September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Quite frankly, I am astonished!!

On a high from finishing digging out the boys’ digging patch, and with my shiney new sieve to use, I thought I’d see what was left in the old potato bags that have been languishing down the garden. Two years ago (I think) I bought a couple of potato bags and some tubers, planted them quite late, looked after them badly, and harvested a tiny handful from one entire bag on Christmas Day.

I pretty much left and forgot about the other bag.

So imagine my astonishment when this haul was uncovered from the other bag today!! For a bag that has been pretty much ignored for the last two years this is incredible.

So, I am inspired to try again. I get regular emails from Thompson & Morgan who I initially bought the tubers from, so I knew that now was the time to plant chitting potatoes to grow for a Christmas harvest.

Baby helped with the sieving by trying to pull out and eat the pretty yellow potatoes, Boy helped by putting the potatoes into his truck when the little dish I’d fetched to put the potatoes in suddenly became far too small.

The soil looked pretty good, there was a lot of old potato matter in there which looked like it would continue to break down into compost. I might start adding my coffee grounds to the potato bags, as well as the potato food I have in the shed.

Once we’d fished out all the potatoes (and a lot of roots which may well have belonged to some big weeds that had been growing in there) we put some of the soil back in – about 8″ I guess. The boys both helped with this!

Then we looked through our haul of potatoes and chose some bigger ones that had “tails” to re-plant. (I threw in the really tiny ones as well.) The boys helped to re-cover the potatoes, and then we watered them in.

I really hope that we remember to go out and take care of them this time.

Which reminds me – Boy came home from our Wednesday toddler group with a carton of cress seeds for me to water…. better go take a look at them!

Tomorrow or Monday I need to strip some of the copper wire sitting in a pile outside the kitchen and coil it around the base of the bags, stop the slugs and snails getting to my spuds… I’d rather not have to resort to pellets, not with Charley’s taste-testing habit of full at the moment!


Just keep digging…

September 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Dig dig digging, just keep digging…

I finally dug up the digging patch today! My back is going to pay for it but I think it is going to be well worth the effort.

The boys helped of course. Initially Boy was indoors watching a movie and asked if Baby could stay with him, but Baby had other ideas and made a noise like a siren going off to alert Daddy to the fact that he’d rather be outdoors. He didn’t half wail when I walked back into the living room with him to fetch his jumper, he thought I was going to put him down again! He stopped as soon as I opened the back door though, and started his little happy yapping as he followed Boy outside 😀

So Boy dug, and helped kinda; and Baby tried to eat the dirt, and hit it with a rake, and climbed in and out of the slowly (very slowly) deepening pit, shrieking little happy shrieks in between mouthfuls of dirt. I’m so glad I’m finally getting round to removing as much rubble as possible from that patch.

Two huge tubfuls of rubble later (including a large amount of broken glass) and a massive mound of soil and worms, and I think we’re done. There’s about 6″ depth of digging done on average, which I think is plenty deep enough to grow things from bulbs, and to dig around in. I’m going to bury treasure in it on occasion too, I found an awesome idea for dinosaur eggs somewhere!

It took a good couple of hours to dig out this pile of earth. Mainly because I had to keep stopping to allow Baby to climb and slide down Mt Mudslide, and to allow Boy to help…

I still can’t believe he was happily trying to eat dirt.

Tomorrow I’m going to get them to help (them? who am I kidding, Baby’s just going to try and eat it again) scoop the sieved soil back into their pit, and then we can add the coffee grounds and crushed eggshells and dig it all in.

I am honestly shocked at how much coffee we get through! When you’re tipping filters full of grounds straight into the compost bin you don’t really notice how much you’re getting through. When you start saving the grounds ready to add to soil, and are filling bowl after bowl, it’s quite astonishing! Was pretty happy to see a notice in the supermarket cafe yesterday offering their used coffee grounds free to anyone who wanted. Might ask for some next time we’re there!

I did save some bits of rubble though. There was a bit of broken pottery and tiles, and some pretty stones, and a couple of huge bent rusty nails so I think once they’re cleaned up we’ll start a treasure box and once we’ve got a fair amount we can have a go at making those cement tiles.

In the meantime there are a few things we could try growing. As well as daffodil bulbs, we could plant garlic ready for spring, and onions too. Potatoes need to go in their own bag really, maybe that’s a job for this week as well, to tip out the old potato bags and start again. If we plant potatoes now they could be ready for Christmas which is just a little bit exciting!!

Garden activities

September 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

We went out and bought a garden sieve today – the boys’ digging patch is going to get a bit of a makeover next week! We’re going to dig up as much of the soil as possible, and put it through the sieve to get rid of as much of the building rubble as possible. I’ve also been saving all our coffee grounds and eggshells as various places I’ve read suggest that you can add these straight into the soil, they don’t need composting first. The boys should love helping dig that in! Looking forward to planting bulbs in there although I’m not sure they would get a chance to grow: they’d more likely be dug up now that BOTH boys have a taste for digging…

Once we’re done, I found this amazing idea for what we can do with any treasures we find, over on Nurturestore’s blog. Cement tiles! I’m really looking forward to that. I’m not sure whether Messy Baby will be actively involved in that. Maybe while I’m out taking Messy Baby to some heuristic play sessions, Messy Dad and Messy Boy can be making cement art?!

I’m looking forward to next week. Now I’m over my worries about Baby roaming the garden, I can actively enjoy spending time outdoors with them both again. Cuts and scrapes can be soothed with savlon and plasters, bumps with cuddles, stones can be retrieved from mouths. Even if Boy decides to cover Baby in soil again we can deal with it!

Messy Baby Painting

September 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok… maybe mess isn’t so bad after all 😉

paper rolls

Here’s the paper rolls. Baby thought they were fascinating.

messy baby paper rolls

So he helped choose which ones to use. Kind of. He mainly transferred the rolls from one place to another. I think there’s still one under the sink.

harlequin floor!

I used a LOT of masking tape. I was going to use lining paper but having changed into painting clothes I discovered an almost catastrophic lack of lining paper – but in its place was a new roll of large pieces of sugar paper. Result!

ready and waiting to paint...

Ready to go. We collected all our paints and bits from our craft drawers, and Baby helped push the trolley back into the kitchen. That was his first go at walking holding onto the trolley rather than our hands, he was pretty good at it! He was far more interested in the contents of the trolley though…

testing the brushes

I misfired one of the paint bottles and got Baby by mistake…. he looked a little taken aback but carried on testing the brushes for me.


I love splattering paint around. REALLY love it. Baby carried on investigating the contents of the trolley! He wasn’t massively keen on squidging the paint.

all done

And here we have it: the finished papers. I don’t think many of them will make it into Messy Mama Artwork but who knows. Maybe I’ll fall in love with one or two of them once they’re dry.

painted baby

All ready for a shower with Mama. Beautiful!

This was Baby’s first encounter with paint. He wasn’t massively keen on the texture of it, I have to admit! It was a short-lived, very messy, paint attack – but as first encounters go, it wasn’t bad! Baby was very tired though, we have not been sleeping well and he grouched his way through our shower afterwards, and was asleep within minutes of snuggling on the bed together.

I must remember, even while encouraging him to explore paint and texture and all that kind of stuff, that he isn’t Messy Boy and his loves will be different. I must remember to not be blinded by my own love of music and art, to be able to notice what kind of things make him tick as he grows!

Messy Mama In Training….

September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have a confession to make.

I really don’t enjoy mess!!

I live in a building site (it’s getting better) but I like my little bits of ordered, clean, calm.

A lovely friend introduced me to the concept of getting messy with my kids last summer and I LOVE her for it. Even if I was having to physically restrain myself from intervening when Messy Boy decided that painting my feet (as well as the paper) was a good idea! Glad we were outdoors at the time…

Anyway as yet Messy Baby hasn’t yet been included in our messy endeavours. Over the summer, with all the clubs and preschools closed, any craft or art that we’ve done has been centered on Messy Boy.

But school starts this afternoon. Monday afternoons, and Friday afternoons: they’re going to be Messy Baby’s time! And I really hope that we can start to explore art and creating together.

I think that the summer closure of clubs is only really an excuse to be honest. There’s a big part of me dreading doing messy art with Baby. Just imagine the mess… Even if I do cover the kitchen floor with lining paper and strip him naked and have a bath ready and waiting, it’s going to be Messy.

Wish me luck!

Here’s my planning list:

  • Run bath
  • Tape paper to floor
  • Find paints
  • Collect tools – paintbrushes, sponges, scrubbing brushes, corks, stampers
  • Strip baby
  • Squirt paint onto paper, add baby
  • Join in!
  • Hope husband comes home in time to entertain the boys while I clean the kitchen again 😉


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