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Allotment with young child, bad idea?

(38 Posts)
Taystee Fri 10-Apr-15 19:20:53

I've put my name down for an allotment with approx two years waiting list and had a vision of us being able to go down there on evenings and weekends with our DS who will be four by that point. I'd love to teach him about growing food but our current garden is too small for anything but pots. I understand how much work will be required but am I totally deluded that we'd be able to spend hours at a time with him there? I've spoken to the allotment manager and he's put me off by saying how dangerous it will be... Should I take our name off the list and stick to tumbling toms on our patio?

tippytappywriter Fri 10-Apr-15 19:25:20

I'd say it very much depends on the child. I have one who is an outdoor, pitch in and help child and the other who is an indoor, head in a book child. Why not keep on the wait list and see how you feel when one becomes available?

lolalotta Fri 10-Apr-15 19:27:26

Well, I'd take no notice of the allotment manager if I were you! It sounds like he's trying to put you off! We have had raised beds in the past (in our garden admittedly, we don't at the mo though as we are re-seeding a new lawn) and my 4 year old LOVED fiddling around helping me! Go for it! It's lovely to be able to share this with you little one! grin

purplemurple1 Fri 10-Apr-15 19:31:54

Dont set your hopea to high for a great harvest and concentrate on easy and / or fast growers and maybe something fun like a few sunflowers.
Maybe im missing something but i dont get why it would be dangerous.

meglet Fri 10-Apr-15 19:32:18

it's not dangerous.

mine started a sword fight with a rake and a fork today

seriously, I'm a LP and we've had our plot for a year. I take a picnic lunch for the dc's, let them dig over their own patch, help me and they can wander round looking at the other plots and chickens.

It will be great fun for all of you. Hopefully you will also find that your neighbours will a) give you lots of tips and b) happily chat to your dc every so often smile

FlossieF Fri 10-Apr-15 19:40:11

I have an allotment and 2 DSs - almost 3 & 6 yo. The younger one sometimes will be happy mucking around for long enough for me to get something useful done. Trouble is there is so much potential for him to hurt himself / trample on precious plants / do impromptu weeding that it's hardly relaxing and I have to be constantly on guard. It's easier with the older one - he is happy sitting for an hour or so in the car or on a deck chair with a book or playing games on the iPad!

I have tried getting them to help out but with limited success but i live in hope. I do like the fact that, at least, they do actually know where veg comes from even if they don't join in much and I shall continue to take them for a good while yet.

I say go ahead anyway but be prepared for the happy hours digging/planting together not to happen!

purplemurple1 Fri 10-Apr-15 21:02:08

If you have pots already leattuce is easy and fun to grow and you can buy the plant as a normal lettuce in most supermarkets. A few baby carrots grow well in pots as well. Dont wait if its something you want to try.

Aphie Fri 10-Apr-15 21:10:29

I hate to sound full of myself when I say this. But I'm one of 6 children and we all used to 'help' our parents on the allotment. Other gardeners were very tolerant of us all and seemed to enjoy us being around. So I say go for it, set up a small part of it just for them and let them help you with the rest. One local ladies allotment has a child's swing on it for her daughter to play.
Go for it, don't get discouraged but like others have said you should keep growing what you can in your garden, your DS will learn as he grows and when you get an allotment he may understand what he can and can't do.

stubbornstains Fri 10-Apr-15 21:15:47

4 isn't too bad.....2 is a nightmare, in the sense that you sometimes have to work pretty hard to get a job done on an allotment- you know, 45 mins of solid digging or whatever- and breaking off to tend to a meltdown/ boredom/ criminal damage every 5 minutes can be very wearing......hmm.

My 5 year old is a tad hit and miss now, but it's definitely better than the early days.....it's helped that we've just moved to allotments with a shallow stream at the bottom (within eyesight). If there are other children on the allotments, this is also invaluable; arrange to go at the same time as them, and they can have an idyllic time poking each other with sticks.

AuntieDee Fri 10-Apr-15 21:42:59

He might be trying to put you off due to not relishing the though of a small child in general. People go to allotments to escape family life - it's a bit like going to the put to escape and there being kids running round.

Ratfinkandbobo Fri 10-Apr-15 21:47:25

I don't have an allotment but my dc's have helped on others from 4, depending on the child its a good idea, they loved to help and bring veg home to est'

Ratfinkandbobo Fri 10-Apr-15 21:47:45

Eat, evengrin

Stitchintime1 Fri 10-Apr-15 21:50:47

I did it. It worked brilliantly. They had their own plots (mud patches.) What spoiled our fun was me going back to work full time. Allotments and full time work turned out tob e impossible.

TeWiSavesTheDay Fri 10-Apr-15 21:54:19

I think 4 would be okay. My 3yo is not terribly interested in our veg patch (at home) but my 6yo and 1.5yo can amuse themselves with a wheelbarrow, mud and water for hours...

To be honest I'm glad we've not got one at the minute because at home stroppy middlechild can play inside if necessary. We did have to dig up our tiny front garden to fit a very small veg patch in though, and I know that's not possible everywhere.

There's also a lot more washing!

IdaClair Fri 10-Apr-15 22:02:56

Why would it be dangerous? I have an allotment, have had it four years and have dc aged 8 and 2. Smallest has been on the allotment since days old. We spend several hours there a week.

Where is the danger? It is a garden!

GnomeDePlume Fri 10-Apr-15 22:11:38

There is a chap on a plot near mine who has been bringing his son to the field since his son was a toddler in a buggy. His son is now around 5ish. Sometimes his son grumbled a bit but nothing major.

Allotmenteering should not be dangerous. It's only fruit and vegetables.

<hides burnt fingers result of farting around with the lawn mower>

ChishandFips33 Sat 11-Apr-15 06:12:15

I agree, take him and see but make it playful for him too and focus on getting him set up first (then you'll be able to crack on with your side of things!) Give him his own little mud patch (google mud kitchens for ideas for him (it doesn't have to be an actual kitchen theme though, but he may enjoy the pouring filling mixing side of the equipment)) he'll likely like his own little waterbutt or you can decant from yours in to a camping water carrier or beer brewing barrel for him.
If he's into cars and things let him take some cars, diggers etc and he'll make his own fun. Let him have small piles of gravel woodchips etc too
If he likes small world, animal, superhero play look at 'fairy gardens' and adapt the ideas - plants and veg can be grown as part of its habitat and he might enjoy making things at home to add to it.
He could create a little bug hotel (great ideas on Pinterest) or fashion bird houses from scraps of wood, bottles etc

Taystee Sat 11-Apr-15 06:24:18

Thanks for all the positive replies everyone. The allotment manager said he could trip and put his eye out on a bamboo stick and that allotments aren't playgrounds. I didn't think they were but maybe I've chosen a particularly stuffy one. I'm feeling more positive about it now. I do have a terrible habit of letting grumpy people get to me.
I love the ideas for kids play ideas as well. Keep them coming, thanks!

Magmatic80 Sat 11-Apr-15 06:50:37

Grow asaparagus! I distinctly remember having a brilliant time playing amongst the 'trees'. I loved picking the runner beans too, and the stream at the bottom was EXCELLENT fun. There was a pile if rocks for some reason which was very diverting too. I don't know how old I was tbf, but must have been right from babyhood. Gosh, haven't thought about the allotment for years! My childhood was idyllic smile

I think there's a window of opportunity, which I missed, mine were 7 and 9 when I got mine and they have shown very little interest, the older one (now 11) doesn't really come up there at all, the younger one does occasionally but has such strong ideas of what she wants to grow and where (having watched the great allotment challenge on TV) most of which is impractical that it is hard for me to get on with anything. There's no communal area to play in and the paths are narrow, I did have to keep an eye on them when we first used to go up there to make sure they didn't stray onto anyone else's plot playing hide and seek. When they were younger they were much better at just playing with mud and water, and loved "helping" they're just not into that now.

The point about falling on bamboo canes is a valid one though, keep an eye in neighbouring plots as not everyone covers them. Our site isn't stuffy at all, everyone is lovely, but apart from the odd sunny Sunday afternoon you rarely see children there.

rholo Sat 11-Apr-15 08:37:11

We got our allotment let summer when our DD was 3.5 It was a little tricky at first because there were so many nettles and bits of broken glass and rusty metal but we just went up for lots of short visits and made a safe part for her with some toy dinosaurs and a bucket of mud! Now that she's 4 we are up there for much longer spells and she loves it, especially digging, playing with worms and making mud pies. We have also put a trampoline up there which helps a little! Our site is pretty duly friendly and there are quite a lot of kids up there. Hope that helps.

neversleepagain Sat 11-Apr-15 20:53:56

We got our allotment today and have 2.6 year old twins. They love being in our garden and I am hoping they will love the allotment. I didn't, for one minute, think of it being dangerous for them.

GnomeDePlume Sun 12-Apr-15 08:27:41

The thing to remember is that allotments arent set up for children. They are like a 1970s public information film made manifest:

- Chemicals in lemonade bottles
- sharp edged tools left lying around
- pointy sticks sticking up out of the ground
- old broken climbing frames used for climbing beans
- sheds with dodgy locks
- no one has been CRB checked

Keep your own plot tidy. Keep your children on your plot, never, ever let them stray onto someone else's plot - not to retrieve a toy, not to look at the interesting thing on the far side of the field.

On most fields the plots arent segregated by fences. This means that you will need to make clear the boundaries of your plot. Use something brightly coloured like washing line pegged out. Make sure that your children stay inside that line all the time.

This isnt to frighten you but remember the above and your children (and you) will have a lovely safe time.

EauRouge Sun 12-Apr-15 09:32:27

I have a 4 year old and a 6 year old. Sometimes they love going to the allotment, other times I have to pay them 50p and then listen to them moan the whole time grin

They love having little jobs to do- picking up stones is a good one for a 4 year old, just give them a bucket and leave them to it. They've also chosen some seeds (some variety of massive pumpkin) to grow so they feel involved. They are very much looking forward to strawberry season as well.

The only added danger that we don't have in our garden is slug pellets, so do keep an eye out and warn your DS if other allotment holders are using them.

My DDs know not to go onto other people's plots but they are allowed to walk along the path and look at other plots. Sometimes there are other children there and they go off in a little gang. There are quite a few families at our allotment.

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