April 27, 2020

Home School at Cabbages & Roses

It is April 20th 2020. 

We are in week 5 of lockdown - the grandchildren were taken out of school a week before all schools in the UK closed.

We slid, dreamlike, into our own world, neither in panic nor dread, a sort of bewildered state of wake-walking. Instilling positivity into the children who already had an adult understanding of what was ravaging the world, was an easy task, thanks to the wonderful teachers at the tiny Swainswick School on the wooded slopes outside the city of Bath. 

They are fully conversant with singing God Save The Queen whilst washing their tiny hands, they take a very wide berth if we should come across a stranger on our daily walk outside the Brook Cottage compound. They know not to pat a strange dog, put their hands anywhere near their face nor open a parcel without immediately hand sanitising.

Home School - how charming, a dream come true, we can teach them everything we know......

It was at this stage that I wondered 'what do I know?'


Day 1 Setting up the School Room.

Living the dream:

 Theirs:  no school for the forseeable future,

Mine: sending them back to school wiser, kinder, well read and practically perfect in every way.

Day 2 Garden School.

The dream - wearing Cabbages & Roses Gardening smocks, keen and eager faces longing to
know how to grow food.

The reality, they planted some seeds then ran amok - uncontrollable with the watering can, fights over who has the biggest (or smallest) garden tool, who was going to plant the potatoes and who was going to cover them with soil.  Keeping the baby and puppy from running away and the former from falling into the raging torrent that is the brook for the second time this week.


Before the day disintegrating into chaos, we did actually plant quite a lot of seeds
with advice from this brilliant book, written by me, long long ago and available here Green Housekeeping



We planted lettuce seeds into empty egg cartons, and



broad beans into pots.


Luckily you can still purchase seeds via the internet, but do it quickly as it takes a while for them to arrive, I buy most of my seeds from Sarah Raven Seeds



This is what they look like now



We planted potatoes having chitted them first



We wanted to plant more seeds so we made these



Many of you asked what to plant when, you will find the answer in the book 



Whilst all of this was going on, the children's mother, Sophie made this.



A cut willow fence



Which continues to grow even though the branches were cut.
You can see some of the gardens Sophie designed here
and whilst we are on the subject of gardens (we seem to have drifted away from home school)
Many of you also asked how to deal with slugs.  
Here are some suggestions



Crushed washed and dried egg shells or



Holly leaves



Or if you want to protect delicious Hosta plants in pots, apply a thick layer of vaseline around the top of the pot



Not a slug hole in sight


We sowed many many seeds, Bobbie sowed Cosmos and Frankie Giant Pumpkins



We even took cuttings from a geranium plant, we were taught how to do it by the lovely Willow Crossley on her Instagram account
So this sums up our divine, drifting half life, somewhere between reality and dream, safe, sound, self contained and self isolating.


Home School? Well, they now know how to sow a bean and plant a potato, which is all I can teach them.


I do hope that with a windowsill a yard or a garden you can start growing your own food, and find the immense pleasure it can bring.


Stay safe and stay home.