PARENTS

Get Your Children Digging Vegetables

13/05/2009 13:41 | Updated 22 May 2015

You can't pick up a newspaper these days without reading about how and why we should all be gardening and everyone it seems has either an allotment or is waiting for one.

While Britain's passion for all things horticultural is hotting up – if it's possible to get even hotter – many of my friends are decidedly lukewarm about it.

However, I fear I'm becoming quite obsessed. It's on my mind morning, noon and night and when I'm not thinking about it, I can be found on my veggie patch or in my greenhouse.

It's a hobby that's taking over my life and, if you were to ask my family, a lot of the house too. Packets of seeds, flowery secateurs, gardening books and magazines can be found nearly everywhere.

But what puzzles me is why some people would rather run a mile than run a hoe between rows of onions. After all what's not to love?It is truly life-enhancing and is not only good for you but the planet and your children too. They benefit in all sorts of ways including learning valuable life skills, eating fresh organic veg and, in the case of my brood, living with a mum who also benefits hugely from gardening. They win all round.

I think the seeds of my obsession were sown many years ago, if you'll pardon the pun, but they just needed the right conditions to flourish.

When I was pregnant with my first child thirteen years ago I remember sowing a small army of terracotta pots with different sunflower seeds. Of course, once our baby arrived my nurturing had a new focus and the sunflowers withered away.

Then my husband got me a second hand greenhouse and I had visions of growing peppers and tomatoes until baby number two came along and that was that.

A third child was added to our brood along with an allotment, which was not a remotely trendy thing to have seven years ago.

Here, I have to confes, my success was rather mixed. So mixed in fact that often I thought of my allotment as rather demanding – taking a lot but giving not much in return.

But oh how wrong I was. And how glad I am that I stuck with it, planted rhubarb, courgettes and nasturtiums just so that I would have something, anything other than weeds growing and that would not require hours I didn't have.

And finally, conditions for nurturing my gardening passion are just right. I have time now my youngest is at pre-school two mornings a week and I have the support of my husband who has shifted tonnes of topsoil, heaved sleepers, built a greenhouse and generally been rather wonderful.

While gardening, and vegetable growing in particular, is time consuming it gives me so much more than it takes. I feel empowered that I can feed my family without relying completely on others, it gives me space physically and mentally and lets me be creative.

When I think about it I wonder why those indifferent friends don't pick up a trowel and a packet of seeds. Is it confidence? Time? Or have I bored them so much on the subject they can think of a million things they'd rather do?

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