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Bateel Skycraper

 

Little Green Fingers

Little Green Fingers

Issue 58 July 2009

It all started with a seed, an apple seed in fact. Hiba had excavated it from her apple core and was now examining it inquisitively. “What’s this?” she asked holding the little black button in her hand. “That’s an apple seed,” her older sister Maria explained, knowingly. “If you plant it, it will grow into an apple tree and then you can get more apples.” Hiba was suitably impressed. “You just put them in the ground and more apples appear?” “Just so, and it works with anything,” Maria continued. “If you plant an orange seed you get an orange tree, a melon seed gets you a melon tree...”

This exchange left Hiba deep in thought: possibilities abounded and her imagination took wing. A week later I discovered Hiba and Sobia hard at work, digging in the vegetable patch, or rather the erstwhile vegetable patch.
“What are you two up to?” I asked, surprised at such industriousness. “We’re planting some trees!” Sobia exclaimed with gusto. “Trees! Really?” Faintly bemused, I asked “What kind of trees are you planting?” Surely there were no tree shoots to be planted. They pointed to the soil where some shiny wrappers were just visible; their gleaming surfaces glinting in the sunlight, multicoloured gems that stood out amidst the dark hues of the soil. “We planted a lollypop tree and a chocolate biscuit tree!” said Hiba excitedly. “Sorry, what did you plant?” I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. “Yeah Mum, that’s right! Look,” piped up Sobia. “We’ve planted a chocolate biscuit and a lolly pop in the soil. If we water them and look after them, they’ll grow into a lollypop tree and a chocolate biscuit tree. I can’t wait! And don’t worry, of course we’ll let you have some.” After shattering their illusions of a sweet shop, or rather plantation, materialising in our back garden, I felt it would be constructive to introduce the children to some real gardening. The opportunity cropped up a few days later. I was pottering about in the garden, doing some overdue weeding, whilst Maria, Sobia and Hiba were all out in the garden too. My gardening instructions seemed not to have enthused them at all: they were busy making mud pies. Time to inspire, I thought.

“Girls, come and see what I’m doing!” I called. They were reluctant to leave their muddy pile. ““I need your help – please!” The magic word works wonders. Over they trundled.
I took hold of the top of the carrots, which still had a couple of weeks to go, and pretended to pull. “I can’t pull this carrot out. It must be as large as the enormous turnip in your storybook. I need you to help me, all three of you – and maybe, just maybe, together we might make it work.” “Okay, Mum!” Hiba was obviously on board. Sobia was still unsure but was willing to give it a try anyway.

So, all hands struggling to clutch at the barely perceptible leafy heads of the carrot, we each gave it a heave and… Voilà – the carrot popped out! “Hooray, Mum we did it!” Maria exclaimed happily. “Well, I couldn’t have done it without you,” I declared, a white lie perhaps, but all for a good, green cause. “Look at what lovely delicious food we can grow. Thank you all for being such helpful gardeners.”

I left them and went indoors, taking the still unripe carrot with me. It was worth sacrificing one of my prize carrots if it would spark their interest in gardening, I thought. I felt even more smug when a few minutes later they came in, asking if they could use my tools to do some more gardening. Success at last! My efforts were finally reaping rewards. “That’s how you do it.” I congratulated myself, this is how you inspire children to do gardening; it need not be a dying skill after all. Then, half an hour later there was a muddy pile of unripe carrots on my kitchen table, accompanied by three muddier girls with beaming smiles of accomplishment.

“What have you done?” I cried. “Mu-um, we’ve finished the gardening,” Maria happily informed me in a satisfied sing-song voice. “Yes, we got all the carrots out of the ground for you!” added Sobia. “Isn’t that helpful of us?” spoke up Hiba, “We knew you couldn’t do it on your own, so we decided to pull them all out for you!”

I thought of all the hours I had spent doing my careful planting, and sighed to think of the results of this hapless little green-fingered adventure. I think the gardening lessons still have a long way to go…l




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