Kids in a Tayport garden – the making of summer memories

Nina picking courgettes

I’ve always loved gardening, fresh fruit and vegetables, and gardens in bloom. Both, my mum and my grandma have always had gardens to which they would devote a lot of their free time. There were times where I “had to” help with weeding even when I did not feel like it, and there were other times when I would do a little bit of gardening just to pass the time.

All in all, I always loved the fact that I could leave the house, visit the neighbouring garden and simply pick a fresh carrot, a cucumber or a strawberry and eat it right away. When you pick them from your own garden you don’t really need to bother with washing them because you know where they’ve been. At that point, I was not even aware of the term “organic”. For me it was normal that we had a ready supply of pesticide-free fruit and vegetables all summer long – fresh lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, corn, tonnes of strawberries and black currants and many more. All of our neighbours and family were growing their own. I remember well that summer was also the time for preserving all of this nature’s bounty for the long winter season ahead. Home-grown vegetables and fruit, the taste and smell of homemade jams, marmalade, preserves, and pickles is something that I will never forget and something that I would like my children to taste and experience.

Now that I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and I own my first house with a sizeable garden, I can have a go at gardening myself. I can use all the skills I’ve learned in my grandma’s and mum’s gardens and hope to pass on my love of gardening to my own children.

My two daughters keep me just a little bit busy;) As much as I would love to devote most of my free time to growing my own vegetables, it is just pracically impossible with a vigorous four year old preschooler and an energetic nine month old baby by my side. But I would like to teach and inspire them about “growing your own” and to create some gardening and seasonal eating memories similar to my own. I think it is so important nowadays when you simply go to the supermarket and you cannot find apples from the UK or even from Europe. Instead, you can get everything from places like South America and New Zealand! It just doesn’t sound right to me to bring them from such far away places if you can grow them right here at home. So you can imagine that I am very happy to have that single apple tree in my garden:)

In my blog I will try to write a little about what we get up to with my girls in our Tayport garden each season, while we try to create those precious childhood memories.

One thing I have learned since my older daughter got interested in actually doing rather than destroying is that all of her garden toys are of very little interest to her once she sees her mum digging in the garden…

We have an enclosed trampoline in one corner of our garden but it is rarely being used by my daughter. Instead it is mostly used by birds to perch and wait for the seeds that we’ve just sowed…

We also have a sandpit which my husband built using old pieces of floorboard from our house. It is pretty cool and Nina plays in it occasionally…

There was a little swing that was attached to the only suitable tree in the garden and she loved it… Unfortunately, when we were away on our holidays the wind destroyed the tree and there are no more reliable branches to hang a swing on any more..But I heard that next year daddy is planning to build a new one for his daughters to keep those smiles on their faces.

All in all, I realized that the kids do not really need any commercialized plastic toys in the garden to keep them busy. Garden itself is exciting for them. And if a parent has a little bit of imagination they, together with the children, can think of activities that can keep everyone happy.

My older daughter is mostly interested in digging and raking. She helped me dig the garden and prepare the soil before putting in seeds and plants. After the surface was all ready and prepared she refused to play in her sandpit as she wanted to sow the seeds with me. Later on in the season when our strawberries started showing up, Nina was there to protect them from snails. She would look for them, find them and pick them so that Cathy and Will’s chickens could have a nice meal for the next couple of days. That may seem like an unusual and somewhat cruel game but it serves the purpose of preserving our home-grown strawberries and it keeps the chickens happy too.

Another activity that Nina enjoyed doing in the garden this year was watering of course. All of my pot plants and herbs were carefully watered by her, even after very heavy rains.. But it was such a good fun for her so how could I say no! She loved watering the strawberries and she did it very often – and we had a really good harvest of beautiful berries that were not eaten by snails again this year. Thanks, Nina.

All in all, Nina is always there when we work in the garden and she just copies what we do. She loves cutting the grass with her dad. Her toy mower is probably the only plastic toy that she’s played with in the garden since she was a little toddler. It’s sooo cute to watch her being so concentrated and busy “cutting” the grass alongside her dad.

Most of the summer our garden lawn is covered in daisies which we love. As you can imagine, Nina picks them and makes posies for myself or for her daddy. We also make daisy chains which Nina then wears in her hair. Again this is something that I remember doing as a child… and it brings out all the good memories… which I hope she will now have too.

Saving the starling

We also had some drama in the garden last summer. Two starlings got trapped in the protective netting covering the strawberry patch. They somehow managed to get through the net but could not find their way out. We spotted them just in time and let them free so that they could try their luck with berries in other people’s gardens;)

I think I can be proud of my gardening with children so far this year. We managed to grow some vegetables and fruit and the garden looks nice and tidy. We still need to do a little bit of work in the garden which will include raking the leaves, cutting and pruning the roses, trimming the hedge and general tidying up. Our daughter will definitely be there with us having fun copying everything we do. The little one will be patiently observing from her pushchair. We will be gathering leaves and looking for special ones which can be used for home arts and crafts projects. And we will take apart the trampoline for the winter season… maybe next year both of the girls will play in it.

We are looking forward to autumn and winter in the garden even though we do not like cold weather that much. Nina is looking forward to snow this winter so we keep our fingers crossed for a snowy garden.

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