Fun in the ‘garden’ with our Little Pals gardening set – #CountryKids

Before I knew I was pregnant with Andrew, we were looking to buy a flat in Cambridge. The week after we paid a reserve deposit on a newly built flat in a great location within walking distance from the city centre (about 30 minutes), a pregnancy test showed up positive. I’m not sure knowing this earlier would have affected our decision – with property prices being so high around here we wouldn’t have afforded anywhere bigger within the city – but one thing I was slightly concerned about was that we had no garden of our own for a small child to have fun in. But there is a communal garden, which we do use quite a lot to play in, and there are a few local parks only a short walk away, and we have a balcony, which isn’t a bad size. It’s on this balcony that we’ve had fun with gardening recently – and I like to think that our situation is proof that you don’t need a big garden to have gardening fun with a toddler!

Andrew and Granny planting seeds
Andrew and Granny planting seeds

Over the nearly 3 years that we’ve been here, we’ve managed to grow more and more food on our balcony. It first started off with a couple of tomato plants; this year we have four tomato plants in big (faded) red planter bags, several runner bean plants (some in a planter bag and some in a tub hanging over the balcony rail), strawberries, various herbs, radishes, onions, carrots and lettuces (all in tubs hanging over the balcony rail). We also have some sunflowers, but they’ve had to come in as a slug ate one of them. I have to say that it’s really Granny who’s taken the lead on this, bringing seeds and plants as she’s sorted out some for her own garden. I’m not naturally the most green fingered person, but Tom enjoys watering and tending to plants, and now he has a helper in the form of Andrew!

Andrew (and Daddy) doing some watering
Andrew (and Daddy) doing some watering

So when I heard about the BritMums Kids Grow Wild challenge, through which we could grab ourselves a Little Pals gardening set, I knew this would be perfect for Andrew who is keen to help with the gardening. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time for Granny’s visit when she and Andrew did the actual planting into tubs of the seeds and plants that she had prepared for us, but Andrew has still has lots of fun watering every day with his very own watering can, and putting on the gloves as he inspects how the plants are doing (rather heavy handedly at times!)

Gloves on, inside and out!
Gloves on, inside and out!

The set comprises a bag with the perfect sized carry handles for little hands, a proper metal watering can, trowel and garden fork, a small pair of gardening gloves and some seeds. Andrew is very impressed, and often plays with the bag and gloves even when not gardening! We’ve left the trowel and fork outside in the high tubs out of his reach, as he’s only allowed to use them with our supervision – they are really very sturdy, and knowing him he’s probably do some serious damage if left to his own devices.

The Little Pals gardening set
The Little Pals gardening set

When Granny came with all her stuff, Andrew was very interested in helping her plant seeds and transfer plants to our tubs. I’m glad that he’s learning from an early age about how plants start off from seeds and grow. He didn’t quite get it at first that you have to wait and watch as they grow slowly – he expected them to grow immediately like on the Waybuloo app on Grandad’s iPad! But now he’s slowly realising, I think, that they are gradually growing and we have to wait before we can eat things from them. He keeps saying that he wants a bean when they are ready. Every evening when Daddy comes in from work, they go out on the balcony together and water the plants, each with their own watering can. Next year we can use the seeds that came in the Little Pals set, or maybe we can squeeze another tub onto the balcony this year, we’ll see!

Our tubs on the balcony
Our tubs on the balcony

How big is your garden? Hopefully this post will inspire anyone who thinks that their garden (or equivalent!) is too small to do much with – it is possible to have gardening fun, especially if you’re 2 years old! I’ll leave you with a video of us (well actually me: Andrew got camera shy) singing ‘I dig my garden’ – one of Andrew’s favourite songs to sing at the moment (when he doesn’t think anyone is listening/filming); he also recounts how he dug with Granny and Grandad, and shows his enthusiasm for his little fork 🙂

This post is an entry for the BritMums #KidsGrowWild Challenge – more details at Moneysupermarket.com 

The Little Pals set was sent to us free of charge. All views expressed are honest and our own based on our experience of using the set.

I’m also linking up to #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Milk-making flapjacks

As I was flicking through our Cook with Kids book by Rob Kirby, I came across a recipe for ‘super fit flapjacks’. Instead of just being oats, butter, sugar and syrup, these included various dried fruits and seeds. I didn’t actually have many of the fruit and seeds in the recipe, but it inspired me to make some flapjacks with some of the unusual dried fruit – golden berries and cranberries mix – that I bought recently because it was on offer in the supermarket and the seeds that I had in the cupboard – sesame and caraway.

In a previous baking blog post, I wrote about the fact that caraway seeds are supposed to be a galactagogue – something that stimulates breast-milk production. Oats are also supposed to be a galactagogue, hence the name for the flapjacks that I ended up creating. As well as being good for milk making purposes, flapjacks are in general a good source of energy, particularly with the dried fruit and seeds in, and energy is something I really need at the moment. I find that I get peckish in the night with all the feeding Joel does, so these are great to nibble on in the early hours. The high seed content makes these like a cross between sesame snaps (though softer) and traditional oaty flapjacks. 

Even if you’re not trying to induce or increase lactation, these flapjacks are a delicious treat and will keep you going if you’re in need of energy for another reason. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to have a go. It’s very easy and it took Andrew and me about 10 minutes to make plus cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 125g brown sugar
  • 90g margarine
  • 90g honey
  • 175g oats
  • 100g dried friut (I used 60g sultanas, 40g mixed cranberries and golden berries)
  • 100g seeds (I used 60g sesame seeds, 40g caraway seeds)

Method

  1. Start by lining a square or rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the oats, fruit and seeds in a big bowl, and stir until well mixed.
  3. Melt the sugar, margarine and honey in a bowl in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water on the hob.
  4. Add the melted ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven at 160ºC (fan) for about 10-15 mins until golden on top.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before cutting into squares, as the flapjack needs to harden as it cools.
  7. Store in an airtight container (next to your bed if you’re me!)