My calamondin has left us. The leaves started to become brown from the centers and out, and that's never a good sign. Instead on looking up exactly what was the problem (I had a fairly good idea) I chose to be safe rather than sorry and threw it. It broke my heart in more than one way, because this plant has grown to be my son's special plant. He's helped me spraying the leaves with water and feeling if the soil in the container is moist enough. When I've turned my back he's also used its leaves in his cooking and tried out his toy chainsaw on its branches. He loved this little tree as only a two year old can love. My motherheart was aching while I cut it down, eventhough he happily helped with his little plastic pair of scissors (from a doctor play set he got for christmas). Thus, in a weak moment, I promised him that we would plant a pot of strawberries and put in the window instead.
This could have been asking for a disaster, but two-year-olds can do lots if you only give them time enough. We used two evenings on the project. The first one we did an adventurous quest up to the attic where I dug up a terracotta pot and he found his tricycle (in another pot). I told him the tricycle sleeps there while it waits for the summer. Once in the flat again my son immedately climbed a stool beside the kitchen sink, and watched my run around for soft soap and the right dishbrush. As soon as the water was prepared he started to scrub the pot from inside out, while I stood beside praising him for the good work. To make it fair we changed roles in the end, I scrubbed the pot and he praised me, although the pot was almost as clean as it could be.
My terracotta pots are left from a time when I was pretty lax in cleaning them and in handling my soil. To be absolutely safe from any leftover diseases I chose to sterilise it in the oven. I put it in while the oven was cold and heated it slowly, since I neither wanted the pot to crack in the process. Deary me, that took a long time for the oven to reach 150¤C! All the time a child and parent can have after work and daycare was completely absorbed, so we postponed the rest of the project to the next day.
The next evening we spent most of the time sweeping and drying the floor: my big bag of soil is leaking, and different watery moments left puddles. My son did this as he did all the other things; with a chearful smile and enthusiasm. He poured leca in the bottom of the pot, and then proceeded to fill it with soil, using his toy spade. Watering and sowing was also done almost by himself.
What I did in the meantime? I stood beside him, instructed on the different moments and waited - a lot (and I hold on tight to my own hands). A two-year-old has almost no experiences to fall back on, and his coordination are a bit crappy. Every moment dragged over a long period of time, and sometimes his fingers didn't completely do what he wanted them to do. The urge to cut in and finish the job for him could be almost irresistable - but I didn't give in to it.
Suddenly I realised that I hadn't soaked the pot before we put soil in it, and that it should be pretty dry after I sterilised it. What should we do now?
Well, why not use the new pflanzensprüher (heeheehee... I mean; the pressure plant sprayer)? My son became even more interested when I took it out, filled it with water and pumped up the pressure. He's been interested these cans ever since I brought them home, because he knows a giant spraying can when he sees one. (We've had some disagreements in the past on what should be sprayed with a spraying can; only the plants, like mom says - or the plants, the walls and the windows, like the son thinks.) Our tub was filled with various items, and clean clothes hanged above it to dry (most swedish homes without a separate laundry keeps the washing machine in the bathroom), so the only place left was the toilet seat. I put the pot on the lid and the can in the hands of my son. He released the pressure and with a steady hand he sprayed the pot while I turned it around. Well, he sprayed the toilet and a good part of the wall too. I thought the smile would take the top of his head off. He actually laughed with his mouth closed, sounding like a mad scientist.
Now a terracotta pot covered with plastic adorns my son's favourite window. We've already peeked inside for seedlings and checked that the pot feels right on the outside several times. I've told him that we'll have to wait for a looooooooooong time before anything happens, and he seems happy with that. If you ask him, I guess he thinks the pflanzersprüher was the best part.