Sowing seeds with a toddler: Proper propagators

With the growing space that I used to use pre-baby occupied by a busy toddler who has more personal belongings than many Royals, I’ve been severely limited in how many seeds I can sow from scratch. I did have a very small greenhouse but walls of glass and busy bouncing boys didn’t really seem to mix in small gardens. So I’ve had to be creative. I sowed my edible flower seeds into tiny pots encased in postage cases which worked quite well but for the few plants I won’t be buying as plugs this year, I did have a single “proper” propagator. In an attempt to interest GarlicBoy in each project (at two years old his attention span swings between fifteen and forty minutes and so I wanted to attract his attention), I’ve started setting out a little table with all of the tools we’ll be using and the little set of steps with a grab-rail that we keep in the kitchen so that he can cook with us. 

This has the twin benefits of ensuring that he can immediately see what we’ll be using and that we can start straight away rather than spending his precious attention span wandering about looking for the things that we need. I wanted him to help me sow the seeds, so I hydrated some compost and he placed the seeds. An initial foray into seed sowing had the packet of French Marigold seeds (the mysterious “tomato-grower’s friend”) sprinkled liberally all over me, the table, and a passing cat, so I started holding the seeds myself and letting him take small amounts from my palm. 
He didn’t appear to see the point of the tiny seeds, but he really enjoyed poking the squash (crown prince) and pumpkin (hundredweight) seeds right down into the root holes. It was a bit challenging to explain that they only needed to be lightly pushed down and then covered with soil (which shouldn’t be compressed) but he did seem to enjoy it once he got the hang of it. We talked about putting the seeds to bed for a nap so that they can wake up when they’ve grown and he said “night night” to them as he covered them up. The underfloor heating and the prime position next to our garden doors in direct sunlight have done wonders and just a couple of days later,  the Marigolds are charging up out of the soil, eager to sacrifice themselves to the white fly for my future tomato plants. Hurrah for seedlings, once they’re a bit bigger they’ll be liberally distributed in the tomato bed and hanging basket as a companion plant.  

Just a couple of days later, spring (and the seedlings)  has sprung!

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

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