Posts Tagged ‘gardening with kids’

Happy Halloween from the Garden!

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Hello gardening friends & followers! We haven’t blogged since mid summer!  We temporarily suspended our vegetable gardening and traveled for a little bit.  We are happy to be back working in the garden beds!

We have been composting and replenishing our garden boxes. The purple beans are back (as requested by our little gardeners), and we are bringing indoors a few herbs and a young moringa in preparation for the coming winter. But my favorite thing about fall gardening is the crisp lettuce!!!

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Halloween Crafting: Monster Jar Luminaries

 

When we haven’t been in the garden, we have been playing with the kids.  This month we upcycled some old pickle jars into monster jar luminaries!

 
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We simply:

Painted the glass jars with acrylic paint (careful it stains).

Spray painted the lids.

Used a sharpie to draw on monster faces!

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We hope you are having a wonderful autumn and will have more blog posts coming soon!!!

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Hello April!

April is an awesome time to garden in Florida.  The weather is great… warm and sunny with a breeze.  April is typically before rainy season begins here so the bugs and humidity are at a minimal.  The only advice I can think to give this month would be since the weather is so nice, dry, and breezy… keep an eye on your watering.  I have to had to lightly water almost every other day this month.

marchgarden1The saliva is blooming in the garden right now! Salivas also known as sages have a long flower blooming period.  They attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies to our garden.

gardenApril1 gardenApril2The little gardeners have really enjoyed picking cherry tomatoes in the garden.

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Lots of onions have been ready for harvest this month. The girls think they take too long to grow. ;)

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The rest of the month we are working on a new butterfly garden in the front yard! We started native milkweed from seeds a few months ago, but they are slow to grow this season.  We purchased scarlet milkweed, native lantana (below), and a purple variety of lantana this week.  We have several other native wildflowers and plants to add to our new butterfly santuary… once it is dug up!  There is a lot of St. Augustine grass to be removed first, so we’re pulling Dad in on this spring project!

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I will take before and after pictures!

Hope you all are enjoying April, whatever your weather may be like!

Gardening Books for Kids

We added a new book to our Favorite Gardening Books for Children list:

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

It’s a sweet book about growing a young girl’s imagination in the garden. Preschool – Grade 2

We borrowed it from our local library, but you can also purchase it for around $12.

We are also excited to announce that we ordered the new Wings, Worms, and Wonder book by Florida author Kelly Johnson. The official release is August 20th.

A  Guide for Creatively Integrating Gardening and Outdoor Learning into Children’s Lives

We are excited to explore the lesson plans and see what Kelly can add to our gardening experiences. Look for a review in September. Until then you can see more of our children’s gardening book selections here.

Happy Gardening!

Late August in the Garden

We are looking forward to cooler weather!!! We’ve had our fill of August & the heat!  Ugh!

Cymbopogon (lemongrass)

We may be tired of the heat but the grasses are loving it!!! I love cooking with fresh lemon grass in the late summer. When combined with garlic & other spices it is has some fabulous health benefits.

Caladiums are one of the easiest things to grow.  I love the color they give my flowerbeds, this time of year. Be careful though they are poisonous to pets.

   

We are already thinking about fall gardening!  From left to right: leeks, marigolds & celery sprouts will be transplanted into the garden beds soon!  Radishes & sweet potatoes are in the ground already!  By October we are hoping lettuce, broccoli & carrots will be growing in abundance as well! :)

Lantana

Happy Gardening!

Comparisons

When we cleaned out the tomato plants, I let the little gardeners play with the remaining tomatoes. We spent over an hour comparing, discussing & playing with the tomatoes.

We picked out our favorite, the ugliest, the biggest, the smallest, and the smelliest! They lined them on the edge of the gardening beds by size, color & shape.  They even made tomato families.

We made tomato soup & had a pretend picnic. We discussed how important decomposition was, in little gardener terms, and put some of the juicer tomatoes in the composter.

It was a fun lesson for my kids while I worked & got a little exercise in the garden. We all got sunshine, fresh air and enjoyed our morning with the tomatoes!

Happy Gardening!

Eggplants!

Eggplants! Or as my littlest gardener would say, “Egg-ants!”

Our eggplant crop was the largest & most sucessful of our late summer gardening efforts this year.  The littlest gardener really enjoyed the purple veggies.

We chatted about ways to cook them on our Facebook Page this month & our followers came up with some wonderful recipes for me to try! Here’s two delicious suggestions:

Greek Moussaka (submitted by Mastergardening)

Eggplant, Flower and Haloumi stack (submitted by Caroline Webster, who is also fun to follow on Twitter)

 

My littlest gardener found she liked to draw with chalk on the egg-ants we harvested each week.

 

She also enjoyed kissing them! :)

And she even picked some of their flowers & counted to three for me one morning!!!

We are down to just a few eggplants left growing this season. I plan on making my families’ favorite Eggplant Parmesan (with fresh basil) one last time. 

Happy Gardening!

Sweet Potatoes

We are attempting to grow sweet potatoes in our garden for the first time this summer!  Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes like it hot!  They are native to Central and South America. Their vines need room to grow so after our tomatoes, okra and other veggies cleared out of the garden, we planted two sweet potatoes that had gotten old in our pantry.  We first started them in a glass full of water on the kitchen counter.  Much like an avocado, they simply sprouted leaves and roots.

I realized that I started them a bit late. It is recommended they are started in April and May in Florida because they have a 95-120 day harvest.  We started ours in June.  However, they are doing well in the garden and myself and the little gardeners are looking forward to this experience.  

The next step is mulching.  They love mulch to help promote new vines & growth. Here are some other tips I found for planting, growing & harvesting sweet potatoes:

  • Plant sweet potatoes about 12 inches apart, and allow 3 feet between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run.
  • Good root development depends on aerated soil (that’s why they like mulch). They are the ideal crop for areas with sandy soil.
  • About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a balanced organic fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label).
  • Sweet potatoes are not very sweet when first dug, but they are fine for sweetened pies or casseroles. They need a period to sit and “cure” to bring out their sweetness. Don’t wash before curing.
  • In late summer, sweet potatoes often produce flowers that resemble those of morning glory, a close botanical cousin.  
  • Taken from various online sources, including: http://www.bonnieplants.com/LearnGrowLibrary/HowtoGrowBonnieVarieties/tabid/128/ID/220/How-to-Grow-Sweet-Potatoes.aspx

We are looking forward to vines, flowers & curing potatoes later this summer! Fingers crossed!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Update: 6.21.11

Happy First Day of Summer!

My little piece of paradise. :)

It feels like 98 degrees in the garden this afternoon.  It’s been HOT and we’ve had a lot of smoke from the area wildfires on top of the heat.  We have managed to get out in the garden a little bit though!  The Organicide spray is helping with whatever wilt or bacteria was taking over the garden. We lost the okra & peppers but everything else is looking much better! 

We harvested the first of our eggplants & the garden is full of the color purple!

Our two Celebrity tomato bushes have been producing more tomatoes than we know what to do with! I’ve been giving them to friends and neighbors, and even tried making my own sauce in the Crockpot with some of them.

There are more green tomatoes on the plants too.   I will have to look into more ways of saving & using them.  We’ve had tomatoes with almost every meal this week! hehe

This is how big just one tomato plant has gotten. It has to be at least six feet tall and six feet wide! It is funny how I have failed at growing them for years & then this year has been a stellar crop.

Even the basil is looking good this week. It is something that is hard to grow in humid Florida summers, since it is prone to wilt & disease.  It has been a delicious addition to our meals!

I am also happy to report that my avocado plants have recovered. They weren’t getting enough sun & were getting too much water. Now they are looking much healthier & getting big for the containers!

We are looking forward to the break the vegetable gardens give us in July. We have plans to close the composer & solarize the soil once the current veggies finish their cycles.  

Happy Gardening!

Nature Journal

Our oldest gardener will start Kindergarten in August.  To continue to develop her handwriting skills this summer we are starting a nature journal project.  Our first assignment was to make the journal!  So, I purchased a basic writing fundamentals notebook by Mead. 

We then talked about decorating the cover with things that remind us of Florida living.  We gathered last year’s nature magazines and a couple pairs of scissors, and started looking for anything related to Florida nature and wildlife.  I also helped her cut out the letters for the words Nature Journal.

We then talked about other materials we could use on our journal cover. I’m a huge fan of mixed media art, so I always try to remind her of non-traditional art supplies.  Shells, sand and other backyard finds were mentioned for our Florida themed cover.  We drew lines with glue and then went out to the sand box and dumped sand on them. 

We even placed three pieces of the Southern Slash Pine on the cover: pine bark, pine needles and pieces of a pine cone.

After our gardener was happy with its appearance and everything had completely dried, I sealed the cover with polyurethane to help it last through the summer.

Our First Journal Entry: 6/01/11

What she observed while taking a nature walk at dusk…

…a dark blue sky, two frogs and a bat (picture of sky and bat).

Journal Entry Two: 6/04/11

Take the camera and find something to take a picture of in the backyard. (Boy was she in for a treat)!

She found a Painted Lady Butterfly with a slightly injured wing. It sat quiet drinking on the lantana while she took a few (good) pictures.  As we were looking at the wing injury the butterfly flew up & landed on her tummy. She squealed with delight but held perfectly still!

  

Our little gardener has been super excited to WRITE in her journal and can’t wait for her next assignment!

Happy Summer! 

Butterfly Release

On Mother’s Day our Painted Lady Butterflies were ready to be released.  We had lived with 10 of them for weeks, taking them to show n tell and moving them into their butterfly nets to wait for their completed transformation.  Raising them with my children each spring is always the neatest thing. We learn something new each time!  

This year we could see the chrysalis change so clearly. We would know which ones were going to hatch next.   One morning as we were eating breakfast, we had the opportunity to literally watch one come out of its chrysalis.  My oldest couldn’t believe how little & wet looking the wings were & then how quickly they opened & dried.  We never seem to grow tired of the miracle of life!

          

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