Update on Our Garden

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This year, we planted a small garden rather late in the season. Better late than never, right? We looked at it every day and plucked little weeds out before they ate up precious nutrients from the soil. We watered it and rejoiced when we got rain, because that meant we did not have to haul out the hose.

Small garden

Our harvested lettuce has almost gone to seed.

Then, the greatest moment came: harvesting lettuce leaves. For the first time, we had lettuce to harvest. Such a treat! We just walked out onto the patio with a bowl and plucked some leaves. We were having company, so we needed a lot of it. I read somewhere that you can actually harvest lettuce three times before it goes to seed, but I do not know if I am that lucky. We did plant a little late in the season. Continue reading »

For sure, we will be able to harvest one more time. It’s just a neat experience to be able to harvest lettuce from the patio pots and I thought I would share it with you. I do not have a green thumb and do not find gardening relaxing. A lot of people do and they do it for pleasure. I do it because I know it is good for us.

We just have so many mosquitoes, they make it really tough for us to be outside for long periods of time. No matter how much I hide under long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat, I still get bitten at least once while I am out gardening. Not fun.

But here’s the connection with homeschooling. Somebody once said that gardening is the ABC of education. Just think about the parallels between gardening and bringing knowledge to children. Let’s start with the soil preparation. The mind of children is a ready ground for learning. But if you crowd it with rapidly moving TV programs or video games, they will not be able to slow down and pick up new information from a book or a workbook.

Then, weeds are always at the ready. In the same way, worthless information, shows, and books abound. They crowd out the precious plants of true knowledge, realistic scenarios, and worthwhile lessons. I am still learning how to weed out certain activities which do not align with the overall goals of our homeschool.

Just as you can never say you are done weeding, you can never put your vigilance aside about your children’s education and recreational choices. Personally, I know I have to come up higher in our choices and am constantly praying for wisdom.


Planting A Garden

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We try to plant a small garden every year so the children can spend time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Also, so that they may receive the wonderful benefits of useful manual labor. Apparently, the frontal lobe improves as we use our hands to do something productive, as we manipulate tools and build things or rake, hoe and weed etc. It’s been documented by brain researchers.

Boy and girl planting a garden

The kids planted a garden the other day

Gardening teaches many skills. Children are naturally impatient and growing a garden takes some patience. Caring for something outside of yourself also teaches children responsibility. Having to water even when you don’t feel like it helps children mature and build habits of usefulness, of choosing duty over moods. Continue reading »

As they learn to protect their garden from rabbits and other animals or insects, they see the entitlement mentality at work. “Oh, the humans have planted juicy lettuce! Let’s go eat it!” We have fun putting words into the mouths of animals and insects, but I also show them how it is not fair for people who do not work to claim what does not belong to them. If you do not work, you should not eat, says the Bible.

Last but not least, gardening teaches children about how hard food gets produced in the real world. Farmers are heroes in my book. My mother grew up on a farm and this was in Communist Romania in the 50s and 60s – not much in the way of mechanized tools. She has always told me stories about how difficult it was to hoe an entire row in the vineyard or to harvest corn by hand. I do not take food for granted because of her stories.

My children love working outside in the garden – for now. The day will come when they will be bored by it – about three weeks from now, if not sooner. When that day comes, I will have to remind them of the fruit of their labor, which we will consume in another three weeks after that. They need to work and look forward to their glorious results.

Gardening for me is more about teaching character than about saving money by raising our own crops. We do not plant enough to save money on groceries. We plant just enough to let the kids play in the dirt and get some veggies they can be proud of – that’s about it.

This year, they have their own garden. Besides some random pots, where I grow things like basil, cilantro, and mint for the kitchen, we have a 4’x12′ plot which we have divided in two. The left side belongs to my daughter, because she is left handed. The right side belongs to my son, because he is right handed. They came up with this division themselves.

We went to Lowe’s and picked up some plants – whatever they wanted, plus flowers to help with pollination. Then we planted them and watered them. It was fun and the fun will continue through the summer and fall months.


Wonderful Wednesday – Veggie Garden Update

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I have a small garden where I play “Farmer.” It’s only 4’x8′ and I don’t expect to feed my family from it. But if we can get some veggies every year while the children experience the cycle of sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting, I am happy.

This year, we already learned some lessons from it. Now, I’m back with an update.  Continue reading »

It has been raining almost every day for the past three weeks. I have not had to water my garden. Yeah!

I did have to clean up after our cat, who had been using our garden patch as a litter box. Yuck!

My husband came up with a solution: plastic fencing that can be wrapped around the four poles of the garden bed. I knew those poles would come in handy one day…

So here’s my veggie garden in full swing, with the new fencing around it.

Veggie Garden - Summer

My small garden is producing a lot this year.

 

Our one and only blackberry bush

Blackberry bush - almost ripe

We picked about 15 blackberries today and, from the looks of it, we will have more

 

Our one and only grape vine

Green grapes on the vine

This would be the first year we would enjoy grapes from our backyard

 

One of our blueberry bushes

Green Blueberries

We always get lots and lots of blueberries

 

A baby cucumber

Tiny cucumber

I showed this baby cucumber to my son. He touched it, got hurt and blurted, “It’s prickly!” all before I could warn him.

 

Tiny tomatoes

Green tomatoes on the plant

It looks like we will get some tomatoes this year.

 

Tiny peppers

Tiny green peppers on the plant

We love green peppers and grow them every year. They are so sweet compared to grocery store peppers.

 

These pictures are quite the metaphor for children. Growing, developing, not yet fully matured, but perfect in every way. And cute.


Wonderful Wednesday – Planting a Veggie Garden

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Every spring, I buy some vegetable plants and start another garden in my 4’x8′ enclosed patch in the backyard. The whole thing started when my son was one. I felt inspired to teach him where foods come from. He is six years old now.

I have learned a thing or two every year from working in the garden. About gardening and, also, about my own character. Lately, about homeschooling, too.

This year, I have already gleaned two lessons:

1. Don’t (trans)plant too early. We planted our veggie garden in mid-April. A week later, hail and snow killed it, even though we covered it with a sheet. When it’s cold, it’s cold.  Continue reading »

Plus, the rule of thumb is, plant outside after Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May). But we got in a rush…

Children are like plants. You take children out of the warmth of their home and they freeze up in the cold of school buildings.

Pepper plant shriveled up in my first garden this year, after hail and snow damage

Pepper plant shriveled up in my first garden this year, after hail and snow damage

If you don’t wait until they have had all the mothering needed, well, you will suffer some consequences. Wait for Mother’s Day – the symbol of nurturing.

I have had several parents tell me how their warm and bubbly five-year-old child went to kindergarten and became a cold, withdrawn person as the weeks went on.

Everybody is asking, “What about socialization?” from us homeschoolers. I think we should ask these same people the same question about their children, who meander the jungle of social interactions all alone, for seven hours a day, five days a week. No wonder children are exhausted by the time they come home. No wonder so many of them become peer-dependent. No wonder the family unit has become a joke in most cultures these days.

2. Don’t water inappropriately (while the sun is still shining). The day we re-planted the garden, at the end of May, I watered. It was around 5pm. I thought it would be late enough in the day. It was not. The sun was still shining and it was 77F. A lot of the leaves got burned by the sun, due to the magnifying effect of water on the leaves.

In my rush to get the project done and checked off my list, I forgot to take into consideration the conditions I was working with.

How do I apply this to homeschooling? Well, in our zeal to make our children Ivy League-ready, we might teach them too much, too soon. Absolutely we must quench their thirst for knowledge. Sure, we must challenge them. But too much knowledge, too many demands, too early will lead to burnout.

Vegetable garden in a small enclosed area

My second garden this year.

I have trimmed the burnt leaves. Many of the plants seem to be doing fine, but some will be lost or not produce as much. The same goes for children who get burned out with too many worksheets.

In case you are wondering, I planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and watermelon.

Here’s hoping that my garden will survive and thrive.