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.


3 Activities for Earth Day 2014

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In our homeschool, we celebrated Earth Day this year with three activities:

1. Trash pick-up around our neighborhood.

It rained on April 22, so we could not pick up trash in our neighborhood. We did it today, two days later, after the ditches dried up. The kids love to get into the ditches to pick up trash and I would prefer not to have to clean up muddy boots. Boy and girl pick up trash in a ditch

We filled up five shopping bags or 13 gallons worth of bottles, cans, plastic pieces, Styrofoam cups, Subway sandwich wrappers, candy bags and bits of papers. Some paper was pink, which delighted my daughter, who loves all things pink. Pink trash!

Boy and girl with 13 gallons of trash they picked up for Earth Day

One would think we live in a trashy neighborhood, but we don’t. Most trash was around overnight rentals, which are about six homes down from our house.

2. Coloring a Crayola page with an Earth Day theme.

We talked about the Earth being a gift from God, its Creator. I gave them envelops with their names on them, which contained a picture of the Earth. I told them God gave the Earth to them and all of us as a gift, so we can enjoy the plants and animals and air and mountains and seas. As such, we should take good care of it. It’s called stewardship.

The envelop idea came from Horizons Preschool, a curriculum I am loosely working through with my daughter. The whole thing went along nicely with our Apologia worldview curriculum called “What On Earth Can I Do?” – review coming up in May, by the way.

3. Planting an AeroGarden.

Somebody gave us this amazing contraption about a year ago. I kept it in the garage, thinking I would start this indoor water garden during the long winter months. Well, I never got around to it. I almost gave it away at one point.

We finally put it together and it’s looking good. Some of the seeds are already germinating. We can see them through the domes. It turns itself on for 16 hours and it shuts off for eight hours. A light comes on when I need to add water. Another light comes on when I need to add nutrients. For city girls like me, this is the perfect garden.

Speaking of gardens, we need to re-plant our small veggie patch. Two days after we planted our tomatoes and peppers, we got hail and snow. Even though I covered them, they shriveled up and died. If that’s not a metaphor for putting children out of their homes at an early age, when they are not yet prepared to face cold shoulders, teasing, competition, bullies and all the other harsh realities of a school setting.

Pepper plant shriveled up because of snow

Yes, everything brings me back to homeschooling.

By the way, my kids loved picking up trash and my son said he would like to do it every day. That’s probably because I told them that every day is Earth Day. Every day is our birthday. Being alive is a privilege worth celebrating. I told him we could plan on a weekly trash pick up around our neighborhood.

Isn’t homeschooling wonderful? We get to change events based on the weather without having to fill out paper work.