Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Potting Shed Playdough

My gardening bug has extended into playdough play. Behold, the worst playdough I have ever made. It was supposed to be 'soil' playdough, but I couldn't for the life of me make brown. I ended up with a khaki green colour and because of all the food colouring I added to try and make brown it was too watery so I had to add extra flour but then it was too crumbly. Not that the girls complained!

To the 'soil' playdough play I added some clean plant pots, lollipop sticks, glass beads, pea seeds and a pen. Poppet set about filling up the pots and putting the 'seeds' in and even labelling the sticks - she was giving me the finished pots and telling me who they were for - one was for daddy, one for her little sister and the others were for little friends she has made at playgroup. 

They've been playing with it for a few weeks now. It's dried out a bit and has quite a lot of peas and pen ink in it. Little was a bit too fond of putting the glass beads into her mouth so these have been taken away now to remove the temptation.

For a change I gave her the playdough with magnetic numbers and she really enjoyed pressing all of the numbers into the playdough and then carefully removing them all again and putting them back into the tub. Very methodical. When she was done she went into the cupboard to retrieve the much-loved glass beads and a cocktail umbrella and stuck them in too. She was concentrating so hard with her tongue poking out! Unfortunately after a while the glass beads went into the mouth again and had to be removed from the play. I'm amazed at how much use this terrible coloured and textured playdough has gotten! Hopefully the next batch will be a lot nicer.

Poppet: 3yrs
Little: 20 mos

Monday, 2 June 2014

A Rather Large Gardening Update

At last, a blog post! Mostly I have been preoccupied (read, obsessive) with gardening matters. With the extension finished we can finally focus on getting the garden up to scratch and the nicer weather (especially in the evenings) means we've been spending lots of time outdoors doing just that. Even in not nice weather we've been out there; I would contend there is no nicer place to be in a rain shower than a greenhouse.

I've big plans to make the garden child-friendly so we can spend lots more time outside, including a sensory garden area on the decking, a mud kitchen for outdoor culinary creations (not that Little needs anymore encouragement to eat soil), turning the vegetable plot into raised beds so it can be more easily accessed by the littles, a wendyhouse (have to talk very nicely to Grandad), an alpine garden, a fruit patch, ooooh I get all carried away! I have been reading a lot of gardening blogs and websites for inspiration and bookmarking ideas.

So this is what we have managed to do so far. Our garden was quite a mess after the scaffolding etc... came down so it has taken a lot of work to get it looking tidy again. Behold, a lot of photos. I love gardening before and afters.

We chitted our potatoes (in bun tins) and planted them out in our lawn borders and one row at the bottom of the veg plot. I chose 'Accord', a variety known for its scab resistance as last year we had a bit of a problem with it so fingers crossed we get some lovely scab free potatoes!

Potatoes growing in the borders

I let Poppet choose what else to grow in her little garden this year and straightaway she replied "strawberries!".  So we planted 10 strawberry plants and already they are full of little green strawberries that Poppet is very excited to check up on. It's a first growing strawberries for us so hopefully it is fruitful!

Planting strawberries
Poppet's play garden is looking very productive, and this was taken a couple of weeks ago - the 4 cabbage plants are ginormous now. She also has purple-sprouting broccoli plants (we got an amazing amount of broccoli just from these 2 plants!), lavender, thyme, lupins, alpine strawberries and a willow tree. She loves having her own little bit of garden - she smells her thyme and lavender, gets rid of 'naughty' slugs or snails she spots because they 'eat my broccoli ', but any worms she finds get a very warm welcome as she picks them up and carries them around trying to find their 'mothers'. She likes worms because 'they help the plants to grow' so is always careful to place them back down near a plant. She also cautions any birds that happen to land in the garden "don't eat my strawberries!".


My dad gave me an early 30th birthday present of wood and stakes to make the much longed for raised beds for the vegetables! This is what the vegetable plot looked like before:

Happy Birthday to me

We did a lot of digging and weeding over a few evenings and then daddy put together the beds with some help from Poppet (with her pretend chainsaw). She loves to help her daddy,

Then a few more days spent weeding and digging and raking to get them ready for planting. Poppet really liked helping. Once Little went down for her afternoon nap, Poppet would fetch our wellies and suggest we go out to do some digging, and bring some "appletini" (which is her word for Ovaltine).
And here they are now!

Finished raised beds!
After filling the raised beds with our brussel sprouts, 1 courgette plant, radishes, carrots and swiss chard there was still loads of space so I bought lots of lovely baby veg plants from the local garden centre. So now we have calabrese, purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco, pak choi, peas, mangetout, beetroot, little gem lettuce, leeks and kale. Quite a few of these are firsts for me; already the pak choi has been a bit disappointing as the hot weather we have been having caused it to bolt. 

We have still to finish putting down weed-suppressing membrane in the pathways and then cover them with bark but it is already a vast improvement to what we had before! I love the little network of paths and the girls already seem to enjoy exploring them which was the plan with this layout. I wanted to make the veg garden a place they could play in, and I read that raised beds are much better for gardens with children because they are less likely to stand all over the plants.


I didn't take a before picture of this area between the greenhouse and garden fence but it was basically big weeds and concrete slabs and glass. After clearing it all and digging it over we have reclaimed it as garden, with a little walkway created from old kerb stones. We planted a rhubarb plant that my dad gave us from his rhubarb so I'm hoping it takes and next year we can enjoy rhubarb from the garden, and the plan is to plant some raspberry bushes in the autumn too so it can be our little fruit corner.


I caved and bought some new packets of was just too hard to resist!   I love James Wong's seed collection and blog and would love his book Homegrown Revolution (hint hint J it's my birthday soon, this will be a good test to see if you read this!). It's all about growing interesting and unusual varieties of plants here in the UK. I've started off with Cucamelon which is described as a 'vigorous trailer or climber, which is relatively easy to grow. It produces an abundance of fruit resembling tiny watermelons, which taste a bit like cucumber but with a citrus tang.'  How could anyone not want to try this!!

It took weeks to germinate and I almost gave up on it but I now have 3 tiny cucamelon seedlings in the greenhouse! It was a happy day when I finally spotted a little leaf curling to the surface. Can't wait to have some exciting new fruits/veg to introduce the girls to! If these work out I plan to try some more adventurous seeds next year. The other packet of seeds I bought was Atlantic Giant Pumpkin and we have ended up with one strong little plant, so we hope to have a mammoth pumpkin come October! 

So that was a little (big) update to get me back into the swing of blogging. I felt rather a lot of pressure for the first post in a while to be good, but figured I should just bite the bullet and write one so the next isn't too daunting! 




Poppet: 3yrs
Little: 20 mos

P.S. Sorry the fonts in this post had a mind of their own.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall