Losing the plot!

Saturday, 14 July 2012 0 comments

We have recently had the pleasure of obtaining a raised bed in a polytunnel at the nearby Whitmuir organic farm. Whitmuir is a farm with a difference, they have all kinds of interesting things going on there and it is also a lovely place to go to eat. Now I am fully up to speed with handling two little boys by myself we go there once a week for a light lunch. The staff are very friendly, the double pushchair fits through all the doors (even the toilet!) and they have a great big stash of toys in the corner of the restaurant to keep little ones amused, which means Isaac can go play while we are waiting for our food to come – and I can feed Oscar in peace too. They also have many many highchairs which I love as most places round here seem to think 2 is a luxury – I have two children of my own that need highchairs, god forbid another family arrive who also want to eat?! In the winter they have a lovely log burner and in the summer you can also sit outside (although as I haven’t seen much of a summer yet I am yet to try this!). They have an art gallery (we stay well away for obvious reasons, it’s bad enough that Isaac usually doesn’t ‘see’ the spotless glass floor to ceiling windows on either side of the door so runs head first into them at full speed), and they have a shop selling an exceptionally wide range of natural and organic products, as well as their own produce from the farm.

So when I read on their notice board there that they were starting a community growing scheme I was intrigued. We live in a rented house with a lovely big garden, but the garden is communal and the landlord quite strict so we really have no place other than pots to grow things. I’d been a bit lax in this anyway recently as moving around so much and having the kids kind of makes anything other than just surviving surprisingly hard to do.  When I used to have my own garden I had quite a decent vegetable plot, but it was largely unsuccessful (due to a variety of factors such as rabbits/ drought/ blight/ shady trees!).

So it was with much excitement I left my details on the farm and I was even more excited when I heard back the following week that I was in luck – and they had one small half plot left in the polytunnel (given that the wait for an allotment where I was in Birmingham was approaching 3 years this was a very pleasant surprise!).

Anyway, we dashed out Monday morning to meet with the general overseer of the plots – Mike, and Isaac managed to get himself stuck in some Mud and then midged, so there was a fair amount of me dashing about rescuing one child or the other – but everything looked great and I decided then and there to make a go of it!
So, we have just got back from our first official plot visit. Our raised bed was empty except for a variety of weeds and a few shovels of soil that had been added in. We have spent the morning larking about in the mud (and there is a lot of mud – poor Whitmuir have been hit badly by flooding recently – even to the extent that their own farmhouse was flooded out). We filled up the bed with a few barrow loads of soil and a few of compost. I’ve never had a proper raised bed before, and never grown under polythene so it’s a bit of a novelty to me – we’ve used 50% compost and 50% soil to start us off and we’ll see how we go. The lovely thing about it is that as the polytunnel is covering the plot even on a rainy miserable day I can get the kids outside and let them muck about for a bit without them getting too soaked. 

 Isaac is a keen gardener (well digger!), helping out with shovelling things into the barrow and getting them out, he picked up some weeds and generally mooched about outside, chasing chickens and the farm dog. Although we tried to show him a worm (in the hope he might beat the chickens to a few live ones from outside and bring them in for our bed) but he was most perturbed by it wriggling around by itself and refused to have anything to do with it. I am sure he will get the gist as we spend more time out and about though. Preventing him from pinching the other peoples Gnomes (!), peas and strawberries was a whole different matter though! Oscar also enjoyed himself sitting about watching the world go by trying to catch hold of waving strands of grass, we took our lovely BundleBean with us and it worked a treat (for those of you who have children and don't know what a BundleBean is - shame on you - they are the best, most useful outdoorsy piece of baby kit EVER. If you read some of my other recent posts with pictures of pushchairs in - you will usually spot the BundleBean as we take it everywhere, it goes in the wash and dries uber quick, we LOVE it!).


So, here is our bed at the end of our first week as vegetable plotters and I think we have made it look lovely and warm and cosy ready for planting... now to try and think of things to plant that will crop before the end of the season... 


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