Shall We Plant Potatoes, Little D?

Shall we plant potatoes, Little D? No, I want to watch Lego Ninjago, thank you. Oh go on, it won't take long. No, I think I want to watch Lego Ninjago, please. There will be soil and potatoes. Really?! Yes. Why didn't you say so before! What about Lego Ninjas? Ninjago, it's pronounced Nin-ja-go. This is the conversation that can be heard drifting upstairs on Sunday morning, then there is the thud of the front door opening and yells of where's me wellies. Little D is planting spuds. We have been saving potatoes for Little D to plant for sometime but in the middle of the plastering and a new kitchen, the spuds have been sprouting silently on the family room table but today is the day, the sun is shining and Little D has nothing pressing in his diary. His Lego booby traps the corridor upstairs are set, Obi Wan Kenobi's light sabre pointing dangerously upwards in the hands of a Lego corn man -- for those of you completely obliviously to Lego, the act of standing on any piece of Lego is accompanied by four letter words and welts on your feet to give standing on an angry hedgehog a run for its money.

Gardening with children, gardening

The first rule of gardening with kids is, forget the rules, forget telling them what to do -- you can ask them but they will largely ignore you whilst singing a song from television, church or something they heard on the radio; normally the lyrics will be largely inappropriate or misheard and re-purposed for ultimate giggles: 'He's got his whole bum in his hands' or our favourite, 'God gave socks with holes to you, gave socks with holes to you, gave socks with holes to everyone'. The second rule of gardening with kids is THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO YOU. These rules are a bit like the rules of Fight Club but the rules of Fight Club that have been ignored by children. The final rule of gardening with children is it will be messy, like the aftermath of Fight Club. Let's face it, gardening with kids is Fight Club. Gardening with kids is not Tipsy and Tom (yes, we know we have changed their names but you get the point) being all simpering, it's a litany of don't do that, don't poke that, try this, why did you just chuck that hedgehog under my feet? However, now and again things do go well and today is potato day and the potato is Cara. Whose Cara? Cara is the name of potato. Who was she? (glibly) A character in Cheers. What's Cheers? A comedy set in a bar. What's a bar? A pub. Oh, I like pubs. Does the potato drink beer like Daddy. Cue a long winded tale about the time Daddy drank two pints and obviously has a drink problem because he drinks at least four pints a year. This is gardening with kids, it is messy and full of wonderful tangents that make you laugh, cry and mutter under your breath. So, here are the rules of planting potatoes in potato sacks for the adults: (1) Fill the potato sack to around 4-5 inches deep with good compost, (2) Place in 3-4 potatoes, (3) Cover over with more compost, (4) Water and put somewhere sheltered. 

gardening with children

Here's how it works with Little D. (1) Little D fills the potato sack with compost, when asked to stop filling it up he flings the remaining compost over his shoulder, gets up and says, Thanks for letting me plant those potatoes, it was fun. I'm going in now. You've not planted the potatoes yet, Little D. Have I not, are you sure? Yes love, the potatoes are here next to me. (Said like it's the ultimate magic trick) How they get there? (2) Place the potatoes in the bottom of the potato sack, place 3-4 if you understand they need growing space or just put in 7-9 because they look happier that way. 

gardening, life on pig row

Then get up, dust the compost off your lap and tell the entire street in an OUTDOOR VOICE that YOU'RE GOING INSIDE FOR BREAKFAST. It's lunch. We've had breakfast. (Mortified) WHEN?


Tell Little D that you both have to add more compost to the one sack done and do the other one. Cue compost flying and asking to sit on the other compost bag because it looks 'cosy'. Then cue grimaces over potatoes that look like aliens.

 gardening, aliens, chidrens imagination

Place 9-15 potatoes in the bottom of the second sack because this sack looks even more lonely than the last one and they need more compost on them until we cannot see their sadness. 


Ask to take a photo of a sad potato.


Then fill until sad alien potatoes are 'cosy' and then get up trailing compost into the house. Ask Little D to water them, cue ten minutes of Where's my watering can? Behind the mint. Which mint? The mint by the front door. Which front door? Behind you. Where? Behind you. Cue panto farce and having to get up with dead feet that make you hobble across the stage as a dozen cyclists pass you as you wince hello to them as you cross the front garden like you have piles. Just as you get to where the watering can is, cue Little D shouting, I've found it. After another ten minutes of filling the watering can which involves existential questioning on God, death and ice cream, water the potatoes, and cries of I can do it whilst spraying water up your nostrils.


Gardening with children can take you to some wonderful places but remember you can set them a structure but for your own sanity don't cling to it. For the record, God likes raspberry ripple and Death is quite keen on knickerbocker glory.


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