We have had some excitement in the garden this week. Our plants are continuing to grow super fast from our week of excellent sun and we harvested our first few strawberries. I got some more seedlings planted and we spent quite a bit of time […]
I haven’t posted an update about the garden in a while since we got really busy and I ignored it for a bit…I am definitely paying for it now with weeding and chopping back, I mean pruning, the massive growth on our many ornamental bushes. I was keeping an eye on the bushes but we had a few days of sun and they seem to have all grown a foot and put out their flowers so I feel pretty bad about chopping those off. I tried to just trim where it was necessary such as along paths and to keep plants from growing too close to the house. This week I focused on weeding the larger weeds, installing soaker hoses in the vegetable beds and trimming back bushes where I could.
The bushes near the front of my house are starting to bloom and it will be gorgeous when all of the white flowers are out. I started the annual spring trim of these bushes so they don’t completely take over the front of the house but I didn’t get very far since it was so hot. I am hoping to finish next weekend but it will depend on the vegetable garden.
My gigantic Hydrangea bushes in the front have a couple of flowers just starting to bloom. I love these bushes and they were a selling point for me when we bought the house. I am a little concerned though because last year I spent many, many hours deadheading these bushes and even though I cut it back pretty severely last fall it apparently wasn’t enough to prevent massive growth. It seems to be extra bushy this year with lots of new branches and each and every one of them has a flower bud on it.
I am also concerned I will have the same problem this year as last year with the blossoms being to massive for the branches to support their weight when it rains. Most of the branches fell over last year and I had to cut the flowers strategically so that the branches didn’t break. I may have to cut these back even further this year and see how they do.
Our apple tree seems to be doing well. It is leaning a bit which is concerning but it did produce fruit! There are a few apples on a couple of the branches.
I was really excited to see them but I may end up pinching them off so the tree can grow a little more since it was planted only a year ago.
Our raspberries, blueberries and strawberries have quite a few fruit on them and the kids have been checking them periodically to see if they are ripe. I know once the blueberries begin to turn blue I will have a hard time keeping my three year old from sneaking over there and eating them before they are ripe. I did a little weeding in the fruit beds and pulled some of the outlying raspberry starts. There are way too many of them and I was afraid they would crowd the blueberries or the pear tree that is planted next to it. I may have to rethink my raspberries next year and move them into a planter to keep them from taking over my garden bed. I don’t have time this year though so that would be a project for fall.
In the vegetable beds we have some quick growing bush bean sprouts and some tiny broccoli starts. The beans popped up overnight. I took this picture on Sunday night, installed soaker hoses that night, turned them on for an hour and by Monday night the bean sprouts had doubled in size. I should hopefully be able to thin them this week.
Our watermelon (lower right) seems to be doing so-so. I think I may have left it too long in the cup since it has barely grown. The soil in the garden bed was a little dry so I am hoping that with the soaker hoses the plants will do better, despite my best efforts at watering.
We have flowers on our pumpkin plants! I am hoping the yellow one was pollinated by our busy bees!
Our squash and zucchini are doing well. I was having a hard time watering them without getting the leaves wet and I had to pull a few of the leaves off of them but they still had quite a few leaves so they should recover. Our cucumbers however bit the dust. I apparently planted them too early but thankfully I still have a couple of seed starts under the grow lights that I can harden off this week and get in the ground hopefully next weekend.
My lettuce is flourishing in it’s pot and my daughter has been grazing off of it every time we go outside to play. She will not eat salad but she helped grow this lettuce and has been helping water it for me and now she is actually eating it. It really shows how getting kids involved in gardening will help then expand their palates.
It is kind of hard to see but our asparagus is also blooming. They have not sent up any new shoots besides the first few in the spring but I think that is because we have kind of neglected them. They are pretty weedy and I may have forgotten to mulch them at the beginning of the season. I am hoping to at least get them weeded this week and possibly look into a large quantity of mulch to cut down on my weeding time in the future.
I did a rather hasty soaker hose install on Sunday night using rocks to keep my hoses down. I ordered clips a couple of weeks ago from Gardener’s Supply Store but they have not come yet. I am hoping to plant pole beans, luffa and peas this week so I will be moving the hoses around a bit next weekend to get a better fit.
They seemed to work ok. I ran them for an hour the first night and will try again in the morning. My soil probably needs some mulching in this bed so it will hold moisture better.
I had to get a little creative in the corner and I will have to hand water the marigolds but after an hour the area was pretty well soaked.
Here is a view of the entire set up. It is pretty ugly as is but after I tweak it a bit it should look better. Overall it worked pretty well. The carrot starts were a little iffy with the water so I may have to continue to hand water those but everything else seemed to get quite a bit.
I am really excited to see my vegetable garden take off in the next few weeks! What’s going on in your garden?
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 […]
The leaves are just starting to come out on our plants and bulbs are beginning to come up. I thought I would post some pictures from around the garden to show the current state it is in. Most of the plants in our garden are ornamental. The previous owners planted several of each type to run their flower business. We had about 10 hydrangeas and heavenly bamboos, several azaelas, fuchsias and honeysuckles and a large number of both male and female skimmias. They all require a lot of maintenance to keep them trimmed and looking nice which I am not so excited about. We have given away about 20 of the smaller ones, mostly in the front garden area and along the side of the house but as you can see in the pictures there are still many more left. I am hesitant to remove too many of them since we have a very healthy bee population I don’t want to disturb.
We have a relatively isolated front bed we will eventually turn into a vegetable garden. Currently there is some sort of tree, some white and purple butterfly bushes, some heavenly bamboo, some succulents that take over everything and several other low growing flowers. Last year we cleared a large section of it and installed a vegetable bed we inherited from our neighbor (free garden supplies are my favorite!). Our plans this year are to add another vegetable box next to the first one and to install a fence to help with pest management. Last year all of our starts except for tomatoes, beans and hot peppers were eaten. I am slightly discouraged by the holes I keep finding in the ground and when we turned the soil in our first garden bed. Please don’t make the same mistake as I did and let your children turn the bed by themselves..I found a large amount of our “good” soil squashed in with the “bad” stuff all around our garden bed. I may need to add more this year so it isn’t too shallow. We will be growing tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, peppers and carrots in these beds. I have also started sunflowers and watermelons but they will be planted in the ground.
I would also like to work on the South side of the house but we are experiencing some drainage issues there so they need to be resolved before we can start. I am torn between several ideas. I would love to add a greenhouse along this side, but we also need a play structure for the kids and somewhere to put chickens…my list is long and usable space is small since we are on a slope. As you can see the yard is a bit of a mess right now. We badly need to put down a weed barrier and mulch everything but time is a huge issue for us. I am also trying to do everything as frugally as possible and reuse materials whenever we can. We are having a tree removed asap and I am hoping they will be able to provide us with some wood chips to spread along the pathway to prevent further erosion.
My two gigantic hydrangea bushes in the front are beginning to leaf. I love these bushes. Last year they were covered in gigantic blue flower clusters. We had hydrangeas on the kitchen table for months. My daughter would carry them around the yard shaking them like pom poms and yelling at the top of her lungs. It was the best free entertainment for both her and us. She is hilarious. I can’t wait for this year when she teaches the baby how to shake the “ya yas”. He will love it. As you can see, this bed needs some TLC. I have trimmed two of the sword ferns, yanked out the opportunistic succulent starts and weeded, and weeded and weeded. It still is covered in weeds. I am going to mulch this bed for sure this year. On the street side is our asparagus and some herbs my husband planted. We will also be installing a fence at some point that will cut through this bed so it will need a little rearranging.
I also took some time today to check out our fruit trees and bushes. Our combination apple tree that we planted last year is beginning to leaf out. We recently planted an Asian pear and a pear combo that we got at Costco (our favorite place to shop) that look like in another week or so will begin to leaf. I was very pleased and a little worried that our Shortcake raspberry (planted last year) is spreading farther out than I thought it would. It is supposed to be small and compact, great for containers but I found several starts surrounding it. I may move it to a container to prevent further spreading since I also was gifted some large raspberry canes from a local Buy Nothing group member. I have no idea what variety they are but I know for sure they will spread so I placed them temporarily in the garden until I can make a box for them. Our blueberries are beginning to leaf and we are waiting to plant our third one until after I gift a white hydrangea left over from the previous owners.
Whew. I didn’t even get to the back yard today and already my list is super long. Happy gardening!