Tuesday 14 July 2009


Well the weather might be rubbish again but our little allotment is bringing a huge amount of colour and sunshine into our house in the form of baskets and baskets of deliciousness.
Now I must own up and confess that I can't really take credit for all these lovely crops, whoever had the plot before us planted row upon row of raspberry canes which are now a sort of raspberry jungle, although an incredibly pretty and tasty jungle at that. And we can't move for strawberries either, they just keep coming! The freezer is already full to the gunnels with frozen berries so looks like we'll be handing some around the relatives and neighbours too.
These though really are all my own work - radishes, broccoli and broad beans. Never grown broad beans before but they're ridiculously easy and now are a firm favourite in our house, even with my adorable but very cautious no.1 son who to be honest baulks at pretty much anything that isn't a boiled egg & toast.
This is truly the biggest miracle of our allotment because this summer B has troughed his way through the soft fruit, broad beans are declared yummy when yanked straight off the plant as soon as we reach our plot and apparently he just can't wait to try our courgettes and the giant pumpkin!

Phew - the relief is immense let me tell you. Being the only person in our house who really is addicted to food is a bit weird. Woody is truly a food is fuel sort of chap and despite best efforts our little chaps haven't yet fallen in love with grub to be honest.

Food has definitely been my biggest challenge as a mum, which having breastfed both our boys past a year old, is a hard thing to accept. When I was pregnant I watched every morsel that went into my mouth and while I was feeding to give them a great start in life - only to see my eldest become a borderline food refuser from 2! Horrid but hopefully nearly conquered
(free roses planted on our allotment long before us)
Things are definitely getting better and we manage a pretty good variety of things over the week. There's not a lot of junk (unless you count fish fingers and spaghetti hoops!) and I'm lucky that they do seem to enjoy fruit, veg and especially eggs but we struggle to get more than minced beef (spag bol, chilli, shepherd's pie - are there any more versions?!) and the odd bit of tuna past them.

I hate the idea of mealtimes becoming traumatic so there's a definite softly, softly catchy monkey policy at work. A combination of things got us into this situation, lots of scary gagging when we weaned the boys that made me a bit over cautious with the pureeing, having to go back to work part time and with a 1 1/2 hour journey home I often wasn't back for tea, plus some bad experiences of mealtimes on Woody's part in days gone by.
Together though we've made loads of effort and employed coaxing and a bit of bribery and now most evenings we all eat together, more or less eating the same thing and mealtimes are usually the fun, happy times I remember from my childhood.
I want our kitchen table to be the real heart of our home and we're getting there. I read an article in The Times today about how to parent teenagers (a phase I'm already dreading) and a lot of the tips centred on sharing meals and conversation at tea time. Will they really be eating me out of house and home one day? We'll see. Better make sure we keep it stocked up with broad beans I think!


...Nina Nixon... said...

What a lovely hoard you have from your allotment and all the reds and greens!

My son went off food at the age of 2 and only lived on sausages and pizza by the time he got to five we would reward him with 5p for everything he would try and another 5p everytime if he would eat it again or at least three different times (in different meals) he now will eat anything - no really he does and now he's nine he 'is' starting to eat us out of house and home. He seems to have hollow legs!!

Boys - they all have there phases and ways of pushing the boundries - roll on the grunting years.

take care,

Nina x

Lalabibaby @ Dreaming of The Simple Life said...

It must be lovely to see all your hard work paying off in the form of those lovely fruits and veg. My dad had an allotment years ago ... wouldn't mind but up till then the only veg he ever ate was processed peas! The difference in taste from supermarket pap is amazing .... I must pull my finger out and really get to grips with growing my own next year ....

MelMel said...

I don't think there is a huge problem about the food thing, they are eating and enjoying fruit and veg....thats great and they are eating pasta and some fish...I think you have done a fantastic job....I used to work in a "food Clinic" for children and parents and boy did I see some terrible meal time struggles.....relax and enjoy, your doing so much right, its just as it should be as long as they are cheerful and happy thats the main thing...having your own grow space is a fab way to let children partake in the fun of food!


julia said...

Hard as it is, try to relax and be assured that by the time they're adults all your hard work will have paid off. We had a very tricky stage when Jack was about 2, he would scream at every meal I put down in front of him, I coped by ignoring him (through gritted teeth) and he came through in the end. Food should be fun! I think you've played it exactly the right way and don't blame yourself, children are contrary little souls. Love the allotment pics, sadly with next available plot here likely to be when I'm old and rickety I'll have to make do with looking at others produce!
Julia xx

Justine said...

Congrats on your allotment treasure! Very jealous of your berry baskets! My hubby has an allotment and so far we've enjoyed courgettes, broad beans, potatoes and a couple of carrots, plus lettuce and a cucumber from the pots on the patio. It's really lovely, isn't it, to eat the fruits of your labour?

alice c said...

Don't worry about the teenage years - they are the best of all! I know all about food shy children as my son lived on cucumber and milk for a significant period of his life. From my own experience I think that a happy atmosphere at meals is much, much more important than persuading children with small appetites to 'eat up'.

Pipany said...

Teenage years will be fine Steph and it sounds as though you ahve got the food thing licked. It's not the easiest 'job' in the world sometimes is it? So excited for you about the allotment. It is the best way of getting kids involved in food I think. Ours is getting seriously interesting now (yet I keep seeing the possibilities fornext year!) xx

Helen said...

Best of luck with the teenagers!! All your produce looks wonderful.We have just built a fruit cage this year, and are waiting for our first crop up her in co durham! we are a bit behind you!

Karen said...

Hi Steph, I think you have just the right approach to your lovely boys. Most children seem to enjoy being part of the process of producing the food and planting veg and then picking it and even helping to prepare meals. They generally seem to eat better when they have some input even if its only choosing the bread from the bakers shelf. As you love food they will pick up on your pleasure as they grow a little older. There is no need to dread teenage years; my oldest son is just 15, can be grumpy but great company, loves to eat and cook with me and can't wait to see the new Harry Potter this evening! Its a lovely stage in their lives if you keep the communication going.Karenx

claire said...

Hi Steph
You rteally aren't alone in your feeding anxiety - as you know I too have breastfed all my boys and I think the 'need to feed' is pre programmed by nature!!!
However - *look away if you don't want to be disheartened lol*- my 14 year old is still a hideous eater - picky doesn't come close to describing it!! I am back at the ignoring stage after recent hysterics and threats of doctors :( He was brilliant until he was about 4). Out of 4 boys numbers 1 and 3 are terrible picky eaters and numbers 2 and 4 are brilliant!!!
Apart from my teenagers faddy eating habits he really is a lovely boy, teenagers are easier than willful toddlers for sure!!
I think if you carry on with your lovely attitude towards rearing your sons you will have nothing at all to worry about x

The Curious Cat said...

Fussy kids - I have that joy still to come...but good to get tips ahead! I like the 5p one if all else fails! Your bounty looks amazing - I need to get me a garden! Was watching a doc last night on tele about where all our food came from and you just can't trust the supermarkets these days it would appear...

Hen said...

Hi Steph,
Your produce looks fab, well done. How about a bit of jamming for all those berries. We've had a good raspberry crop but are hopeless with strawberries so I wish I was your neighbour (I'd give you some jam, of course)!
The food thing, ah you have my sympathies. Is there a parent out there who doesn't have horrific tales of children and food. Harry used to be v hard work, with a v narrow diet including as much sugary stuff as possible. He's now a good eater, has his moments of course, but has a good balanced diet. He also struggles with meaty/chewy things and loves mince too, meatballs being his favourite (there's another mince-y meal for you)! As a devoted foodie myself, I find it hard to understand when others aren't! I admire your patient approach, I'm sure it'll pay off and you will know you have done your best. Sometimes, we just can't change our children!
Hen x

Suzy's Vintage Attic said...

What a wonderful selection of fresh produce, how satisfying to grow your own. Our back garden is still being worked (removing a giant patio area from the garden to make way for a lawn, summer house, swings AND a vegetable plot. I really look forward to growing our own fresh vegetables. We have 2 apples trees and some elderflowers, that's it so far. As I drink green vegetable juice once a day and the cost of buying organic cucumbers, courgettes etc.is quite high.
Good luck with eating.. My daughter used to be so easy and ate everything, in the past year she keeps going for sweet foods. When I was a child I ate what was put in front of me. This generation is different they are used to choice and expect that from their food too. Eating habits have changed with families eating in front of TV or parents eating after the children I very agree with you, I feel that eating all together as a family is so important, I too see the kitchen table as being at the centre of the family. With your patience and perseverence things will improve.
Take care
Isabelle x

Bertie Meadows said...

Hello Steph, you really are giving your boys the best start in life, with all your delicious home grown produce. On a recent trip to London, I saw a mother feeding her 6mth old a Mcdonalds, it just broke my heart. I think the kitchen table is the heart of the home too, and have tried to create that for my little brood.
Take care
Bertie x

Rubyred said...

Well done with your produce, it all looks gorgeous! We have a freezer full of berries from the garden, I'm thinking Pavlovas and cheesecakes,now they are not very healthy!Sounds like your boys are being given a really healthy diet, I think being relaxed about it and eating as a family is the key! You're doing a great job!
Rachel x

prettyshabby said...

hi Steph..fantastic allotment goodies, well done! As for the food thing, I was quite lucky with my two, I used to do them really unusual lunch boxes for playschool which the teachers always looked forward to opening,Harry picked up on the healthy eating lark and now only drinks water,checks his 5 a day and has to know where everything comes from (he tells me off for buying too many goodies!)..The best tip I had when they were little was to put grated carrots into everything,all the hot dinners had vegetables tucked in or disguised as well as other veg on the side...and dont worry about the teenage thing..it passes quickly but they do seem to eat tons when they get to high school!!

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Bumper summer veg. harvest! It all looks really really tasty. We are also broad bean fanatics along with peas, brocoli and courgettes, boy are we long on courgettes at the moment! Never mind, it is so satisfying knowing that you grew it from seed and I love to share the bounty with my friends and bounty.
My sister in Law has 4 teenagers at home, aaahhh! Oh my pie, they are like locusts, especially the boys. We sit in the kitchen over a cuppa and predict how many pieces of toast/packets of biscuits will be consumed by 4pm after school!
Have a great weekend, Sarah x

Bobo Bun said...

Funny how each stage is a struggle and a worry for us and then when it goes we quickly forget it and move on to the next concern. When ours would only eat fishfingers and peas we decided in the end to feed them that all the time to cut out the stress. Slowly slowly it changed and now at 7 and 8 they are ravenous, say delicious after a meal and really enjoy food. t happens eventually so don't worry Steph. My mum read somewhere that kids don't fully develop their taste buds until they are about six. Seems true for us.

Your allotment goodies look so tempting.

Pomona said...

I can promise you they will be eating you out of house and home eventually! My oldest son was the fussiest child ever, and the second not much better, but now they will eat anything and lots of it! Going away for a bit helps - staying with someone else where politeness means that you eat what you are given or go hungry!

Your veggie patch looks so beautifully neat - I feel it puts us to shame!

Pomona x

Philippine Real Estate said...

bounty fresh yummy veggies!