It’s a dreary day at this semi-suburban homeschooling homestead. The rain is pouring down so fast that it has created a fast-moving creek down our street. Today we are supposed to volunteer at a football and cheerleading camp, but our van won’t start. It’s times like this when it helps to think on what is lovely. And what is lovely right now happens to be gardening.
Thinking on gardening, our children’s homework from March through May was to observe our backyard to see where their garden would grow best. They would peer out the back windows every few days for weeks to assess the amount of light in each potential spot. A few reminders have helped them to check at different times of the day since, as I reminded them of their astronomy lessons, depending on the Sun’s position in the sky and the shadows cast by our home and the trees the amount of light changes throughout the day. Now we could have gone high-tech with a light meter or even a cool multimeter tool, but for us low tech seems to be just fine. I’m thinking that it keeps the excitement going and helps with developing observation skills. Another way that we may try is to utilize a light meter next year so we can compare our subjective observations to a numerical measurement. Assuming the measurement is right, we could learn to calibrate or adjust our guesses to be more accurate in the future.
Come May the children had a good idea of where their garden would go and we would have planted it then, if we had all of our materials. Thankfully, we didn’t because after Mother’s Day we were hit with freezing temperatures and snow for the next two weeks. One Sunday, literally in the span of just one hour I witnessed rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Anything that had been planted outside either froze or was beaten to death. So while we waited for the all clear from the meteorologists, we utilized the extra time to plan our garden a bit more. For their garden our children wanted:
- Carrots (We had Kaleidescopes, and Baby)
- Corn (A heavy feeder, therefore not suitable for our garden)
- Tomatoes (A few weeks earlier we started the Matinas, Brandywine, and Sweeties)
- Onions (Some sites said you could grow them from the store bulbs, others said no. We have two that grew in our root drawer so we’re going to try that and see how it works.)
- Asparagus (This is a perennial and would take up more space than we currently have.)
- Garlic ( I was looking forward to trying garlic this year, I was set to order the Georgian Fire and Georgian Crystal but Murphy hit and so, we’ll wait till next time.)
- Bell Peppers (We already had a seed packet for the Cal Wonder Red Pepper, but it is old so we’ll see how it goes. We may have to buy a seedling.)
- Artichoke (This is a perennial, I’m looking forward to this one in the next two years!)
- Squash ( We already had Zucchini and Yellow Squash seeds, The winter squashes need to be planted at the same time as the summer squash, which would result in a lot of space taken.)
- Potatoes (This is one thing that we would really like to grow but we need to do more research to ensure that we will do it right, so not for this year.)
- Strawberries (These we purchased at our local garden center. Cool kid fact: Did you know strawberries grew on two-year cycles? Plus they’re perennials.)
The rest of these my husband and I decided that we would try next year since we have a lot to do outside in order to get space for them and still keep a play area for the kids.)
- Mint (Sleepy Giant found a lush mint plant at the garden center, which he quickly harvested day after day to make mint tea, his favorite. So right now the mint plant is sort of scrawny looking.)
- Parsley (We have the seeds, but I would like to keep it in a container so that we can bring it inside the kitchen during the colder months. So we are working on a container solution.)
- Sunflowers (We planted those two weeks ago after finding a seed packet in our local health food store. They are just starting to pop up although one of them isn’t doing so well yet. 🙁 )
Right now their garden is half full with some of the easiest plants to grow, lettuce and sunflowers. We need to place more seeds or seedlings in there but we haven’t decided yet. It will probably be more carrots or even winter squash, but we will see very soon since we have a short growing season. And because they wanted to grow so much, we spread some plants out into the rest of the garden beds that Chad and I take care of (three) which are mostly full as well with string beans, peas, okra, banana pepper, tomatoes, watermelon, squash (spaghetti, yellow, and zucchini), strawberries (which aren’t doing too hot this year) and marigolds. We may have Sleepy and Roly help us make a trellis for the Squashes, peas and string beans to include some basic measuring and building skills.