We went out on the allotment yesterday with the promise that my girls would finally be able to get some seeds sown. Sowing and harvesting are definitely the highlights of kitchen gardening and certainly the bits the girls look forward to most but they are gradually learning that there is other necessary work in between. I have been explaining to them the need for preparation. I'm quite grown up about this now because really inside I'm just the same as them and I just want to get on and plant stuff too. But wisdom comes with age (not that I'm that old!) and I know that proper preparation will save work (mainly weeding) later and will produce better returns. So having made a raised bed for them last weekend, we started this weekend by carefully measuring and marking out the bed into smaller planting areas.
I say "carefully measuring" but in the end it mostly came down to eye and whether it looked right. I measured the whole bed first - 140cm wide and 485cm long. I'd neglected to bring a piece of paper with me so I scribbled down these measurement on the side of a plant label. Then I needed to divide the width into 3 and the length into 15. By now I was wishing I'd brought a calculator with me because I haven't done long division since I was at school and even then it had baffled me somewhat. So I confidently marked out the width into 3 roughly 46cm sections using a staple gun (cheap off ebay) and string. Less confidently I marked the length out into 5 sections of roughly 90cm, with the central box being bigger than the others. Then two of these I marked out into 30cm sections. So now I had a 90cm box for my youngest daughter to plant her potatoes in, nine 30cm squares for her vegetable garden, another 90cm box for my eldest daughter to plant her potatoes in, nine 30cm squares for her vegetable garden, and the remaining space for a shared crop of sweetcorn.
That done we got on with the really important stuff - putting in bits and pieces to make it look pretty! A wind sock my eldest had made a school, a rain gauge we had bought last year from Tesco for the bargain price of 25p, the stones we had painted last year to look like bugs, the flower sticks I had bought from Lidl's a few weeks ago, the wire frames in the shape of a frog and a dragonfly I'd bought from Wilkinson's last year. Ahh... that's better.
Finally time for planting. I made them each a wigwam of canes and they pushed in 12 pea seeds each. Then we positioned some one planters on their plots and filled them with a mix of potting compost and sand. We'd grown carrots in these last year and it had been very successful with beautiful long, straight roots. So we sowed some more carrots in these. Next it was beetroot and lettuce for my youngest and rocket and radish for my eldest. Job down for now.
Back home I potted on the herb plug plants and tomato plants I'd bought from Wilkinson's a few weeks ago. And then it was time to wash hands before tea.