Finally, a few frost free weeks! I am really, really enjoying the sunshine. It's much, much more relaxing spending time outdoors with the girls when it's not freezing cold or tipping it down with rain. And so we've finally started thinking about growing things again. Our estate is modest - a large raised bed around the edge of our patio garden and a small (about the size of a single bed) plot in the grounds of a local climbing centre - but I intend to make the most of our tiny taste of rural life in the city!
Through the long winter our resident worms remind us that, one day the sun will shine and we'll be able to get growing, whiling away the hours with dirt between our fingers. We invested in a wormery a couple of years ago. It seemed ridiculous to be sending our vegetable scraps off to be composted by the local council, only to then find it a big hassle to find, and transport, the bags of peat-free compost we wanted for growing a few veggies. Making our own compost makes a lot of sense practically and is a great environmental education tool. I had no idea it would be such a hit with little M. She loves it.
Little M often asks "Mummy, can I feed the worms" please. We bought a 'Worm Cafe' kit complete with some 'worm treat' to keep the worms healthy. It really captured her imagination and she has developed a near obsession for dishing out the worm treat. She'll happily sit tearing up egg boxes for them and always reminds me to save some scraps for the worms when we're cooking together. The first time a nursery pal came around for a play-date she was proudly taken outside to help feed the worms. Let's not dwell so much on the time that little M threatened to feed Dee Dee Dragon, little L's favourite toy, to the worms in a moment of sibbling jealously!
Despite little M's enthusiam, our worms have been a tiny bit neglected, hidden behind kitchen remnants and builders rubble during our refurbishment work last autumn and then just on the receiving end the horribly long winter we've just had. But quite a lot of them are still working away so we had a lovely crop of compost ready to harvest to give the veggies we've been planting this week a good start. Little M was delighted to dig out a carrier bag full to take up to the mini-plot, pretty pleased with the results of all her months of feeding the worms.
The girls and I spent a lovely day this week pottering around the garden and (after a slightly fraught trip to the garden centre) finally getting a few things planted in our mini-plot. It felt idyllic. We shared a picnic in the sunshine and had fun spotting tadpoles in the wildlife pond that's tucked away in a hidden corner. Two over-excited small children and a pond left no hands free for snapping a picture - little L really wanted to dive in and was wrigglier than the tadpoles - but I have a picture etched in my mind of four tiny hands reaching to touch the tadpoles with the sun glinting on the water.
The only things left living in the plot were a couple of strawberry plants and a few forgotten onions. One onion provide a welcome decoy for an enthusiastic little L who spent long enough dipping it in and out of the watering can for little M and I to get a few plants and seeds into their new homes. We've got plenty of seeds left to get going at home - great entertainment for a spare half hour on a weekday. Little L wants to be outside all the time. I don't blame her - you can see in her face how excited she is by her first ever experiences of independent exploring in the sunshine. I think we'll be spending lots of time in our very modest 'garden' this summer. Kids instinctively know what the good things in life are!