Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gardening Homeschool Style...Peace. Love. Organic Baby!

Gardening With the Kids 
Okay, so time to play catch up.  Just so you know now, no matter how hard I try, I will never be that awesome blogger that has something new to post every day.  Quite frankly, I probably really do have something interesting to cover each day, but because of so much that goes on in our home each day, I struggle to find the time to actually sit down and write about it.  I am trying to look at this as a way to journal, a way to document our lives, who we are, what we learn out there in this gigantic world that we are such a small piece I promise to keep trying to get better.  Especially for those of you that take the time to read all this jargon, LOL.  I hope that something good will come from you wasting those precious moments of your life reading about mine.  I promise to always try to give something in that hopes that someone else can learn something as we learn.  Or maybe just get a good laugh at how crazy things can be around the Clifford home (I recently overheard a few families talking at my child's birthday party about how they should make a reality show for my family, stating that they would watch it.  I'm not sure if that is good or bad, but at the very least, it must mean we are interesting! LOL)  Since at this time there are no networks knocking down my door to hear about all the weird little things that seem to encircle us and the hectic craziness that is filled with pure love, this is the closest thing you can get to my reality show.  For now, I will leave you with images of the summer unit we covered.  Gardening.  Yes, it was our first time...yes, I think we were wildly successful considering we didn't plant until late June and we had a few tornado winds that taught us a thing or two about corn crops (I truly feel for those farmers).  All in all, we learned so, so much and felt no more fulfilling joy than eating something we grew with our own hands, in our own yard and picked fresh before a meal to truly experience all the benefits of eating a living thing.  :)  Did I connect with my inner hippie on this one?  Definitely.  Will we be doing it again?  You betcha!  Growing and eating your own food tastes so much better than anything you can buy at a store, restaurant or even a farmers market.  It is like another baby of yours.  You nurture it and love it for the purpose of providing nutrition for you and your family.  That's love, baby...organically.   
 Enjoy some of the images I took over the summer of our gardening experiences.  Feel free to ask any a beginner, I did have my "experts" to consult with.  Never would a sprout have blossomed without their words and help.  :)

This is the ANYONE can grow a vegetable and fruit garden...even Kids!

The Space :)

The Experts...

Thank Goodness for Awesome Friends!

They were so kind as to help me prepare the soil by tilling, mixing in things to help aerate and enrich my clay like soil (like sand, peat and manure)

Then we made rows of soil and in between we layered pea gravel and black sand 4 times to give me something nice to walk on besides mud when the garden was watered or rained on.  :)

Yes, there is a reason you cannot see my is HOT.  Mid-June, Kentucky...SWAMP THING...need I say more?!

With my youngest boy, Gabe here installing the tomato plant cages.  For those of you who don't know.  Tomatoes are climbers and they need support.

These are just basic tomato plant cages from Wal-Mart ($3).  After I saw how much my tomato plants grew this year, I could see that they really needed taller, better supports.  I snubbed the $10 trellis type stands for them thinking they were too expensive, but knowing how much I love tomatoes and realizing how much they could have grown with better support...let's just say I won't cheap out on them next year.  :)

Once we planted our starter plants, we staked out soaker hose through each row for easy watering.  The kids and I lined the garden with the lovely creek rock we have all around our house.   I also decided to put some chicken wire all around since my neighbor told me all about the bunnies that ate up her garden last year.  My expert friends also told me that we could line the bed with marigolds and that would keep them away, but I didn't have much luck with the Marigold seeds I planted so this would have to do :)

 I got a bunch of paint stirring sticks and labeled each sproutling and starter plant.  i didn't trust myself to remember what everything was.  But really, as everything grew, it was pretty obvious what everything  Maybe I just like order.  :)  Well, the kids liked sticking the sticks in the rows anyway ;)

after watching my "expert" friend walk the rows barefoot, I was inspired to snap an image.  How connected he felt to mother earth while he gardened was such a blessing to watch.  :)

So yes, we bought a few starter plants for tomatoes,  peppers and a few other things that we found.  But we really wanted to plant from seed so we bought every variety we could find that we knew we would eat.  We bought a TON of these little seed starting pellets...Below is pretty much a "how-to" grow a garden from seed for beginners.  Easy peasy!
These things are GREAT.  Let your kids add water and watch their eyes POP as they Grow...
And grow...
We dug little holes in them and placed 3 seeds in each pellet.
We labeled each row so we knew how and when to transplant them.
Then we placed each tray on a shelf in our mega -score-yard-sale-find, the greenhouse :) 

Water every day and WAIT.  :)

What is this?  New growth!  We were thrilled!

 A few days later....yippee!  What fun!  The kids measured them and recorded them in their science journal each day.

Aren't they purdy?  These are the corn sproutlets.  Logan grew all of these and he was so proud!

Once they are tall enough and have established a good root system, it is time to transplant.  You plop the whole pellet into the ground just enough to cover.  The roots break through the soft mesh-like fabric and it becomes one with your garden from there.  Remember to water them well each day and help them establish their roots in your soil.  

Then we add our sproutlets to our garden in the spaces we reserved for them :)

I learned a lot about weeds.  I also learned this little guy is called "Wood Sorrell" and it is a tasty edible weed.  It has a bit of a citrusy flavor and it a perfect little flavor enhancer on fresh salads.  Thanks again, expert friends ;-)

*NOTE* A little something I learned about weeds.  They don't bother me as much as grass.  Most of the weeds were small and controllable.  I cannot say the same about grass.  It grew crazy fast and continued to try to take on my garden everyday.  The kids and I grew rather tired of pulling grass.  My friend suggested we smother it with newspapers.  And while that wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as I would have liked, it did the job very well and I didn't have to use a single chemical.  Yipee!

We really just had to go all around the border of the garden as that was where the problem started.  We shoveled heavy dirt over the top of it to keep it from blowing away in the wind.

Our little garden was thriving!  We were thrilled!  Our corn grew taller than our privacy fence :)

Corn silk!  Where there is silk, there will be CORN!  :)

Tomato Plant...did you know that where there is a blossom, there will be a fruit or vegetable?  Each of these blooms will soon be yummy delicious flavorful tomatoes!

So just when we were getting confident, the really interesting stuff happened.  Networks, are you listening?  Mega tornado winds hit.  My family was hiding in the basement while our sweet garden was taking the brunt of it.  We came out after to discover this...:(

Sadness.  Yes, there were tears.  All the kids were so discouraged.  But we had to dust ourselves off and do what any good fighters would do.  We tried to salvage.  We called in the experts.  They told us to tie up anything laying down with a strong string and anchor it to fence.  And pray.  lots.  So that is what we did.  
So much for aesthetics.  :(  But you do what you gotta do.   It looks like a giant spider spun a huge web in my garden.  Not to mention how much fun this is trying to get to everything when harvesting.  LOL  I feel a bit like a spy ducking and weaving through the laser traps.  As a matter of fact, that is exactly what my kids and I pretend we are doing while we navigate the garden now.  :)

So did all of our efforts pay off?  We did salvage much...but the corn took the hardest hit.  It never did come back like everything else did and eventually died off. We were lucky enough to get a few cobbs off before they actually gave up and Logan was very happy about that since he grew all the corn from seed.  

Boo-hoo...I feel like crying when I look at it.  Well, the good news is that we can use the dried corn stalks for fall decor around our home :)

So...enough about growing, maintaining, and salvaging.  Let's move on to the most colorful, rewarding part--The HARVEST.

Our first Cantaloupes. 

So I am not going to show you every bounty we collected, but they each were fruitful varieties like this, Usually every few days or so.  :)  We froze the peppers and used mostly everything else the day we harvested for salads and dinners.  We shared with the neighbors as well.  It was pure love baby!

As always, I like to show a bit of what the kids did when they grew tired of the work and needed a bit of play.  It's summer, right?!

The favorite of all...the tire swing.

Tori playing in her pink sand.  Yes, I did say it..PINK sand.  Thank you Crayola.

Logan climbing his favorite tree in the back overseeing the garden.  :)

Sprinkler under the trampoline+ neighborhood friends=forever memories!

And what does little Tori do when she gets tuckered out from all the madness?

Yes, she is still a diva!  We might as well be fanning her. ;)

And one final image to leave you with....

Silly, crazy rascals. :)


1 comment:

The Strong Story said...

Love it. ur the best mama. We also had a freak wind storm try to take our corn out this year, though not tornado force so it survived. We tried homeade salsa this year that was fun You should try some next year. I love the pics of the kids it reminds me to stop and enjoy the little moments. Amazing photos as always.


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