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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias 
Growing up, the best place in the world to be was our garden. Running up and down the path through our vegetable patches, wearing Summer sandals without socks and with red ribbons twisted around my ringleted pigtails, I wove in and out of the sweet peas and beanstalks, as I raced my Granny’s sheltie collie dog.  With a handkerchief knotted up on my head to keep the sun at bay, my childhood was completely carefree.
Thanks to my parents, I don’t remember vegetables ever having packets or sell by dates, or being so expensive, but I do remember being told that pea pod shells are not the best part of the plant after eating quite a few. I like to think that I might have had a hand in the invention of mange tout.
Earlier this month I decided that I wasn’t making personal resolutions, that I was going to concentrate on just being me – being enough. As a family however, we have goals – and one of them is to bring our grocery bill down. Over half of our food budget each week goes on fruit and vegetables – and whereas I can’t grow my own bananas, I can grow my own cucumbers, peas, sweetcorn and strawberries – and it’s so much more fun to grow a handful of homegrown, sweet and juicy berries and rush into the garden every morning to see if any of them have turned red enough to eat, than to hand over £3.50 a time for a punnet of tasteless red fruit flown in to our supermarket shelves from miles away.

We’ve grown our own food on and off before – but last year we completely missed the boat and being so pregnant didn’t make for a very able farmer – so this year we’re ready. The grow our own revolution is happening in our house [and garden].

It’s only January and there isn’t a great deal of sowing to do yet, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t preparation ahead though.

 After a trip to our nearest local Hilliers garden centre [we have two local to us, we’re spoiled here], we loaded up with enough seeds, tools – including mini trowels and teeny propagators – trellis and potting compost to get our garden projects underway. Our oak half barrels are ready for filling [and emptying, and refilling] with glorious mud and bean canes, and the rest of our garden needs some serious TLC.

It was simple to decide what to grow this year. – pretty much anything that the boys love.  Sweetcorn, peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and peppers. This year we’re also building our very own, most sincere pumpkin patch in honour of our late furkids, Casanova and Excalibur. We grew pumpkins a few years ago when Jensen Indiana was just a year old and he loved them, although they took over far too much of the garden where Cass and Xcally needed to roam.

The seeds we’re using are from the huge pumpkin that Baby Hero sat in this past Hallowe’en, that we dried in readiness. It will be a garden of memories, with a little white fence, built on the muddy hill where the boys [huskies] loved to bask in the sunshine.

We’re also adding some nature stations to our garden – but not just because we love bugs, although our mini beast hunts will be more exciting [read: terrifying] because of them! We unearthed [ha ha] a little known secret that ladybirds love to live near pea plants. They adore them. We found out this quite by accident two years ago, visiting the farm near our home and finding thousands of them, everywhere we looked in the pea fields. It was like a beautiful plague, if there’s such a thing.  Shamefully we kidnapped a few spotted friends for our hibiscus which was in need of rescuing, but don’t tell anyone.

So, this is the plan. We plant the peas and the tomatoes near to each other. We place the ladybird hotel on the tree nearest the peas – and hey, presto, we have pest control for the tomatoes in the form of tiny, red, dotted soldiers. The little ladybugs will hoover up the aphids and keep our juicy tomatoes safe.

This morning, supplies at the ready, we bundled up and headed out into the Winter sunshine.

After a few minutes, we found a wriggly friend.  I felt bad for him as soon as I saw him squirming by my foot.  Unlike the fate of other worms I’ve known, who have been carried around non stop for an hour or more, they decided to give him a cosy home in their propagator for a while and let him play with their new compost.

Anyhow, we have more plans, too! Every year the huge [indestructible] buddleia [the one I hacked down in my underwear last Summer just after giving birth] draws precious butterflies to our garden, but we need more honeybee help this year with pollenating our food and so we’re planting a wildflower garden too, by freely scattering wildflower seeds wherever we see open soil. Think Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, with big bags of flower seed.

What’s fantastic about growing your own food is that it’s so much fun for the whole family – everyone can get involved. Let’s face it – there’s mud, water, bugs, snails, things to eat [please, not the snails] – it’s boy paradise. They’re truly so much more likely to eat the vegetables that they’ve grown – and in their raw state, too.  I love that there are no unknown chemicals being sprayed on or pumped into their food, our waste is cut down because we only pick what we need, and most importantly, my boys really understand where their food comes from, and what it takes to provide for themselves.

We’ve done it before, we can do it again. Bigger, better – and make a real difference to our household budget. This year we’re resolved to make it work. This is our year – grab your wellies and join us!

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  1. Oh my your eldest is looking so so grown up now. What joy filled SUN filled fabulous photos. I have missed you SO SO SO much on Instagram it is like food for the soul to see your photography once again, and get a peek into your lives.

    I did this shop too and really enjoyed it. Hope I get to follow through on my main resolution as you have here. So sorry to hear about the huskies. I had no idea. Lots of love.

    Take care, Liska xxx

  2. I would love to grow some of our own fruit and veg; we also spend a small fortune on it and after meat it is our biggest expense on the food shop. Although actually it might be the same thinking about it. Sadly we don't have any outside space. Well, we do, but just a little balcony. Good luck with it all and you have some beautiful photos! x

  3. My kids and I love to get into the garden. I had a beautiful flower bed last year that had pumpkins weaved in because my daughter thought it would be the perfect addition.

  4. What lovely photos! It is a great idea to get out in the garden and grow your own. You are right about the tasteless supermarket varieties of fruit and veg. Home grown is much better and much more fun. I didn't know about the ladybirds and peas, I have learned something today 🙂

  5. Your kids are so darling! I absolutely love the photos. My kids love helping garden and getting dirty in the dirt. I haven't done a garden in a few years now which is terrible of me, but we did plant seeds last summer and of course I FORGOT to water them and it didn't end well. We are hoping to move this summer so hopefully find a place with a lovely garden waiting to be tended to by my littles. They love it. It's so much fun. I miss growing veggies and flowers!

  6. Best of luck with your plans! I wish I had the land/climate to grow my own. Alas, our harsh sea coastal garden isn't agreeable to my wanting to grow my own – thankfully our veg box providers (with their polytunnels!) do that job for me. I know what you mean though, about food miles and an appreciation of where food comes from.

  7. This is brilliant and so inspiring. I really want to grow more, I did try one year and the snails ate everything….I really must try again though – maybe this year!

  8. I adore your photos, you have captured the sunshine so beautifully. I really love the idea of growing your own vegetables, a great way to build memories for children and help them learn where things come from.

  9. So… starting a garden with fresh veggies and fruit is on my growing bucket list. We do have a few veggies growing right now but not as many as I would like to have. I would love to reach a point where we have the kids go into the back and pick the veggies for our meals!

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