Sunday was Mother’s Day and my wonderful husband ran to the nursery and picked up soil after work on Friday and played with the kids on Sunday so that I could get my seedlings in the ground that were ready to plant. We spent Saturday […]
Sunday was Mother’s Day and my wonderful husband ran to the nursery and picked up soil after work on Friday and played with the kids on Sunday so that I could get my seedlings in the ground that were ready to plant. We spent Saturday prepping for my oldest’s 18th birthday party and then visiting with people until bedtime so I had to get my gardening fix in between visits with my mother and mother-in-law on Sunday. Phew. It was a very busy weekend and I am going to need a few days to recover!
I have been spending some time each weekend walking around the garden looking at how our plants are growing, seeing what needs trimming and planning out my projects for the week. I am really pleased with how things have finally started growing now that the weather has sort of gotten warmer. The chocolate mint plant we planted last year is really taking off. I was afraid we had killed it with lack of attention and a dicey move to a bad spot mid-season last year (and yes we have somehow killed a mint plant in the past) but it is taking over the slope like I wanted it to. Hopefully it will keep the slope from eroding further.
Last week we spent some time removing everything but the tree from our vegetable bed. This week we filled our new planter box with soil, filled in the holes from plant removal, made mounds out of the new dirt for squash and planted all of the seedlings that were ready. I planted cucumbers, spaghetti squash, zucchini, two tomato starts, watermelon, broccoli, bush beans, Hula berries and the remaining sunflowers, pumpkins, and Marigolds. I am hoping to plant our luffa, green beans and peas next week as well as any remaining squash, cucumber and zucchini plants.
Our carrots have started to come up in nice neat lines although I was not able to get a close up picture of them. I planted a couple of rows of bush beans in the right half of the box that I will be massively thinning when they come up. Last year we had pretty good luck with our bush beans so I am hoping this year will be the same.
In the new planter I put our remaining two tomato plants, a couple of marigolds and a couple of rows of broccoli seeds. I am a little nervous about direct sowing but luckily it rained right after I planted so hopefully the squirrels weren’t watching me and will go dig up all of my seeds. I am probably going to start a few more broccoli seeds inside in a few weeks to do succession planting with. We love broccoli in our house so ideally we would grow it into late fall.
I planted the two remaining sunflowers and moved the first one closer to our pest control fence. I wanted them right up against it since they will not shade the garden there and they do not take up too much space. I might start more of these inside next week so that we have them all summer long. I know that my kids will love seeing them once they realize what they are. I picked the biggest variety I could find for maximum impact.
Here is how I laid out our remaining pumpkins, the watermelon plant, sunflowers and marigolds. I did not plan well when I planted the first few pumpkins but this year is all about seeing what fits where so next year I will know to move the rows farther away from the fence. I put the marigolds into the pot so that they will be taller than the vines and still receive enough light. I left one mound of dirt for another watermelon plant but I doubt they will germinate. I put our only watermelon under one of my makeshift greenhouse containers since I didn’t really harden the plants off and my daughter will be extra disappointed if we lose our watermelons again this year to the evil slugs.
Here is our lonely watermelon plant. I am really hoping we get at least one semi-decent fruit out of it. My eventual goal is to have a greenhouse where I can grow these babies long term since watermelon is my favorite fruit. I would love to have a supply straight from the garden but in the Pacific Northwest our growing season just isn’t long enough for many varieties.
Another view of the new pumpkins and the marigolds. Hopefully they won’t be too cramped along the fence.
I made two long mounds along the length of the garden and planted zucchini on the left and spaghetti squash on the right. We all love spaghetti squash so I am hoping to have a bunch grow. I put one of the zucchinis under a makeshift greenhouse since it was small enough to fit and so that maybe it would do better.
This lovely patch of bare dirt is where the peas and green beans will hopefully go sometime soon.
A pot of marigolds near the squash.
The cucumbers got planted in between the tree and the fence. I figured they might climb the fence a little but they also should have enough room to grow along the ground as well. Maybe next year I will try a cucumber trellis. Vertical gardening is very intriguing to me.
A view of the layout of the planter boxes.
We crammed a lot of vegetables into a small space so hopefully it will work out. I love experimenting with the placement of things and I am already excited for next year and trying to figure our where I will be putting things. I am happy with what we have done so far this year and I hope everything has enough room to grow. It is our first time growing many of these plants so we are not familiar with exactly how big they will get.
A view from the top.
Our lettuce continues to grow. It will need thinning soon but I am really happy with how healthy it is. Right after I took this picture the puppy knocked over the planter but thankfully the top layer remained intact and only the second layer of lettuce dumped out. My husband filled it back up and thinned it so hopefully the lettuce will recover. If not I can always reseed.
During my tour of the garden I stopped to look at the blueberry flowers. Despite being small they are very pretty and I was pleased to see that our bushes are covered in them. Our kids will definitely be sneaking over to this section of the garden to eat them all summer!
I planted the Hula berries in this empty spot behind the blueberry bushes and sort of near our pear tree. It is full of weeds but I pulled the biggest ones and hopefully the Hula berries will do ok there. I plan on mulching this area eventually but we are still waiting on our trees being cut down.
Our Asian pear tree looks a little sad still. The leaves are still coming out and it looks to have flowered a little bit but there is not much growth on it.
I am not sure what this flower is but every time I walk down the south side of the house I am struck by how beautiful the pink blossoms are against the dark green leaves. It is definitely a plant I will be keeping!
This bush is by far my favorite secret find from the previous owners. I have been eagerly waiting for it to flower and it looks like it is getting close. Luckily the previous owner left the tag on it and it is some sort of Korean lavender. When it blooms the sweetest most wonderful smell permeates the yard for about a week and it is heavenly. I can’t wait for it to be in full bloom!
After I worked outside I went back in and checked my seed starts. They were doing well and I found a few surprises!
Lo and behold a lone ground cherry seedling! I was beginning to give up on these but it looks like leaving them under the lights has possibly paid off. We have one super tiny ground cherry start and hopefully it will grow big and strong!
I also discovered my luffa plants are beginning to sprout. This is the first one and it looks like a couple of others are starting to break through so hopefully in a couple of weeks we will have several strong plants. I am really excited about these since if they are successful I will be able to give them as gifts or possibly sell them at a profit.
We got a lot done in the vegetable garden this week and hopefully by next week we can get the beans and peas in with new trellises. I am going to try and make a pea tepee out of branches found in the woods so hopefully there are a bunch the right size for the job.
Happy gardening everyone!
We have been spending a lot of time lately working on sensory play with our kids. They love to get messy and a lot of the activities we have been doing are brand new to our one year old and our three year old hasn’t done them in a while because of how difficult it was to keep her brother from destroying everything. We tend to do at least one a day depending on what the kids want to do. I try and let them decide which activity to do unless I have something in mind or I don’t want to do laundry. Since the weather has finally started to warm up in the Pacific Northwest we have been doing a lot of sensory play outside with found materials.
Having kids work with their hands using a variety of materials is a great way to have them learn without it seeming like forced work. So many parents I talk to are amazed at how much we do with our kids but honestly it is super easy and it doesn’t cost much to set things up. Many of the set ups I made when our three year old was one we are still using and will continue to use for many years and the others (most of them) are ones where my kids ask to play with something and I throw a bunch of things in a bin and they play. My kids also find sensory play items in their own as well and unless there is a safety issue I usually let them play with it. We have been on a strict budget ever since I can remember so I have not spent a lot of money. They key is to not get caught up in all of the fancy sensory bins you see on Pinterest with very specific items included in them and to make sure and buy materials that can be used for many different activities. Every once in a while throw in something new or “new” to them (as in mommy hid it for several months) and it will keep them interested.
Our focus lately has been water play. In the winter we have dumped bath toys in the kitchen sink and I have had the kids wash them for me but I only like to use that activity for special treats (like when the kids have cabin fever) since it can get out of hand and cause a huge mess. The weather has finally gotten warm enough so that the kids don’t freeze when they get wet outside so we have moved to the front yard. We used to live in a townhouse with no yard but a decent deck that was shaded in the heat of the summer so in the afternoons I would get our middle daughter a big bowl of water and sit out there with her while she poured water out of her tea pot over and over again. She absolutely loved it. Writing this reminds me I have to find that tea pot so that the kids can play with it this summer.
Now that we have two kids I have had to get a little more creative. I usually give them our white dish pans that we never use for dishes. I bought them several years ago at Target and we use them almost exclusively for sensory play. The dish pans, a set of large sterilite containers similar to these and this set of sensory tools are by far the best sensory play items I have bought so far. The dish pans are the perfect size for keeping projects small but deep enough so that material spills way less often then something shallow like a cookie pan and the sterilite containers work well for when you want a little more room, especially if the kids want to sit in your material which is good for them as well.
Our one year old’s first time using the dish pans outside. He was content with two red cups leftover from planting seedlings. Both had holes in them but all he cared about was practicing scooping and pouring water into the bin.
I had to bring out both dish pans when both kids were outside last week since they each wanted to play in a different way. They used the red cups, beach toys and watering cans to scoop and pour.
Today I turned on the hose to water some plants I had moved and our son ran into the garage, dumped out the first white bin he could find and brought it to me to fill. It was super sweet. I guess he loves playing with water outside! The kids were a little bored with the same toys so I added some bubbles to the pan. Oh man. Our one year old loves bubbles. He was so excited I had to break out the large sterilite container I have for larger sensory play and fill that with bubbles. It also kept the water loss down since the waterwheel drained back into the container instead of on the grass. They played with bubbles for over an hour until both of them were cold and ready for dinner.
Here is some of the sensory play we did outside the last couple of weeks:
We have done some indoor play as well. My kids have been obsessed with their legos and our creative muscles have been working hard making stores, schools, houses, and many other creations.
Our son has just started to really play with them so it has been a lesson in sharing and taking turns for everyone.
There are many many other ways you can do sensory play. In the past we have used water beads, kinetic sand, gak, pinto beans, flax seed and many more ideas.
What ways do you use sensory play in your home?
This past weekend we started our work on completely overhauling our front bed. It was originally planted with all ornamental plants and last year we removed a couple of large bushes and installed a planter box we were gifted from our neighbor. After a winter […]
We recently had to switch to a dairy-free lifestyle in an effort to see if our younger kids have a sensitivity that is causing them some serious sinus problems. I was having a hard time finding granola bars for our kids that were dairy free, […]
A few weeks ago we had our three year old help us pick out flowers to give to our friends when we ate dinner at their house. Being three, she was instantly lured to the artificially colored daisies in rainbow hues. She absolutely loved them and my husband being his ever informative self told her that they did not come that way naturally. Of course this new information sparked her ever present curiosity and we found ourselves promising her that we would make them ourselves some day soon. The day finally came last week and our daughter had a ton of fun making them.
We bought our flowers during our weekly Costco trip and used some of our larger mason jars for the food coloring. We just happened to be very low on yellow so we made red, orange, green, blue, purple and one with half the flower in red and the other half in blue (to teach the color wheel). I bought our food coloring at our local grocery store some time ago but you can also find it here although the price on Amazon seems absurdly high. I am pretty sure I paid under $2.00 for mine so check your local grocery store. There is no need for high quality food coloring here, but it would be another experiment to see if some of the gel food coloring would bring out more vibrant colors.
We filled our jars part way with water and cut off a few inches from the bottom of the flower stems. You should make sure they are a good height for your jars so they don’t tip over. We divided up three for each single color and one for the split color.
Added food coloring. My husband just squirted a bunch in there.
Here are what the colors looked like in the jars. The one second from the left is orange even though it looks pink. You can test your colors by dipping a paper towel in it to see what it will look like.
To make our dual color flower we carefully sliced the stem of one flower with a knife.
Next we pulled it apart a little. Not too much though or you will break off a piece. We then cut and pulled it until it would be steady in our glasses. We ran out of mason jars so we just used regular drinking glasses.
Place the split stems with one in each glass. Make sure they won’t pull each other over.
Once our flowers were in place we let them marinate.
Here is what they looked like after about two hours. You can just barely see some of the tint on some of them. A couple of the red flowers looked pinkish.
Another view of the blue. There was just a little on the tips of the petals.
Here is what our flowers look like after a few days. Our flowers were well watered prior to bringing them home so it might be another experiment to leave some out of water for a period of time and see if they soak up the dyed water more quickly.
If I had been on the ball this would have been a great way to introduce a scientific notebook to our daughter. Now some of you may be saying she is too young for that but it is important to introduce these concepts early. STEM is the focus of many schools’ curriculum and just exposing your kids to the terminology from a young age will give them a leg up when they start school. At the age of three I would write the steps to the scientific method with very simple explanations for each one and have her draw a picture of the experiment. I would also have her “write” some notes on it which she may or may not fully understand but again, it is important to expose them early. Even if your kids do not understand the concepts now, they will be setting the foundation for when they learn them in the future. This is very important. Too many times I hear parents telling me “well my child was asking about such and such but they are too young for that”. Take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity! If they are constantly being told they can’t do things eventually they will internalize it and it will be much harder when they are older to get them to try new things.
Some science questions to ask you kid while you are doing this experiment:
What do yo think will happen to the flowers when they are in the water?
How does the water travel up the flower’s stems?
How long do you think it will take for the dye to transfer to the petals?
What will the red/blue split flower look like when it is done?
What colors will form when you combine red and blue? Blue and yellow? Any other color combination?
Why does the color move to the flowers?
Do all flowers change color when you put them in dye?
What colors are in the rainbow?
Some books to read about flowers and colors:
We had a lot of fun making our rainbow daisies! I am excited for our future science experiments!
We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week. Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant. I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through […]