Summary: How Does Our Garden Grow? #SowAndGrowUK

Over the last few months, I’ve been involved in the Sow And Grow campaign (#SowAndGrowUK) with innocent and GIY (Grow It Yourself). This has been a national project to encourage kids to grow their own veg to help them better understand where their food comes from. By growing it themselves, ‘food empathy’ is created, which means kids are much more likely to eat – and enjoy eating – fruit and vegetables. As any ‘owner’ of a toddler knows, this is a constant battle.

As part of the campaign, teachers in a quarter of UK’s primary schools – that’s 6,666 in total – were able to apply for a free growing kit. Like the one we received, this had enough material for a class of 32 and included seeds, cups, soil and a resource pack, thus allowing schools to incorporate the sowing and growing process into their classroom lessons. Sure, you can learn about nature, photosynthesis etc from a textbook, but I know I’d have found learning more fun and relatable with practical activities like these.

Never too young to start, Toddler L and I have had a bash at growing our own vegetables as part of Sow And Grow. Like a modern day Charlie Dimmock – I too don’t wear a bra when gardening – we planted cress, runner beans and carrots. Since planting our seeds back in February, we’ve experienced the dizzying highs of self-sufficiency by sowing, growing and eating the cress, as well as the frustrating lows where we’ve been unable to keep the runner beans and carrots alive.

As shared in my previous two updates here and here, we had no issue growing the cress. After eating our first batch, we even planted some more and saw little, green shoots within 24 hours. For a while, I assumed that I was the father equivalent to Mother Nature as Toddler L and I tucked into food like tuna melt (with cress) toasties.

innocent and giy sow and grow uk #sowandgrowuk cress on tuna melt toastie

However, my green-fingered narcissism got the better of me. After losing a runner bean plant and carrots due to a combination of too much sun and not enough water, we were down to our final two cups. These were moved outside as the weather got nicer, but I fear they are too far gone to realise their veggie destiny. For whatever reason, they seem to have given up the ghost despite their new surroundings. I’d love to know why, but they’re keeping quiet for now. It genuinely makes me wonder how I’ve kept Toddler L alive for so long…

Anyway, although our sowing and growing exploits have had mixed success, it has spurred us on to do more. The last two weeks have seen us actually go to a garden centre for it’s intended purpose – who knew that a garden centre was more than a free day out for your toddler? Here, we bought a trough planter, soil and a few different seeds. Since getting our garden landscaped last year, we’ve not had a specific veg patch anymore, so this should do the job for our recently planted potatoes, onions and carrots. Note the wilting runner bean plant and carrot leaves. RIP.

We’ve also bought a few things for inside too to incorporate in our cooking. We used to use a lot of the supermarket herb and spice jars, but have recently experimented with fresher things as a result of a Hello Fresh subscription. So garlic cloves rather than garlic granules, fresh chillies rather than chilli flakes, ginger root rather than ground ginger etc.

As such, alongside our latest cups of cress, we’re growing some tomatoes and have bought a chilli plant. Sure, the latter might be cheating slightly, but with my track record of growing vegetables, I didn’t want to chance it this time! We also have seeds from various herbs – chives, basil, mint, parsley etc – which we still need to plant, but haven’t got around to doing this just yet. I find you need to be in the right mind frame when a toddler is ‘helping’ with stuff like this…

 

innocent and giy sow and grow uk #sowandgrowuk cress chilli and tomato on windowsill

As a wrap up of our involvement in #SowAndGrowUK, I thought I’d share three of the main lessons I’ve learnt during the campaign:

  1. Getting out into the garden and planting your own fruit and veg is a fun, educational family activity. Toddler L and I enjoyed planting the seeds and I was surprised at how interested and capable she was when it came to helping out. It was also good to get away from TVs, toys and other distractions to focus solely on doing something ‘messy’ together.
  2. Involving your kid(s) in the planting, growing and harvesting process is likely to see them more interested in the idea of eating more fruit and veg. After helping to plant the seeds and water the plants as they grew, Toddler L didn’t hesitate when I offered her cress to eat – both directly from the cup and in her meals. I can guarantee that she wouldn’t have done that if she wasn’t involved in the process.
  3. You will have successes and failures, but that’s all part of the learning experience – at least that’s what I’ve told myself every night that I cry myself to sleep as I remember the runner beans and carrots. Either way, you’ll come out the other side with an enthusiasm and desire to want to grow different things and incorporate them into your meals.

Remember, throughout the campaign, kids are being encouraged to upload their photos at https://innocentsowandgrow.com to be in with the chance to win monthly prizes from innocent and see their classroom crowned as #SowAndGrowUK champions.

N.B. This is a commissioned post in collaboration with innocent for #SowAndGrowUK