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Tag: sunshine

Blueberry Picking 2017

Blueberry Picking 2017

We have had a super busy summer and I was really bummed that we missed the July blueberry picking season. Our bushes are only a couple of years old and don’t produce anywhere near enough berries for us to freeze. They were eagerly eaten every […]

Garden Update July 10th 2017

Garden Update July 10th 2017

We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line […]

Gardening Update

Gardening Update

This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding.  We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied.  We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff around the garden so that it looked better for the party. I in no way got it looking nearly as nice as I wanted it to but the weeds were more in control and the lawn was at least mowed.

 

I have been really pleased with the growth in our vegetable garden.  All of the plants took off when the sun came out and we have quite a few vegetables growing.  Most of them are squash but now that they are starting to grow I can tell which plant is which. It is very helpful!

 

 

I pulled the last of our seedlings from the indoor grow area and started hardening them off this week. My ground cherry is growing well and has a couple of fruits on it. Yay! It looks like most of the other plants are bottle gourds. I am a little tight on space so I will have to find somewhere else to stash these.  I am thinking of planting them near the hydrangeas in our front bed for now and install some netting so they can grow vertically. I also have some room over by the blueberry bushes but that area is very weedy and I don’t know if that will be a problem later.  I might have to super mulch and see if that solves the problem.

 

 

The bush bean plants have gotten super tall. They seem to have grown a couple of feet in the last week or two.  We have been checking them every day but we missed a day for graduation and they seemed to grow overnight.

 

 

I am really excited about our carrots.  We grew this variety last year and had no luck.  They doubled in size over the last few days and I am hoping that they are growing some nice roots down in the soil!

 

 

We have a few pumpkins! I am really hoping they aren’t eaten by the pesky squirrels and crows.  I seem to be missing 95% of my strawberries and I think I know who has eaten them…

 

 

Our squash plants are taking over the bed. I planted way to many of them for the area. I honestly was not sure if they would even grow.  We should hopefully have a bunch though so I can freeze a bunch for the winter.  They are mostly summer squash so  they won’t keep over winter.

 

 

Baby zucchini!

 

 

Yellow squash! I took this photo a couple of days ago and they are much bigger today.  I didn’t get a picture but they almost looked big enough to eat. Yellow squash is one of my favorites!

 

 

Our Luffa plants are starting to grow up the trellis.  I need to trim them back a bit but I am waiting for the first flowers so I can do it all at once.  These really are my experiment this year.  I am hoping they do well so we can switch to natural sponges instead of synthetic.

 

 

We have a couple of tiny cucumbers.  I am going to have to train these with some string so they can find the fence behind them. I didn’t plant them quite close enough.

 

 

Our green beans are doing ok. They have been attacked by some slugs and many of them lost their leaves.  I am going to start another batch next week and set up a beer slug trap as soon as I can get around to it. Hopefully that will help.

 

 

Do you see these? These popped up in the garden a couple of weeks ago and I have been watching them carefully.  They first appeared to be weeds but I was hopeful and decided to let them grow a bit before I pulled the plug.  I am fairly certain now what they are since I compared them to my seedling from the laundry room. Do you know what they are? I am pretty sure they are volunteer ground cherries from our plant last year.  We planted it in this spot and many of the ground cherries were either squished or left under leaves since we had a very successful harvest last year and missed a bunch of them.  I am really excited about it if they are because that means next year I can just save some seeds, I don’t have to search high and low or stress about how many seeds germinate next year. I was also really nervous about our one not so great looking plant but even though it has been growing ever so slowly it looks really healthy so hopefully we will get quite a bit from it.

 

That’s it for our short but sweet garden update! I may look into some netting for our strawberry plants but honestly I have spent my budget for gardening for the year and my kids aren’t missing them so I may not.  Hopefully it will keep the birds off of our raspberry plants.  I am excited about the possibility of baby squash to eat next week! Yum!

 

What’s happening in your garden this week?

 

 

Gardening Update June 19, 2017

Gardening Update June 19, 2017

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 […]

Gardening Update June 5th 2017

Gardening Update June 5th 2017

We had a really busy week this week with playdates for the younger kids and prom for our oldest.  There were errands to run and the one year old didn’t nap all week. Both little kids must be growing through a growth spurt because I […]

Gardening Update May 30, 2017

Gardening Update May 30, 2017

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?

 

 

 

Gardening Update May 15th 2017

Gardening Update May 15th 2017

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 […]

Gardening Update May 8th 2017

Gardening Update May 8th 2017

The weather has been cooperative so we made a huge amount of progress in the garden this week! Everything has been growing like crazy and most of the fruits are blooming which makes me very excited! My gigantic hydrangeas are almost all the way leafed […]

Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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.

 

Practicing dumping and pouring while sharing with two plastic plant containers the kids found in the garden and dirt.

 

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.

 

Split peas we didn’t use in time, spoons from the silverware drawer and tupperware from the bin.

 

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:

 

Playing with old potting soil, an empty pot and a shovel.

 

Walking around in the woods. Lots of tree roots, noises to hear and wind blowing on our faces.

 

Digging out weeds from the garden bed using a variety of scoops (shovel, cup, random sticks etc.).

 

Collecting rocks and talking about the different textures, how they sound when they bang together.

 

Carrying large rocks and banging them on things. Watch out for your toes!

 

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.

 

Legos!

 

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?

 

Gardening Update May 2, 2017

Gardening Update May 2, 2017

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 […]