It’s over 3 weeks since our last Saturday morning allotment visit and we didn’t make it yesterday either. It’s been unseasonably hot in the UK for weeks now and our weekends are such a precious balance of down time versus adventure. Yesterday was the first day of the school holidays and we relished sitting around in the clothes we’d woken up in and having no timescale for eating, dressing or leaving the house.
I was keen to get to the allotment as we’re having a break away this week. I’d also received an exciting text from Dave to tell us our runner beans were ready to pick (they’d just begun flowering when we last visited at the end of June). I read Dave’s text out to Euan and awaited his ”great, let’s go Mummy’‘ response. Alas, he was enjoying sitting in his pants making Lego too much to consider all the things he’d have to do to get ready for plot time. Euan loves being at the allotment, especially if our visits coincide with Dave being there, but he tolerates the 25 minute walk there and thoroughly dislikes the walk back. I’ve been quite realistic about my own energy and patience levels and managing the needs of two hot, tired boys so in the current climate we’ve not been able to go if G is at work with the car. I explained to Euan we would need to go to the allotment on Sunday and he replied
”Can we go in the car? I do love gardening but it’s so exhausting to walk home after. I wish the allotment was in our back yard”.
Me too, I thought!
We watered our plot as soon as we arrived and could immediately see that Dave had been keeping a careful eye on it – the soil had been hoed and our plants were thriving despite the heatwave. I’d expected our lettuce to be completely frazzled but it was vibrant and tasty. Our plot benefits from the morning shade provided by Dave’s blackberry brambles which is another reason why I prefer heading out in the morning.
My little Noticer Euan was delighted to find a broken birds egg as we watered the plot. I wasn’t sure what it was but suggested a pigeon egg as we’d found a similar one years ago and that had been Dave’s guess! Euan has been really curious about creepy crawlies since taking part in the #GreatBritishBeeCount – on our last visit he befriended a woodlouse and found it amusing that he could feel his legs tickling his hand as he tried to escape. We picked some of Dave’s gooseberries when we started to feel peckish having sampled Dave’s red gooseberries on previous visits. Freshly grown, sun ripened gooseberries are extraordinary – tangy but sweet and no hint of sugar needed to sweeten them. I was reminded of the gooseberry bush I inherited from Dave’s allotment neighbour when failing eyesight meant he was no longer able to manage his plot.
After a brief pitstop Luca wanted to help with the watering again and I remembered we hadn’t fed our tomato plants. They definitely benefit from a liquid feed to ensure they get the right balance of nutrients (potassium and nitrogen thirsty). Dave’s tomatoes are beautifully trimmed and trained up tall sticks. We’ve always gone for a more bushy effect as I never get round to nipping the tops out!
You see that watering can, you’ve guessed right, it was pretty much empty by the time Luca had dragged it back to the plot all by himself. You’ve got to admire toddler determination but it can be maddening to be on the receiving end of a ‘‘No Mummy help” when you can see how it’s going to end up!
We left the plot with a week’s worth of lettuce and it kept beautifully in the fridge after being rinsed and shaken. I always presumed washing lettuce as soon as you got it home, and well in advance of when you’d use it, would make it deteriorate quicker but Henri’s advice to run it under the tap and store it upside down (if whole) in a plastic bag has served me well.
I’m also sharing this post with Sophie at Oldhouse in the Shires and Ann from Gardening Limited who co-host the fab monthly gardening linky #MyGloriousGardens. If you write a gardening blog we’d love you to come and share your stories with us.
If you liked reading about our allotment adventure our other gardening with kids posts are here.
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