Why gardening isn’t growing on my family

Two perfect young gardeners in action. Picture: FarmVeld

Two perfect young gardeners in action. Picture: FarmVeld - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We're going to grow our own, one day, possibly not today, says Jo Malone.

'Let your children get involved with their food. Let them help grow it and prepare it.

'You can't beat the taste of vegetables fresh from the garden…' and so on and so on.

I've read so many of these articles, accompanied by photos of smiling families clutching armfuls of veg they've just pulled and picked and cut from their garden.

It's never just tomatoes either; there are always at least six different sorts of perfectly-shaped vegetables. I did grow some carrots with Sunny once, and they looked fine from the top. But when we pulled them up they were tiny, very knobbly and most looked as if they'd grown down an inch or so, decided they didn't like it down there and had grown in a u-turn back up towards the light. Sunny wasn't impressed; we didn't grow anything else.

I'm sure growing our own is something we ought to do though - only this week Thalia cut some purple sprouting broccoli from a good friend's garden and very much enjoyed eating it an hour or so later.

She is good at trying different foods, but Keola is convinced that any vegetables that aren't peas, carrots, sweetcorn or red peppers really don't need to exist.

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I'd already felt inspired by those perfect families with their perfect veg; surely growing our own will change Keola's mind?

This was to be the year we finally had an allotment bursting with fruit and vegetables, which we'd harvest exactly when we needed them and eat outdoors around a beautifully-dressed table in the evening sunshine.

I know the last part isn't us. We've a very ancient and wobbly plastic garden table, definitely not to be trusted with food; table decorating isn't my strong point, and any evening sunshine is always well hidden behind the trees. But I did think we could grow something. However even clearing the vegetable garden is taking far longer than I thought.

It's the perfect space, gorgeous man Rob fenced it with sleepers and posts and netting a few years ago. I did grow masses of sweet peas one year and my rabbits had the best fun in it last year.

This year though, one minute it was February and I was talking about spreading it with compost, and the next it was a foot deep in nettles.

Keola asked if she could garden with me, but her face fell when she saw the weeds. She tried really hard – swiping the nettles with a rake before they stung her (she has tried a scythe before but an eight year old spinning in circles with a large blade and a too-long-for-her handle gets a little alarming.) And trying to dig them out was a bit tricky when she's not heavy enough to get the spade in the soil.

'I thought gardening was planting seeds,' she admitted, so we gave up and planted the peas in pots. Hopefully we can transplant them later. It's not what the seed packet says, but it doesn't mention how long it takes to clear enough space to plant them in the first place.

Why does everything take so long?

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