Tag Archives: 2011

Garden Study Update for May

The garden is doing very well during this month of May.  The weather has been beautiful here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

HSV Garden Challenge

We are participating in a Garden Challenge at the Homeschool Village.  The first month over 130 families joined in, and last month 100 families joined in.  Be sure to stop over and read their wonderful stories and gain more insight into gardening with your family.

We are also doing our own Garden Unit Study to go along with the Garden Challenge.  Our unit study learning will continue until the final harvest and the garden dies out later in the fall.

This month the children and I have continued to monitor the growth and health of the plants. The children remain motivated, and also continue to take responsibility in watering the plants each week.

We have had lots of sunshine and mid 80’s weather for most of the month, with a few scattered showers and two or three major storms.   The children enjoyed sitting on the porch and watching the storms as they came through.  A few of the storms produced tornadic weather, and a few miles from the house after this picture was taken, a tornado was spotted.

The ground is fairly dry over all, so the garden has needed water about once or twice a week.   Though there were days the younger children gave several of the plants water every day.

My daughter loves to give the plants a drink with a water bottle.  You can read more about how she enjoys watering the plants HERE.

We had a major storm about two weeks ago, that produced severe winds, heavy rain, and hail.

We had marble to a little under golf ball size hail, and I was really concerned about the damage it would do to the garden, as well as the house and vehicles.

I was hit on the arm, and the foot, by these flying torpedoes of ice when taking a picture.  It was very painful.

But just a few days after the hail storm, we reaped our first harvest from our garden beds.

We have harvested strawberries, spinach, green onions, leaf lettuce, and several herbs from the garden so far.

I have also seen some green cherry tomatoes on one of the plants too.  So far, none of the other vegetable plants have bloomed yet.

Here is a lovely plate of spinach, lettuce, strawberries, parsley, oregano, and the next photo is green onions from our garden.   I am putting all these ingredients and more together to make a special lunch today.

Read HERE to see what an awesome nutrient dense lunch these wonderful ingredients made.

We have continued to learn from our Garden Adventure Science Kit.  This kit is well worth the investment for your garden study. 

It comes with 16 experiments, a teachers guide, and student workbook, and all the equipment you need to do the experiments.  It also has additional suggestions for further study.

We have also continued to learn with our Garden Printables.    You can read about our Garden Unit Study components including the printables we are using HERE.

I have stored everything in our garden unit (except the garden and the live plants growing in the window sill) in this big tote.  It makes it easy to put the garden unit away at the end of the day.

The children have caught and observed various garden insects this month, such as worms, lady bugs, roly poly, ants, slugs, centipedes, caterpillars, spiders, and from a distance-bees.  We haven’t seen any butterflies yet, but that will come soon.  We plan to do a butterfly unit study yet this summer too.  We got some wonderful free butterfly resources a few weeks ago.  I will write about it soon.

The kids have also enjoyed watching a window sill garden grow.

We purchased these little greenhouse seed starter kits for $1 at the local Dollar store.  We added our own potting soil and the seeds that came with the kits.

I also recycled some disposable bakery trays with lids from the grocery store.  These make wonderful greenhouses to start your seeds in.  We added some potting soil and romaine lettuce seeds to the recycled tray.

This picture was taken two weeks ago and the plants were doing well.  They had grown so big we had to remove the roof of the green houses to let them have more space.

I will plan to write more in the days and weeks to come about each individual activity we did, in case you would like to follow along or repeat the Garden Unit Study with your own kids.

A garden is a fun adventure at any age!

How is your garden growing?  Leave us a comment, thanks!!!

 

This post will be linked up with
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
The Garden Challenge

 

 

 

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Garden Weed Science

We have been doing lots of different scientific garden investigations as part of our garden unit.

Today is all about observing weeds growing in our planter boxes.

This is a fun hands on opportunity to teach several plant science concepts.

We pulled two types of weeds from the planter boxes.   We saved some for a science experiment, a clump of grass and a broad leaf weed, I assumed was a young dandelion, but I did not check to make sure.  I do wish I had set out a book with pictures for the children to identify this weed.  But I forgot.

We set these weeds out on a table outside for further investigating after our weeding project was through.  If you would like to read about our weeding project, read the article posted here.

We discussed how grass in a yard is not considered a weed.  But grass in our garden is a weed.  A weed is a plant we don’t want to grow in our garden.  It competes with our other plants for nutrients, water, space, and sunshine.  So we remove weeds from the garden.

We soaked the smaller broad leaf weed in a glass of water.

Then laid the plant on a paper plate to dry a little in the sun.

Once some of the water dried from the root, we could see there was one long thick central root, with lots of small hairlike roots coming from it.

This root system was very different from the roots on the clump of grass.

Next we put the clump of grass into a bowl.  We tried to shake off as much dirt from the roots as possible.

But the dirt still clung inside the root tangle.  The roots provided a net for the dirt, and it was very hard to pull any more out.

Next, we rinsed the roots in water to remove the rest of the dirt.

This revealed a whole bunch of roots we could not see before.

After rinsing the dirt off, we took a closer look at the roots.  They were like thick hair.  Soon the children realized there was more than one grass plant in this clump.  The oldest took his tools and carefully began to separate each system of roots and plants.

He separated out 11 different grass plants with their own set of roots.  Each root system was made up of lots of long, thin roots that joined at the base of the plant, but were totally separate from each other.

He also cut a stem of grass open to see what was inside.  He described what he found inside as a thick juice, and the stem was kind of like a hollow straw.

We talked about how this juice was from water and minerals in the soil, taken up by the roots, then moves up through the stem to feed the plant.  Kind of how people drink through a straw to drink up a milk shake.  The plant is using the stem to drink up nutrition (minerals) and water.

This was a great garden investigation today.

The children learned a great deal about what weeds are, what roots look like, and their function.  They were able pull the weeds from the soil with the whole plant in tact.  Then they were able to compare the root systems from two different plants.  Finally they observed the evidence of liquid inside the plant that showed them that the roots draw in water and nutrients from the soil for the plant to live.

How do you teach your kids about weeds, plants, and roots?  Leave us a comment.  Thanks.

This post will be linked up with
The Garden Challenge
No Time For Flash  Cards
Science Sunday

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Garden Challenge Weeding Planter Boxes

Today’s garden activities included weeding this planter box, and learning about two types of plants.

In the process of today’s activities, the children are also learning about annual and perennial plants.

Annual plants last for one year or one growing season.

Perennial plants return year after year.

I asked the children to come and see what lived in this box.   They looked at each plant growing in the box.

I told them that one of plants in the box was supposed to be there and one was not.  We were going to remove the one that did not belong.

Can you find the treasure hidden amongst the grass?

They looked all around, pushing the grass to the side.  Finally they found the plants that belonged.

We quickly got to work pulling out the unwanted clumps of grass from the planter box.  Dad had seeded the yard last fall, and some of his grass seed sprayed into the planter boxes.  It grew very nicely in there over winter and this spring, but it was just about to choke out the plants that were supposed to be in the box.  So its stay was not welcome anymore.

Did you figure out the perinial plants that belonged yet?  It is strawberries.

Three years ago, we started strawberries in this box.  We rented a house and we were not supposed to touch the yard.  We missed our garden from the farm so much.  So we got these planter boxes and set them on the patio.  We grew our garden in four boxes that year.

We planted a mixture of annuals and perennial.  We had combinations of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
We had one box full of strawberries and flowers.  One full of herbs and sweet potatoes.  One with tomatoes and peppers, herbs and flowers.  And the last one had lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, herbs, and flowers.

Our garden boxes that year mostly provided us with fresh salads, culinary herbs for cooking and making fresh herb teas, gifts for neighbors, and lots of fun to care for them as we lived in a tiny little house after having just left our farm.  These boxes provided a way for us to get our hands dirty so to speak.

A year later we bought a home with a big yard and now can garden as much as we want.  But these boxes stand as a reminder of the year we made a planter box garden.  Some of the plants still return three years later, such as these strawberries.  There is also one with yarrow and some other herbs that return.  These plants that return year after year are perennials.

It is so much fun for the children to discover the world around them.  Here my eight year old son is pulling the weeds from around the strawberry plants.

We saved some of the weeds we pulled from the boxes for a science experiment.  We examined the plants, shook off the excess soil from the roots, rinsed the roots in water, and took a close look at them.  Our science experiment using these weeds will be posted here.

We will show you how the finished boxes look in a story posted here.

After weeding, we turned the dirt in the boxes.  Next we topped off the existing soil with a little more dirt.  Then we re-planted several of the boxes with more annuals and perennials.  They look beautiful and the children are so pleased with their accomplishments.

One box remained for strawberries and flowers.  Two boxes are full of herbs, lettuce, and flowers.  And one other box is full of flowers.   These will be lovely all summer long.  The box in the bottom of the picture is full of pansy’s planted by my three year old daughter.  She was so proud of “her” box.  The box that is just above the bottom box has a large yarrow plant that you can see on one side in this picture.  It is now three years old and looks lovely.

Do you have any plants that return each year?  What ways have you taught your kids about annual plants and perennial plants?   Please leave us a comment.  Thanks.

This post will be linked up with
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
The Garden Challenge
The Handbook Of Nature Study
We Play

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Garden Challenge and Preschool Printables

Have you wanted a fun way to teach Gardening to your kids?  Maybe you would like to learn more about it yourself?  Come along and join us on a garden adventure to learn about how to grow a garden.

HSV Garden Challenge

You might be surprised to learn that you don’t have to live on a farm to have a garden.    There are lots of places we can grow things.  You can have a garden right on your window sill.  If you only have a patio or balcony, you can grow garden plants right in flower pots.  If you have a small yard, you can grow a few plants in a spot out in the open, or choose a more hidden location near a building.  If you really have a knack and desire for gardening though, you can really get creative and grow plants all over the place.  I have seen folks grow cucumbers around their mailbox even!

If you don’t have room for a garden, a fun thing to do with your kids is to join a CSA and visit the farm and see how the produce is grown and harvested.  Usually a CSA will have a box of produce for you to pick up every week of the growing season.  This would be great exposure for the children to see how the garden changes and what it produces as the season goes along, not to mention the delicious produce you will have to use for the week.  If you would like to know more about CSA’s in your local area, check the Local Harvest website at
http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

I love to garden!  For many years, (most of them before the past five years) my life revolved around my gardens.  From planning in the winter, to prepping, planting, weeding, and caring during the spring and early summer to bountiful harvests in the summer and fall.  Top it off with canning, dehydrating, growing in a hoop house or on the window sill in winter, sprouting, and gift giving, and your gardening can be year around pleasure.

But moving away from my farm, renting a house where the yard was off limits (no kidding you could use the house but the “association” owns the yard, that was a bad choice for a country girl like me to live) , and gardening while pregnant, and with toddlers, then buying a house where the yard is pure red clay and doesn’t want to grow anything green, I have been faced with a wide range of challenges.

Today’s post is about including my kids in planning a garden and learning about gardens for this year’s growing season.  My childrens ages are 2, 3, 6, 8, and 10.  We will be reading books, reviewing some videos, using seed catalogs, preparing our garden plans, prepping our garden boxes, planting, tending and watering, and hopefully harvesting something this year.

In addition to the above mentioned activities, we have lots of other activities planned.

For my younger children, we will also do some fun preschool type activities.  We plan to make a garden
activity bin, printables, role playing, and more.

For my older children, we will apply some hands on science in this learning adventure.   I will post
website links for you in upcoming articles as they are posted.   We have a garden adventure science kit
too that helps point out specific science lessons related to gardening.  Most of these you will be able to
repeat yourself with out the science kit.  So stay tuned and we will show you step by step what we are
doing.

Here are just a few of the supplies I have been gathering up that we will be using.

We are joining up with a fun learning adventure at the Homeschool Village.  Lots of families will be linking up once a month to share what they have been doing and learning during the month that relates to gardens.   This challenge will run from March through July.

Please join us too!  The garden challenge is open to everyone.  No garden necessary!  You can grow in a container on the window sill if need by.  Don’t worry about it.   The point is to have fun learning something knew about growing things.  What better way to get your kids involved in some fun learning adventures and possibly grow something yummy to enjoy in the process.

Find all the details about the Garden Challenge and the link ups at the Homeschool Village website:

http://www.thehomeschoolvillage.com/2011/03/hsv-garden-challenge-qa.html

Want some fun printables to do with your tots, prek, and kindergarten learners with a garden theme?

Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations has some wonderful free printables, and a garden learning unit, that go along with this learning adventure just perfectly!  Click here for the printables:

Garden Preschool Printables Pack

Itsy Bitsy Learners has also made a Printable Garden Pack.

We acquired these planting boxes to sit on top of our red clay yard.  The yard is so hard, it doesn’t even want to grow grass, though a few patches have managed to grow.  The children had fun helping me follow the directions to assemble our boxes.  We got some in black, and some in green that can hold a netting or cloth over the top if needed.

 
 

Then we added our top soil, sand, compost, and lime to fill our boxes with a growing medium, that hopefully is better suited than our red clay for growing a garden.

Stay tuned for more gardening adventures with Weiser Academy!!!


This post will be linked up at
Science Sunday
Link and Learn
We Play
Homeschool Village
 

 

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