Grow your own…

J used to be a great eater when he was little but about 6 months ago, he decided to become a fussy eater.  I say decided because it certainly seemed to be a conscious decision one morning.  We went along with it, mainly because we had no intention of letting meal times become a huge battle while we tried to force vegetables down his throat.  In the long run, we were sure that was going to do him a lot more harm than just not eating his carrots.  At the same time though, we were worried.  Well, I was.  DH quite sensibly decided this was just a phase.

At the same time, I was teaching a topic about the life cycle of plants in school and I swear, it was the most deathly dull topic I have taught in my life.  Animations of bees and powerpoints of flowers opening are not fun.  Especially when you have a field full of insects and live plants outside.  I digress….

Nevertheless, this gave me an idea.  What if we grew our own plants, our own vegetables, thought about the environment around us and really explored what happened.  Perhaps then J would eat his veg.  And if not, he’d certainly learn all about pollination and the responsibility of keeping plants alive and nurturing them.

The first morning, we headed to the garden centre for seeds.  We looked at different seeds, talked about the seeds and J was really interested to know why some looked so similar to those he had seen scattered around Nana’s garden where the birds had dropped them.  He enjoyed the garden centre so much that he decided he’d like to make his toy shop into one.  So we wondered about, looked at all the things for sale and decided what to buy.  We ended up with a few plant pots as J thought we had everything else we needed at home.

We’d already collected compost and enough seeds so armed with our purchases, off we went.  It was still freezing so we decided to plant in the conservatory instead of straight outside even though the packet said we could.  This sparked a great discussion about the weather and the snow and ice and climate change.  I couldn’t believe the conversation I was getting from a 3 year old – just because he was excited.  At the same time, I was sad though – thinking about the kids at school who had zero interest in the same topic.  If only I could do this with them.

Everything was eventually planted and I headed off to the kitchen for a brew; when I came back, J had lined up all his plant pots on the floor of his garden centre and had filled them with his left over seeds.  “1,2,3,4,5…” he counted sunflower seeds into one pot. “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10” He counted strawberry seeds into another pot.  “You have to put lots in mummy because they won’t all grow.  Or the birds might eat them you know.” I couldn’t believe it

counting     growth

He then decided he had better tidy up or “the dog might eat them like the birds” and went off to write a shopping list of more seeds we might need just like he had seen the lady in the garden centre doing when she told a customer she would order some exotic plants in.

Now, this was all months ago but the excitement of it has come back to me again – first last week as we harvested the first courgettes and then again today when his sunflowers opened for the first time.  J gave his grandma very clear (and very polite) instructions for how to keep his plants alive when we were on holiday and she followed these to the letter.  He asked her not to cut the courgettes down even though they were getting big as he wanted to do it himself when he was back.  And who wouldn’t?  He had, at the tender age of 3, waited patiently for months for them to grow.


So last week, we harvested them.  Now they were more like marrows by this point but boy, did they make delicious soup.  And J ate every single bit of it!