When lockdown officially began, we parents around the world were hit the new challenge of homeschooling. The thought of it was overwhelming and the magnitude of the task was daunting. We all did what we could, we tried our best, there were good days when we found joy in the extended family time; and some seriously hide under the duvet and block out the world days (I actually did this at one point).
And I know that I was not the only parent who decided that growing some stuff might be a great way of teaching kids whilst being outdoors and breaking up the monotony of the “school” day.
I was rather proud of myself that I had actually bought some seeds ahead of time, just in case if we did go into lockdown. However,I am not much of a gardener. My mother is though and thankfully she was quarantined with us at the beginning (unintentionally) so she helped us begin this project.
We planted all sorts: tomatoes, onions, thyme, carrots, potatoes, sage, garlic chives, salad leaves and sweetcorn.
The kids were enthusiastic at first, until they realised how much work this was going to be. I told them it was a good life lesson. That patience was needed and that we need to care for the seeds otherwise they wouldn’t grow. They both looked at the soil expectantly.
At first, we were all attentive waterers and care-givers. My partner built lovely planters for then to be potted on, but then my mum returned to London and then the plants were left to kind of fend for themselves as they faded in to the background a little bit. When we saw that the chives were ready to harvest this re-sparked our enthusiasm. As I cut them, gave them a rinse, chopped them and sprinkled them on the cod fillets that I was going to bake in the oven, I had a deep sense of satisfaction. It was only a herb, but it gave me so much pride that we had grown it and now I was cooking with it.
However, the tomato plants didn’t make it. They started off strong on our window sill, but then after a couple of really scorching days they had wilted and the lack of watering did not help. We did our best to revive them, but to no avail. The salad leaves also suffered and we truly felt ashamed of ourselves as they were supposed to be the easiest thing to grow.
Our triumph though was our first harvest of onions and potatoes. We dug them out of the ground and the children were just as excited as I was. The onions were small and sweet smelling and the potatoes actually looked like potatoes! I know this is a silly observation but I was expecting them to not look quite so well formed.
I used the lovely onions in tumeric rice and fried them with some vegetables to put in cous cous.
Our sweetcorn is growing gloriously in the back garden,the sage and thyme are blooming and I am so proud that we have a little, if not haphazard veggie patch going.
This unexpected bounty brought to mind psalm 104, it praises God and how he made the earth and its abundance.
The verses 14-15 really struck me:
“You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate, that he may
bring forth food from the earth and wine
to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine and bread
to strengthen man’s heart.”
To see the little plastic tub of onions and potatoes did in fact gladden my heart and the children’s. They were proud of what they had achieved, it took time and patience and a little faith; that something would survive out of out neglect.
Homeschooling the kids was no easy feat, it was hard for everyone, but I am thankful that we as parents have gotten to know them in a different way, that we have all bonded over our experience of growing vegetables and they want to do it again next year.