Spurred on by my obsession with all things River Cottage-related, I have decided to, with the full support of Handy Husband, embark upon an experiment to see just how eco-friendly and self-sufficient my family and I can become whilst living in a modern, urban environment. Phase 1 of this quest (which I’ve dubbed “The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment”) is all about home-grown produce.
I was given a plant (somewhat embarrassingly, I don’t even know what it is!) on the occasion of my blessingway/baby shower and somehow my husband and I have been able to keep it alive. I say “somehow” as historically we have not been very lucky in the growing plants indoors department and for quite some time have been lamenting our anti-green thumbs. So, feeling rather proud of ourselves and encouraged by this modest effort, we are now embarking upon a project to grow our own vegetables and herbs. This, given our poor track record plus the fact that we live in a city apartment and a country where the weather is less than kind for half the year, is no mean feat. But we see it as an opportunity to educate ourselves, challenge our notions of what we are capable of producing given the parameters afforded us and potentially a way of ensuring we have the freshest, loveliest organic produce right here at home when we want it.
A few weeks ago we happened to visit charming Överjärva Gård (described as “a countryside oasis in the middle of town”) right when they happened to be running a planting school for children. At 2 years of age, L was probably the youngest child to sit at the table in the greenhouse, but he had fun nonetheless and is still talking about the experience. Under the instruction of a very helpful greenhouse assistant, I helped L make containers for his plants using newspaper strips, simply yet cleverly folded (a great recycling activity!). He filled his recycled newspaper containers with soil and then pressed in our chosen seeds (pumpkins and peas) before giving them some water. Less than a week later, shoots started to emerge, and now the peas and pumpkins are positively thriving! Of course this is all very exciting to L (and his parents!). It’s wonderful to think that our 2 year-old has already started to contribute to our kitchen garden, learn a little about planting and grow his own produce!
Farm visits will be one of the things I’ll focus on as part of The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, as I am keen to find ways to expose my children to a little “country life” whilst we remain living in the city and, as mentioned in previous posts, it is important to me that my little ones learn about the origins of food, thereby gaining a greater respect for produce, the environment and their own health and wellbeing. I am really excited about some of the day trips and excursions we have done/planned and will be sure to post about them as time permits.
My husband has been busy online, researching various methods/systems for growing plants indoors. Our “grow light” arrived recently and we have a mini greenhouse and self-watering pots on our windowsill. We have also invested in an AeroGarden, a “foolproof, dirt-free indoor garden” in which we have planted a variety of herbs. Not content to stop there, my husband has also created his own contraption that he calls an “off-grid hydroponic greenhouse” (photos and more detailed descriptions will follow in the near future).
We harvested our first humble “crop” of homegrown organic lettuce the other day and look forward to the emergence of our first tomatoes soon (hopefully!). One thing’s for sure, food definitely tastes better and you relish it all the more when it is homegrown!
Please do stay tuned for a guest post by my lovely Handy Husband in which he’ll discuss our urban gardening venture in greater detail. This series of posts may be entitled The Urban Eco-Mama Experiment, but it’s a family affair after all ;)!