Continuing our exploration of life in modern Pagan families, the Children & Families Team write about introducing and cultivating their outdoor spaces, not matter how small, with their children aged 3 years and up
I’m very fortunate to have an allotment as we don’t have a garden, and my 3-year-old loves going ‘dig dig’ there.
They help me dig over the beds. They have their own little set of gardening tools to do the job. Much of their digging involves looking for worms and other creepy crawlies, and removing any stones they find, they enjoy stacking all these into towers. The other day they helped plant the seeds in the greenhouse, the bigger seeds that they could manage, one seed into each little square and push it down. They enjoyed counting them into the pots too. Then we got the watering cans out to water the seeds in, they have a little one shaped as an elephant, I have a dinosaur one haha.
Watering the seeds each time we go down is a little job they can do, as well as looking out for the first shoots to appear! Other jobs they help with include tidying the plot, carrying things to their correct places, and weeding, though we do have to mind they don’t get overenthusiastic and pull up plants we want too.
As the season moves on, they can help generally watering the plot with their little elephant, and watching how the plants are growing, learning signs the plant is ready. Of course, they eat all the berries before we get chance to.
It is a fantastic way to experience the changing seasons, discover wildlife and learn where our food comes from. Plus, patience, waiting for it to ripen to eat.
I’m still learning how to grow veg myself and it’s lovely that they can join in. We have a little altar at the allotment where we put the first harvest to give thanks and use a focal point for the turning seasons.
Manager, Children & Families Team
I used to have an allotment where I would grow a multitude of vegetables and fruit, but I had to give it up when I moved out of the area. I miss it, it was my sanctuary.
I haven’t been in my new house that long, so I haven’t really established the garden properly yet but its large, so I have huge scope and I have planted two fruit trees and have a variety of herbs in pots for magical, culinary and medicinal use. Even if you don’t have a garden herbs are great to grow on a balcony or windowsill.
One thing I do grow every year regardless of what garden I have are runner beans. I grew them in a pot for the first time last year and as usual they were the Scarlet Emperor variety. I always grow the ones with the red flowers as they remind me of my dad who sadly passed away a few years ago.
Growing veg for me isn’t just about feeding my family, it’s about connecting with the land, the elements, the ancestors and with people. My father and I were never great conversationalists, but we could talk a good onion and it brought us closer together. Growing veg continues to bring me closer to people as my children like to help me and in turn it helps them feel closer to the land and gives them an appreciation of where food comes from.
Mid-West & Wales Liaison, Children & Families Team
Growing vegetables in my north facing city garden has always been a challenge, to say the least. The soil quality isn’t great, despite all my efforts to improve it and there’s a lot of shade. But every year I try, and every year have some success at least. Salad leaves are a favourite, in fact the rocket has self-seeded and brings a steady supply. Rainbow chard has been another success, grown in pots, always a good strategy for avoiding the poor soil issue. Leafy crops like rocket and chard just seem to keep going, so that you can pick a few leaves at a time for weeks on end.
We tend to start out seeds indoors, often in old fruit punnets or anything that’s easy to make holes in the bottom. Keeping the young, vulnerable plants indoors also lowers the risk of them being eating by the ever-present pigeons and squirrels, both of whom seem to find seedlings especially tasty. Keeping plants indoors is sometimes easiest too and last summer we successfully harvested both peppers and tomatoes from plants grown on a wide, sunny kitchen windowsill. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a few herbs in pots along the windowsill too!
London District Liaison, Children & Families Team
I love growing things, and love watching my kids get excited about it too. I’m into trying to connect to the Earth in a rather literal way – shoving my hands and feet into the soil and seeing what happens! In that experimental vein, we like to save seeds from a range of fruits and plant them, with varying levels of success. We’ve had some awesome chilli peppers on the windowsill, but sadly our tomatoes haven’t fared too well so far.
We’ve got pineapple seeds and watermelon to try soon. I tried watermelon some years ago and they definitely need a greenhouse… if my spouse is reading this, it’s my birthday soon! Last year I think we neglected the garden somewhat due to life becoming topsy turvy during lockdowns. This year I’ve collected together all our seed packets and we’re going to go through and see what everyone likes, and try and grow something that we all want to eat. After all, what better way is there to get kids enthused about veggies than knowing they helped create the very ones on their plate?
Secretary, Children & Families Team
When my kids were little, planting for our family was in pots and a couple of small beds in our back garden. We have tried different fruit trees and bushes and vegetables; none of which became annual favourites and we have not got to the point that we have a regular planting routine.
Our original apple tree was planted by our daughter from a pip from an apple she ate but did not get to grow as our dog thought it was the perfect stick and brought it in the house. The replacement tree is about 8 years old now but is still a twig, pot-bound and not producing fruit, I feel this pretty much sums up my green fingers!
Apart from our herbs, which I am proud to say thrive and are used in cooking, magic and teas. We have a wide selection of herbs as we have a wild bed at the bottom of the garden where we regularly throw random seeds to see what takes.
In our small bed in the front garden, we now have annual flowers to keep us aware of the changing seasons. I do get a little excited to be able to mark the year with snowdrops, daffodils, tulips, apples and all the rest my garden has to offer.
Deputy Manager, Children & Families Team