more soon.

Anthony loves being at the allotment, there is plenty of long grass to roll around in, and last Summer there were TONS of utterly delicious blackberries, which he adored eating. Hopefully, this year will be just as good for blackberries and our other plants will also do well. We planted 11 fruit trees in 2013, and they are not supposed to give us fruit for at least 2 years, but we did actually get ONE apple, one solitary apple last year. It was a bit weird to see just one fruit growing there, but as we didn't expect anything at all, it was a pleasant surprise.

It's Spring - Time to Plant Again!

The weather might've turned awful again, but here in East Anglia, we've had practically no Winter... So I've been down to the allotments we did manage to get our mitts on, and have been planting:
  • Garlic - Solent Wight (actually planted these in December)
  • Onions - red and white embarrassingly, I've already forgotten which varieties, planted in February)
  • Potatoes - first and second earlies (Winston and Maris Peer)

It's extremely hard work. The ground is heavy clay, and it's full of weed and grass. So, I've bought some phacelia, a green manure, to cover most of the allotment until it needs to be dug over.

Long Time No See

The reason for my absence!!! I had a baby at the end of August, and have since managed only to pull a few veg out of the ground, and order a few fruit trees for our (hopefully getting soon) allotment...

Will update more as soon as I am not dealing with sick, poo, wee, colic, and breastfeeding.

Gardening and Technology - Part 6 - Home Weather Stations

various symbols representing the weather

I have always been fascinated by the weather. But then, living in the British Isles, we Brits and Irish are probably the most weather-obsessed people on the planet... My youngest brother was also pretty into meteorological things and I'm pretty sure he either got, or wanted one of these little electronic weather stations you can put in your house:

Gardening and Technology - Part 5 - Software

Over the last few weeks, we've mostly looked at hardware technology for the garden. This week, we look at what kind of software is available to help you plan and track your growing plants.

Gardening and Technology - Part 4 - Irrigatia Solar Watering and Irrigation System

solar water pump for gardens and allotments

This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen in a gardening catalogue. The Irrigatia really impresses me and I quite want one for when I get my allotment, which in theory is imment. Compared to last week's and a fortnight ago's devices, this one seems like it actually really worth getting, especially if you live in a dry area. It's basically a little box of solar cells which is connected to a pump. You just pop it into your water butt or tank, and install the solar box on the wall. The manufacturer states that it will water every three hours, or as necessary. So, if it's really sunny, it'll water more often.

It comes with several drippers than can be spread out across your garden or allotment, and there is also a model that gives you longer pipes and even more drippers, if you've got a large area to look after.

It's under £100, looks like it's pretty easy to install, and is free to run thanks to the solar power! What more could you ask for?

Vegan or Vegetarian Mixed Veg Soup

Every week, I get a vegetable and fruit delivery from Riverford. It is one of the highlights of my week, purely because it's like a surprise gift - you never quite know what you're going to get inside. They do tell you in advance on their website, but sometimes there are last minute changes. So, I look forward to the delivery and always enjoy coming up with some kind of creative first meal from the contents.

So I am going to make a soup. It'll be a vegetarian or vegan soup with as many of the veg that Riverford sent me as I can possibly fit into the pot. Super healthy and delicious! Here is what I made:

Vegan Curried Mixed Veg with Tangy Greens 'n' Beans

When you've got colours like these, you've probably got amazing flavour too. So, why bother adding meat or animal products to something so wonderful? I do like meat and butter, but for me, enjoyable food is very often more about an exciting combination of vegetables. Here we have the sweet and crunchy small carrots, the nutty and satisfying flavour as well as the eye-catching  multicoloured turnips. What better to balance them than a savoury green courgette and...

Gardening and Technology - Part 3 - Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor (Indoor and Outdoor)

wireless plant sensor device

outdoor wireless plant sensor device

Following on from last week's sensor gadget, the Lapka Personal Environment Monitor, this week we are looking at the Koubachi plant sensors. There are two models - an indoor and an outdoor. Both do the same job, which is to:

  • measure soil moisture
  • measure temperature
  • measure light intensity
  • send you the information wirelessly
  • alert you to the plant's needs
They connect wirelessly to an iPhone or Mac, or apparently a Windows computer according to a reviewer on Amazon, although there is nothing on Koubachi's website about that. 

When I first saw these, I thought: 'WOW! That is cool!'. However, as you might have guessed, I am now thinking otherwise...

A Lunch I Never Tire of

If I have ingredients like these in stock, I very often default to making this delicious soup for lunch. I am one who loves variety, but for some reason, this soup is just always satisfying, always tasty, and I never get bored of it. I just ate it for the third or fourth time this week... and it is so simple and quick, yay! The fattiness of the egg, the slipperyness of the noodles, the crunchiness of the vegetables - it's such a great combination.


Miso paste (1tsp)
An egg
Spring onions/scallions
Garlic (1 small clove, chop it up very small)
Red pepper (or something else colourful, like a carrot)
Soy sauce
A little butter or cooking oil (about half a tsp)
Chilli powder or black pepper
250-300ml of boiling water

Optional: side selection of pickled and preserved vegetables

How to make it: