Before the minxes came along, I was a very keen gardener. Each girl was proudly weaned on vegetables I’d grown myself, and I desperately looked forward to teaching each girl how to garden and raise her own fruit and vegetables. That was the dream… The reality? Oh, they love gardening all right! The mud, the dirt, the slugs and bugs, throwing earth around and splashing water on anything and everything. Why sow seeds when you can dump them in a pile, or even better, chuck the bothersome things over the cat instead? Why waste your time weeding when you can stamp over the whole lot of seedlings into one boggy mess?
After 7 years of this, I was finally ready to admit defeat. It just wasn’t fun for the kids being constrained and told exactly what to plant, where and how. It wasn’t fun for me having all my hard work destroyed wantonly. I realised that if I wanted big vegetable crops again, I’d need to do it all myself. Unless there was some halfway house..? One of my fellow bloggers over at the Little Trekkers Ambassadors blog patiently explained all about guerrilla gardening. It’s where you let your child do what they like with the vegetable bed. The idea is that if the seeds and seedlings are strong enough, they will grow regardless of whether they’re in straight, evenly spaced lines or crowded into a 2p piece size of ground. Gradually you can introduce the concept of spacing and sowing depth and nurturing to achieve bigger and better crops. Well, rather than have no home-grown veg at all, I decided to give it a try.
In spring, Mini raked most of the bottom 4 x 4ft veg bed onto the path, dumped an entire packet of carrot seeds, along with 2 packets of parsnips and a packet of beetroot, into the top right hand corner of the bed. She resisted my attempts to even rake them out a little. I didn’t think much of the little seeds’ chances as she rejected the watering can in favour of a big bucket of water. I sadly watched the few outlying seeds wash into the centre of the puddle of water and clump together. What a waste of 4 packets of seeds! They only gave Mini about 15 minutes of interest before she was off again, trying to throw snails at Killer Cat.
Fast-forward to August. On one of my visits home, I realised that the foliage was looking very green and verdant and carrot-like. Hmmm, we might actually get a few carrots! Only one beetroot had survived to seedling status, and maybe 6 or 7 parsnips. Yesterday I felt around the top of one carrot: 2″ diameter! Best get these babies out the ground… After washing all the dirt off and chopping off the greenery, Mini’s attempt at guerrilla gardening yielded 2.6kg of carrots. 2.6kg of carrots!!!
There was even a little bit of comedy…
And an awful lot of ugliness!
The ground didn’t have any additional fertiliser added this year, so I don’t think this forking has any cause other than simple overcrowding. Who knows, if we manage to sell and buy before spring, so are able to grow our own again in 2014, I will let the girls do their own thing with the seeds. But I will at least rake them out a little when they’re not watching!