What Kids Like To Do in the Garden

Regular readers will know that I am a member of the “Society of ELG“.

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Our founder, giving a seminar on something.

We have a lot of passionate people in the Society of Extremely Lazy Gardeners, but we are always looking to recruit new members. Thinking about joining? As a member you are entitled to a range of benefits:

– Low amounts of work

– High production of fruits and veggies.

– Money saving

– Great relationships with kids and neighbours

– General happiness and satisfaction.

Today was one of my laziest gardening afternoons but also probably my happiest. As an Extremely Lazy Gardener, I let many of my plants “go to seed”. This means that I don’t dig up or chop down all my veggies when they have finished producing their beans, fruit, and what not. For example, I leave a few lettuces unpicked until they shoot up into flowers and seeds. I leave a few broccoli unharvested so that their brocooli-bits turn into yellow flowers then seeds. I leave some zucchini to grow massive and hard then scoop out the seeds to be replanted next spring. I leave some of bean plants alone so their beans remain unpicked. They dry up and I can use the beans to plant again.

I like to tell people that I have a plan, but really it’s just that I forget to harvest some stuff, and nature did the rest. You have to ‘be okay’ with a garden that has a few towering, dried-up-looking stalks and a few rattling beans dangling from the vine. And believe me- I’m ok with it! Really, it’s just how everyone used to garden until they started selling seeds at the supermarket.

Anyway, enough about being lazy in the garden. Let’s talk about being lazy with kids in the garden! I wanted to include a brief description of what kids love doing in our garden:

Kids love:

  • planting broad bean seeds
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Another ELG member doing what I would consider to be a bit too much hard work in the garden. Probably trying to impress his kid. ELG Society rules state that broad beans should always be planted from a hammock or while half asleep in a wheelbarrow (see above).

 

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ain’t got a garden? do it in an old bottle!

  •  collecting and counting sunflower seeds from a dried up sunflower
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I asked my little fella how many seeds this one sunflower had given us. He said “Probably about 50hundred!” We counted them and turns out he was right…

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  • popping open dried-up bean pods and collecting the shiny beans
  • finding creatures in the jungle-garden

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two praying mantis mating- probably our best creature discovery in the garden. A great discussion was then had about what mating was and whether/why the female then ate the male’s head afterwards.

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  • eating tomatoes off the vine while they are still warm from the afternoon sun
  • eating anything within reach
  • pulling up a Jerusalem artichoke and plucking off the little tubers.

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  • Sharing these experiences with their friends in the street

 

All these things happened this afternoon. And it wouldn’t’ have happened had I not been so extremely lazy to have left all these seeds to dry up, pumpkin vines to take over (and harbour the amazing praying mantis), artichokes to grow in random places, sunflowers to wither, tomatoes to sprawl… Being extremely lazy has its rewards!

I’d love to hear your “what kids like to do in the garden” ideas too. Drop me a comment and we can all put together a list for others to be inspired by!

THE STORY OF THE ZUCHINI THAT TURNED INTO EGGS, THEN INTO A SRI LANKAN CURRY!

Regular readers may be familiar with these zucchini that recently turned into eggs

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Trombone zucchini tastes like zucchini, looks like…
well, lets just say it looks different.

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Our neighbour’s eggs- look like eggs, taste like…eggs

Well another zucchini we grew, just miraculously turned into a delicious curry and some other scrumdiddlyumptious side dishes, thanks to our lovely Sri Lankan neighbours!

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The swap happened under the cover of darkness. Which was a relief because I felt like I was getting a ridiculously good deal!

We do most of our vegetable gardening in our front yard (mainly because it gets good sun, and also because the backyard is shady fruit tree forest. Also it is because we used to have a dog that roamed the backyard, pooing everywhere and chasing anything ball-like). We don’t have a ginormous block so the front yard was always destined for greatness. I envisaged a manicured, practice putting green so our kids could turn into pro-golfers and I could retire… but instead I made it into a vegetable patch/jungle.

The major up-side of front yard gardening is that you meet a lot of your neighbours (who are often gardening too, or trying to avoid having to look at your scarecrow as they pass by… ). I love the privacy of the backyard when it’s ‘us time’ but I also love the community-feeling of being in the front yard too. We have neighbours with diverse backgrounds some with heritage in Sri Lanka, Italy, Lebanon, The UK, Greece… And I, (being white-trash) find it so interesting to hear about how their families all got to this country and then to our suburb and street. I feel privileged to be able to listen to their stories but it also makes me think of the people who are currently trying to find refuge in our country, but who find themselves detained for doing so…

These lovely people with their global accents almost all garden too, which I would venture, is often a feature of first-generation Australians. It’s a feature I am very endeared to!

I love hearing how different cultures garden and I love tasting how they turn their harvest into deliciousness. I have been very lucky to have inherited grape cuttings,  heirloom tomato seeds, figs, preserved olives, seedlings, and other assorted fruit and vegetables from these generous people. I have definitely received more than I have given away and for that, I want to say thankyou!

So the moral of this story is:

If you want a curry, grow a zucchini!

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Ok. This one won’t make it into a cook book but the skill was in not drooling all over the food while taking the photo. Can’t wait for lunch tomorrow!

The story of the lost chicken and the zuchinis that changed into eggs.

So the other day we received a letter in the mail saying someone had lost their chicken from their backyard. We had a look around and sure enough, there were a few eggs scattered around the dark corners of our backyard. Later that day we heard some clucking and out popped a chicken from under our apricot tree.

We called the number on the letter and met with our new neighbour who explained that she had saved some chickens from a battery farm.

A few weeks later we received 6 warm eggs from  our new chooky friends!

Now we trade excess fruit and zuchinis for eggs.

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here’s a picture of 6 eggs in a zuchini suit

It makes me so happy to be a part of this type of barter system, here in the concrete jungle. It’s a system that our ancestors have enjoyed for millennia and that is slowly creeping back into the lives of city dwellers, despite the efforts of the big supermarket chains to make us think that the only way to get ‘fresh’ produce is by buying it,wrapped in plastic from a refridgerated shelf in a shopping aisle.

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and this is a zucchini, cunningly disguised as 6 fresh, warm eggs

We have only just started bartering with the people who sleep within 30m of us, but I am going to try to do it a bit more.