It was one of those four seasons days today. It’s quite a common phenomenon in the Orkney Islands: rain, hail, snow, bright sunshine and blue skies, and high winds all in one day! So, we opted to have an indoorsy kind of day. Matt had managed to get hold of a bag of compost (which has been difficult, with the van out of action), so it seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up with some planting.

Wren helped me to re-pot all of our sea-lavender and tomatoes, which were absolutely desperate for more room. She thoroughly enjoyed being up to her elbows in compost, filling all of the pots for me.

“Look how happy the baby plants are!” she said, with a big grin on her face.

I am so grateful to have our little growing room, so that whatever the weather throws at us, we can carry on with our plans for this years planting.

Not that we haven’t had any set backs. I have pretty much lost all of the broad beans and radishes, that were doing so well. They had been planted out into the garden and I covered them with fleece ready for this week’s cold snap, but it was no match for 60mph winds coupled with heavy snow.

Lesson learned, much more protection needed for early plants!

We’re not put off easily, so my 11, 14 and 16yr olds, helped to start a lot more seeds today. We have a few trays of salad leaves already doing well, but seven people can go through salad pretty quickly, so we started two kinds of Pak Choi and some mixed leaves as well.

Squash and pumpkins are new for us this year. My kids were very keen to grow pumpkins and I love squash, so fingers crossed they will turn out well. I have no idea where they’re actually going to go, once they are big enough to be planted out! One day, I might be a wonderfully organised gardener, but for now, I just get it started and figure it out later on.

We also started a lot of nasturtiums. I have grown nasturtiums in all of our gardens. They’re great plants – you can eat the flowers, leaves and seed pods. They grow anywhere, the slugs and snails leave them alone and you can use them in salads, soup, pesto and lots more. Plus, they add plenty of colour. 

This year, we’ve got several varieties and I shall be planting them everywhere that I have a space. 

I’m glad that my kids are getting the chance to get involved with growing our food. I wasn’t interested in gardening when I was a child. In fact, I wasn’t outdoorsy at all. Which is funny, given that I now spend every opportunity outdoors, grow our veggies and gather and process plants for my basketry.

So, how did I get here? How did a little girl who didn’t like gardening because of the creepy crawlies and much preferred to be indoors making something or reading a book, grow into a nature loving, plant mad woman?

It occurred to me the other day, that perhaps the answer is in the books that I loved as a child.


I have been reading lots of my favourites, with our two youngest girls. The Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem, The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker and The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, were all books that I loved and have enjoyed reading to all of my children.

In Brambly Hedge, the mice are always gathering fruits, nuts and plants for the store stump and in the High Hills, the story begins in the weavers workshop, where the shelves are filled with plants for natural dyes.

Wren and I had great fun this week, going through the Flower Fairy Alphabet and seeing how many of the flowers grow in our garden and along our road. We could remember picking nearly all of them, for our posies last year.

I still find the Little House books, just as interesting as I did all those years ago. The descriptions of making everything from straw hats to entire houses, with the materials they had to hand and a few simple tools, are a delight to read.

So perhaps, I haven’t changed so very much, after all. Perhaps, those seeds sown long ago in a little girls mind, just took a little longer to germinate, grow and blossom. 


Our children’s bookcases are full of books about plants and the natural world. We spend a lot of time making things together with, whatever we have available. We walk for hours in wide open spaces, looking for creatures and plants, scrambling over rocks and soaking up all of the glorious nature that surrounds us. We plant our food together and watch our flowers grow.

I am so glad to share this with them, to start these little seeds in their minds. I can only think that it will bring them happiness, in the future.