gardening with kids – watering, wigwam making and wise words from an old friend

May 11, 2018 at 8:28 am 15 comments

On Saturday morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there were whisperings of ”allotment, allotment” in the air. It was already 2 weeks since our last visit to sow our first seeds of 2018. I knew there wouldn’t be many signs of life in our seed beds but I wanted Euan to understand the importance of being habitual with our visits, especially to water on sunny days. It’s a about a 25 minute walk for little legs to the plot and I’ve accepted Euan can only really do it one way on a hot day to remain moan free. Last time we got a lift down with George on his way to work but that meant we were there an hour before our allotment guardian Dave arrived and toddler Luca was full of energy, excitement and mischief. On Saturday I decided it would work better to play at home for a bit and walk to the plot when Luca was ready for his nap. It wouldn’t give us much time to work but on a hot day our visit would be cut short anyway as there’s little shade on the plot. I set my sights on achieving one task of sowing some new seeds and anything else would be a bonus.

6 year old watering at the allotment

Sometimes knowing you are short of time is good for concentrating the mind and in the 30 minutes that Luca napped we managed to water our seed beds, sow a row of beetroot and make a wigwam for our runner beans. As expected there was no sign of our carrots (they usually take about 3 weeks to germinate) but the lettuce was peaking out of the ground and the water cress was showing some signs of surfacing.

handful of runner beans for planting

Euan was excited about making a runner bean wigwam and surprised by how quick and easy it was. We borrowed 6 bean poles from Dave and pushed them into the ground in the shape of a hexagon. We used 2 cable ties to fasten the poles together at the top and then planted a bean either side of each bean pole and a few spares in the centre. Euan was intrigued to see the different varieties of beans Dave had saved from last year and said he felt like Jack in the story of the magic beanstalk as he popped them in his pocket to walk back to our patch to plant them. I’m not quite sure how the 3 varieties of beans we planted (white, purple and black and brown) will differ in appearance and taste but that’s half the fun of gardening using saved seeds isn’t it!

6 year old making a runner bean wigwam

Dave offered us some greens to plant as he always sows more than he needs so he can share plants with other allotment holders. We declined the offer as we only have a small amount of space and I wanted Euan to grow things he enjoys eating. He was quite keen to grow a cabbage, inspired by a photo in Dave’s shed of him holding a giant 36lb cabbage, but he was easily persuaded not to when I pointed out it wouldn’t be ready until summer was long gone. Each year Dave tries to beat his 36lb record and there’s a friendlyand informal giant cabbage growing competition that goes on among other growers on the plot that starts with donations of Dave’s seedling cabbages.

Dave's giant 36lb cabbage -

We’re saving the last bit of space on our patch for some tomato plants Dave is currently bringing along in his shed. Tomatoes are my favourite produce to grow and the reason I took on an allotment in the first place (thanks to my love of green tomato chutney and not being able to source green tomatoes anywhere). I’m really hoping our tomatoes don’t suffer blight again like they did last summer. At least when you only have a small patch the loss of 4 plants doesn’t feel as great as the year blight destroyed over 20 previously strong, healthy, fruit giving tomato plants.

We were delighted to see our friend Henri at the plot on Saturday. He’s a familiar figure during harvest time when he leaves the plot pushing his bike laden with his allotment grown produce. Henri will celebrate his 94th birthday this year which is amazing having undergone a triple heart bypass operation 7 years ago. He’s in pain every day and beginning to struggle with some of the heavier allotment tasks but his plot is still immaculate and abundant. Henri is Italian and grows grapes on his allotment that he nurtured from seeds smuggled insidea hanky in his pocket when he arrived in Gloucester soon after the second world war had ended. His brother had been a prisoner of war in the Forest of Dean and stayed here when he was freed having fallen in love with a local girl. Henri decided to join his brother in Gloucester and he took on his allotment not long after. It’s amazing to think his grape vine is truly one of a kind in England and he makes about 14 litres of wine each year from the grapes he picks.

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

Henri is so knowledgable and we all love to hear his gardening wisdom. When I asked if I could take a picture of him with Euan he said ”Of course” and reached his arm out for a hug. I loved the picture I snapped but there was something missing. I took a second picture and this time got Henri’s bike in the frame. If you know Henri you just can’t picture him down at the allotment without his bike!

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

I think this second picture could be one of my all time favourite allotment photos now. I love what it says about Euan’s delight at simply being on the allotment. I love the ease of these two allotment buddies, born 87 years apart, in front of the camera and with one another. And it reminds me of a picture I shared in another post featuring Henri called ”I is for … inspired by older people”.

Talk to old people, they know cool stuff

Conversation connects and encourages people. We all have cool stuff to share and we need more ways to bring people of different generations and cultures together. All over the country this is happening on allotments and I feel so lucky to have been welcomed back into this beautiful allotment community with my boys.

© ‘‘Talk to old people, they know cool stuff you don’t. Talk to young people, they know cool stuff you don’t” image was from a website called ‘We are what we do’ which is sadly no longer on-line. The brilliant book created by them called Change the world for a fiver’ can still be found pre-loved though.

Keeping it real logo - copy

Entry filed under: allotment tales, gardening with kids, Gloucestershire, great people.

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15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debbie  |  May 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Nic, how lovely that Euan enjoys gardening as much as you do. Watching things grow from seed and being able to eat the end product will encourage him to enjoy good home grown fruit and veg… It will be interesting to see if the different beans grow any differently or all end up the same… I’m having a hard time imagining just how big a 36Ib is, but I’m sure it will make a lot of coleslaw!… Henri sounds like an interesting character and it is nice to see friendships formed across the generations… Our neighbour, who was an avid gardener until a couple of years ago, is 87 now and not in good health. It must be difficult to let things like that go. It’s actually quite sad to see.
    Thank you for popping over and linking up with #keepingitreal

  • 2. Carol  |  May 15, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I love a family that gardens with the kids. It’s a great life learning experience…especially from the seed to the table. Your garden is going to be amazing and I’m looking forward to more photos in the future.

  • 3. Michele  |  May 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Yes! We need to share and celebrate! So true! I love these words you share with us! #WanderingWednesday

  • 4. Haddie | Fun Is Better Than Perfect  |  May 17, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Such a beautiful post! I love the beauty of growing and nurturing, of young minds, community and plants too:) #wanderingwednesday

  • 5. Lori  |  May 17, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Gardening with our family teaches on so many levels. It is great to get outside together, learn new things, and grow a little more hope and perspective in the process!

    • 6. Nip it in the bud  |  May 17, 2018 at 10:01 pm

      absolutely, I always feel like I lift the lid off my brain when I’m outside and while my tendency is to go inward and retreat as an introvert it’s really great to connect with other people over a common interest

  • […] morning visit to the allotment yesterday. The day before I’d received a text from Dave to say our runner beans were coming up so we were excited to go and check their progress and see how the rest of our seeds […]

  • 8. Candelo Blooms  |  July 3, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Great post and so lovely to see you encouraging a love of gardening and nature in your children- so important, not just for them,, but also the future of our planet! Happy Gardening!!!

  • 9. Jeff Wood  |  July 3, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    I love the family all gardening together! A 36lb cabbage would be quite the sight to see. I wish I could grow something that big!

    • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  July 4, 2018 at 5:28 am

      Yes imagine! I love that each year Dave tries to beat it. He’s not sure what the winning combination was that year.

  • 11. oldhouseintheshires  |  July 16, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Oh I love this!
    Tomatoes -yes, last year I lost all mine to blight too -I think it was the wet and then humid weather. I’ve planted some inside out greenhouse and some outside as a test this year. They are doing really well but this dry weather has been a challenge hasn’t it? How have your carrots done as mine died in this heat also my beans are not as vigorous this year either.
    Love Henri! I taught a family a few years ago who did exactly what he has done. The grandfather had bought the seeds over when they moved over after the war and each year, they would get together to trample the grapes underfoot. A multi generational task that must have been amazing! They would bring me wine as a end of year gift….I miss that family!
    Your blog is just the kind that I wanted to connect with so thank you!
    Hope to see you again in August for the next #MyGloriousGardens link party. Xx

    • 12. Nip it in the bud  |  July 16, 2018 at 11:01 am

      My tomatoes need a bit of extra love too, if it was down to us keeping an eye on them they’d have passed over into gardeners heaven by now! Thankfully Dave gives them a splash of water from time to time as he’s there everyday. We only have 2 carrots from sowing a whole row 2 weeks ago they were still there so fingers crossed they’ve survived!
      That’s wonderful that you have memories of a family growing their own grapes for wine too. Henri made 80 gallons of wine from his last year, it’s extraordinary. He gave me a bottle and said he makes it dry so if it’s not to my liking to mix it 50:50 with lemonade. I don’t drink but I’m tempted to try this combo when we open it for my Father-in-law to sample.

      • 13. oldhouseintheshires  |  July 16, 2018 at 4:35 pm

        Wow! 80 gallons! The grapes must be fabulous! We have an old grape vine in the old house garden but it’s behind roses and their climbing plants. It ends up climbing the tree! I really must try to train it on a new trellis.

  • […] 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 […]

  • […] a featured post but I have chosen a post by Nic over at Nip it in the bud. The link to her post is HERE. It’s a heartwarming post about gardening with family and neighbours and what we can learn from […]


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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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