The Veggie Patch Diaries: May

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Help. We are under attack from dark forces. When I started drafting this blog post, things in the veggie patch were going so well. The wet winter had nourished our clay soil, while the late spring/ early summer sun was encouraging things to bloom. Seedlings sprouted. Fruit plumped. Flowers blossomed. Peas climbed to the sky up the pyramid I’d lovingly constructed from coppiced hazel and string saved from vegetable boxes. But then the rain returned. And with the resurgence of the non-stop Thames Valley drizzle came the mollusc menace.

So far the snails have eaten fledgling French beans, courgettes, tomatoes and marigolds. They’ve taken a good chomp out of most of the leaves on the broad beans and sweetcorn. Even ornamental plants are not safe, it appears, as they have stripped the leaves on my brand new lupins and the phlox I bought back from my beloved Dungeness.

But what can we do? Being rather organically minded, a bit of a pacifist hippy plus concerned about cats, hedgehogs and small people that roam our garden, I am resistant to reaching for the pellets. Last year I tried copper tape, to no great effect. The Aussie has bravely offered to donate some of his beer stash to make some traps, though I’m not fond of the idea of drowning the poor slithery guys, however delicious a substance it may be in. Part of me wonders if I should just let them be? Is this not nature is action after all? Maybe I should just live and let live? Maybe I could negotiate with their shelled leader about them beating a hasty retreat to next door’s rather neglected patch of land and leaving my treasured veggie patch alone? All I know is that we are not going to get anywhere near my ‘Good Life’ dream with these fellas around.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with slugs and snails? I’d really love to hear them. Help me, you’re my only hope.

In the Ground:
Apples
Broad Beans
Beetroot
Courgettes
French Beans
Gooseberries
Peas
Plums
Raspberries
Redcurrants
Rhubarb
Salad Leaves (California Mix)
Salsify
Strawberries
Sweetcorn
Tomatoes

In The Growhouse:
Half eaten marigolds
More courgettes
Purple Sprouting Broccoli

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Messing about with paints

There are few things I enjoy more than painting. Not that I have much prowess and skill with paint or brush, just mainly I find it deeply satisfying. That, and it is a completely legitimate excuse for making a bit of a mess in the name of creativity. Recently I’ve been trying to get the Tiny Overlord involved in a bit of creative play, so here’s some stuff that he and I have been painting:

Little Stitch Blog: Hand Painted Onesies

Painted onesies: I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with children’s clothes at the moment. I don’t really want to dress my baby boy as if he is heading to the golf club, I want to dress him with fun, brightness and all the colours of the rainbow. Like a baby. But I find a lot of bright gender neutral clothes prohibitively expensive, for the amount of times a rapidly growing tiny human wears them. So I made my own, using Pebeo fabric paints on H&M Conscious Collection vests.

They are washing and wearing very well, especially given the fact the Tiny Overlord loves to paint his entire body with food several times a day. Bicycle loving friends will also note that the delusions about my son wearing the Rainbow Jersey have started already.

Little Stitch Blog: Baby-made Mother's Day Cards
Hand painted Mother’s Day cards: These were made by the little guy (with a little bit of artistic direction from me…) for his Grandmothers. He hand printed using simple poster paints in spring colours and I finished them using my favourite ink stamps. Both Nana and Grandma loved them. Though I may hold off revisiting poster paints with the Tiny Overlord until he is less inclined to eat them.

Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum

“Let’s take the Tiny Overlord to the butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum”, he said. “Baby? Museum? London? Butterflies?!”, I stuttered. “The Tiny Overlord will love it”, said the Aussie. “Hmm…” I sceptically replied.

But with that our little family of three (myself, the Aussie and the 7 month old Tiny Overlord) headed off on the train to London to go to the world renowned Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum, London

The beautiful Natural History Museum. The Sensational Butterflies exhibit is in the marquee on the lawn, however, we also had a sneaky peak at the diplodocus skeleton and the Earth Story while the little one snoozed in the sling.

Beautiful butterflies

The butterflies were beautiful and exotic. Not like anything I had ever seen in the UK before.

'owl' markings on the underside of butterfly wings

Though I was as equally fascinated by the stunning markings on the underside of their wings, coloured to help camouflage.

lemon tree

I was also rather taken by this lemon. I am easily pleased.

baby looking at butterflies

And what did the the Tiny Overlord think? Well, he was fascinated, genuinely and utterly fascinated – watching them land, take off and fly around the tent or just calmly observed them simply flutter their wings.

I’m not sure if this is a common occurrence in early motherhood, but I am sometimes hesitant to take the little guy to new and unusual places. Despite the fact that, if I am honest, I really don’t enjoy baby orientated events. Am I worried that he won’t enjoy it? Am I worried what other people might think if he cries? I couldn’t say for certain. But every time we do take a ‘brave’ step, we all have a wonderful time and I wonder why I do not step out of my comfort zone more often and find something that we all find stimulating and enjoyable?

It is really important to us to get the Tiny Overlord engaging with the outside world. I know it is very easy and ‘natural’ to want to keep our babies inside and safe. But even at such a young age he already seems to love nature and being outside. Seeing the world through his eyes is wonderful too, imagine what it must be like to see your first butterfly? Getting him outside I have little problem with, taking him to inside places I often need a little more convincing. However, Seeds and Stitches recently did a post about taking babies to art exhibitions. They also shared links to the fascinating Culture Babies in Manchester and the very interesting Kids in Museums initiative.

Buoyed by our weekend’s success, I am certainly going to try to think out of the [toy] box of places to take the tiny one. I just need to have a little more faith in all of us.