Thursday, 3 March 2011

Pass the green finger

A short one from me tonight....I'm exhausted!

I began helping with teaching a class 18 months ago. Initially only standing on the side lines, grinning inanely and spluttering a lot really. You know the kind of helper, terribly enthusiastic but bright red and spluttery. Tonight I actually enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong I love talking about gardening and growing. But, the more I learn, the less I feel I know! Maybe that's a good thing as it keeps you engaged and fresh?
The book an oldie but a goodie - recently updated, there are quite a few I use but I find its better not to scare folk and keep it simple.

I'm finally finding my feet, beginning to enjoy the talking and sharing as much as the props (seeds,packets,books and handouts). I normally enjoy the practical teaching very much, but the classroom stuff - always makes me squirm. We are teaching veggie growing by plant family - makes more sense to me to talk about all those veggies which are related and like the same kind of treatment. OK,  explaining that celery and carrots are cousins takes a bit of getting your head around initially - but once you get into the swing of it makes alot of sense. Until you start talking about things like the solanaceae - explaining that peppers/chillis/etc and related to potatoes (honest injun) although they like different conditions, makes more than a few eyebrows go up, until they see the flowers of course. I love watching folk 'twig' the similarities and often get hooked at this point.

I find that I get very scared before embarkign on the good ship 'passing the green finger on'. But, not tonight. Maybe I've found the courage to enjoy passing a bit of a green finger on. OK, in my own small way it's only really more of a tiny greenish pinky finger for the moment. To gently nudge folk to be brave and have a go at growing.......and you're never too young/old/short or tall to start. I learnt due to my Grandfather and through a love he had of the garden - (that there down there is me at my head gardening job at the age of 5 - an early bloomer!!!), I've passed it on to my children and any poor soul which stands still long enough to listen!

I'm a lucky one, an enthusiastic gardener in my family, passed the green finger on to me.
Ok so there were a few raised eyebrows when I over enthused about how wonderful carrot foliage can be as an addition to a border or a container..... (tonight was roots and my colleague did fruits!). It's got pretty foliage, I just wanted to challenge folk to think a bit out of the veggie patch..... Vegetable plantings don't always need to be in straight rows in veggie patches - set them free I say! Or not, its entirely up to you.

I didn't know there were so many types, nor did I know the names of lots of them - I've learnt alot today too!

Hey, we all got excited about growing things by folk telling us how brilliant it was, didn't we? That's all I'm trying to achieve!! In my red, grinning, spluttery way.

A truly good evening, Im so glad we are only half way through our class!! At the weekend we start the outdoor stuff, much easier to hide the red face when its smeared with compost.


  1. Good for you - sounds like you're going well and that your class is starting to switch onto things. No wonder you're exhausted given the last few days. Give yourself the weekend off!

  2. Teaching is exhausting, never mind anything else! Well done!

  3. It sounds like you had fun in your class. I wonder how many students will remember your lecture at some point in the future and actually plant carrots. A botany professor at my former college says that she hears from students after they have graduated and is always pleasantly surprised that they have become even more passionate about plants than her.

  4. Duchess, our first practical class is on Saturday :) not really 'work' it will be fun......I'm also hoping for decent weather at the weekend to rebuild the hen run and get that other bed sorted -among other things! Thanks for popping over!

  5. Mag thank you, you are right. I find the oddest thingnis that you're sure you know about the subject then, boom! You read more about it and feel humbled!

  6. Born, thank you for popping over the fence to here. I'm sure you are right. I was enormously lucky to study in a botanic garden. At a retirement party for my main tutor I told him how much it had changed my life studying 'plantmanship' - wryly he smiled - 'it generally does' he told me. Oddly now, he guests regularly on a uk BBC tv show (Scottish one) - when I hear his voice booming out of the tv it does make me sit up straight and pay attention!
    I'm hoping someone not only tries carrots, but rather outrageously plants a few patches in their Borders too - wonderful foliage, shouldn't just be made to stand to attention in rows in the veggie garden!

  7. Dear Fay, I love this post ... such a delightful story. I am sure you are a wonderful teacher... It helps to be passionate about your subject, and you obviously are. I am so glad I found your blog (because you kindly visited mine). P x

  8. Hi Fay,
    Oh I think you are brave taking yourself out of your comfort zone to help at the class.If you teach like you write then your class will be hooked.
    I love the new picture at the top by the way.

  9. Fabulous Fay, they are so lucky to have your enthusiasm and knowledge. Glad you are starting to really enjoy yourself. I agree about carrots, beautiful plants and they suit random sowing. Just wish I could make my mind up as to whether I cover the roots bed with mesh to avoid the attentions of carrot root fly or reveal the beauty and rely on companion planting instead. Maybe a bit of both and compare results. How do you grow yours?

  10. Julie if only that were the case - I'm a dreadful bright red mumbler - which is odd as in real life I yap and yap about plants! Thanks for liking the new picture - real life in the garden!!

    Mrs Bok - thank you!

    Pamela I loved your blog!! I want to like teaching, I'm glad I'm finally finding a way that work for me - better when we are out - much better when covered in mud!!

  11. Janet - well - this year I'm doing a few different things. I'll explain
    Firstly I sowed them last year in a raised bed and didn't thin them - ended up with carrots all shapes and sizes but hardly any carrot root fly (CRF) damage. I planted chives beside them - which might have helped?

    We had a talk locally with a guru guy who explained how they do it here - alot of folk grow carrots in raised beds on stilts - seemingly the CRF can't fly above 18" - therefore alot of folk here grow them on a raised bed above that height and don't get any bother - seen it in a few gardens and wondered why on earth folk were growing carrots in boxes on tables. I find it a bit odd but might give it a go.

    The other thing I've had a bit of success with is sowing in containers - (deep fish boxes) in quite nice compost - broadcast sowed and left them to get on with it, I put all my coffee grains in this fish box too - which is supposed to deal with the smell and confuses the CRF - harvested them all at once at the back end and not had a bit of bother with the blighter CRF - I'm going to do that again. OK the carrots were all pretty good sizes but I didn't touch the foliage.

    I'm going to chuck a few in borders beside a few different herbs this year and see how we get on.

    One day, I'll figure it out - for now I'll keep on with my mad experimenting :)

    Apols for the long winded response!

  12. Ps Janet - most folk run away at my over enthusiasm and knowledge...............! At least i suppose they have paid, so they won't run away so quickly..............!
    Thank you for being so kind - its good working with this other chap - we garden quite differently - he's a bit more of a traditionalist than me - I think we compliment each other - I hope so.