April 26, 2010

Tucking my plants in at night

It's been cold several nights this past week!  So for my square foot garden, I've been tucking my plants in at night with a nice warm blanket.  I'm most concerned about my strawberries, as it's not good weather for them.  Everything else can probably survive the cold.  I'm not seeing any sprouts of carrots, lettuce or spinach though.  If nothing comes up in the next couple weeks, I will replant.  I'm seeing more onion sets sprouting above ground.  I'm hoping for a warming trend as this next week progresses.

I was surprised to see several more snow pea plants popping up in my row in my conventional garden!  I counted 17 plants in the row today.  My potatoes are showing signs of life as well with tiny greens emerging.  True that Colorado may have a late start to the growing season, but I'm trying to push the limits in hopes of some good results.

And have I mentioned my tomato plants in my square foot pots?  They are growing quickly, though they reside in my dining room most of the time lately.  (As I type this, I'm sitting right next to them.)  I put them out for sunshine a couple hours a day.  When it quits freezing at night, I'll harden them off, and leave them outside permanently on my patio, which gets a ton of sunshine.  There are tons of blossoms on these, and a few tiny tomatoes forming.  I love tomatoes!

April 19, 2010


For kindergarten and first grade, I have taught using various resources, compiled by me, using guidelines for each grade's suggested scope and sequence, and been rather eclectic with my homeschooling.  This year, however, I am using a pre-planned packaged curriculum from Sonlight.  I was hoping that having everything scheduled and planned for me would save me time and the stress of wondering if I'm teaching enough or the right things.  It has gone well!  It's so much easier to know exactly what we will have to cover each day, and be able to check it off as we go, and know when we are completely done with school.

I am learning a lot myself, as I read the chapters in the history books to my 2nd grader, and as we learn about world religions and pray for them.  One favorite fictional story was called "Red Sails to Capri".  My daughter also read "More Stories from Grandma's Attic" to herself, one or two chapters a day, and I had follow-up questions and sometimes activities that go along with it.  Science has covered everything from animals and plants, to engines and batteries.  I am learning new things myself.  For example, did you know there is a type of bat that eats fish?  Our 2nd grader also is doing handwriting (cursive) and math.  We took 6 weeks to memorize Psalm 24, one verse each week, and have a song that goes along with it.  We also have songs that teach us geography.

I have to say I am pleased with my purchase of the curriculum.  It takes a lot of the worry out of meeting standards, and a lot of the time out of planning.  I can relax and just teach, and observe as my daughter learns.  I even have time while she works on independent assignments to work with my preschool daughters.

I know there are hundreds of curriculum options I could choose from.  I chose Sonlight because I have several friends who were using it who seem to have well-educated children, and because I liked the idea of reading a lot to my children, especially because the younger ones can learn along with my oldest.

Garden Progress

I've made a few changes this week with my square foot garden.  I bought some strawberry plants and broccoli plants and put them in.  You can put 4 strawberry plants in a square foot, and one broccoli.  The other three broccoli plants are in my conventional garden plot on the North end of my backyard (picture 2).  You also see some 1/2" PVC pipes that I've criss-crossed, and connected at the cross with a zip tie to form a frame so I can cover it with either heavy plastic (a painting drop cloth) to protect from hail or high winds, or a blanket to protect with frost.  Since we had one freezing night last week, I had to use my blanket!  Also, last night we had a nice rain shower, so I collected the water from my downspout, and filled my 5 gallon bucket.  Sun-warmed rainwater is supposed to be best for your plants.  You also can see five of my onion sets have sprouted!  I planted 11 more, since you can fit 16 onions in a square foot.  They'll probably sprout in a couple weeks.  Two squares, where I have spinach and lettuce seeds, are covered with thin plastic (and rocks to keep it from blowing away) to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout.

Here is my conventional garden.  Three broccoli plants are next to six potatoes I put in the ground.  A stick marks each place I put one in, topped with some extra cut up potato that I figure wouldn't hurt as extra fertilizer.

My conventional garden is an experiment.  I have never worked with such clay-like soil.  This plot has been topped with a couple inches of compost, brought in when we had our yard professionally landscaped.  I have spaded up about 1/4 of the small garden space.  I'll get to the rest when I have the time and energy!

Here is an area I was so anxious to plant before it occurred to me that perhaps I should spade up the soil first.  I just made a row with the hoe, and put in the seeds.  I have about 6 snow pea seeds that have sprouted in this row you can sort of see (one close up, and the others down the row).  This part of my garden gets the most shade, so I don't have high hopes for it.

April 12, 2010

Square Foot Gardening

This year I finally have a chance to try square foot gardening!  A couple of friends of mine did them last Summer, and I really didn't have the yard for it.  We've since moved, and have the yard, the resources, and the time to give it a try ourselves!  I checked out the book "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholemew from the library.  I also found this website http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/ through an online search, which is a blog that documents one person's experience with her garden, as well as many resources she's developed to plan and organize everything, and lots of input from blog readers.

Some of the benefits to square foot gardening are that there is good soil because you make your own raised bed filled with "Mel's mix", there are fewer weeds and bug problems, and you can grow more plants in a small space.

Now my yard only has a small garden space where not much sun shines, so my solution was to have a square foot garden box put on my rock area where it will get full sun.  It's built out of scrap lumber we had in the shed.  My husband and I built it from the directions in the square foot garden book.

I built a trellis for it from the book's directions as well, and also purchased PVC pipes for a frame to cover my garden with a sheet of plastic (painting drop cloth) when it hails, which in Colorado, it does frequently in the Summer.

So far I have planted onion sets, lettuce, spinach, carrots and snow peas from seed, and transplanted broccoli, and strawberries (not shown).  I have green pepper plants started indoors that will go in the box later, as well as a melon plant which can climb the trellis after the snow peas are finished.

I'm working with my small garden plot on the North end of my yard also, but it's soil is clay with some compost mixed in, and, as I mentioned, it doesn't get as much sun, since it's near some evergreens, our shed, and our back fence.  I'm hopeful it will produce something.  I'm not investing much cost into it, so it's an experimental year.  I am making compost in a bin also, which I'll work into the garden plot as it's ready.

It's not too late or too hard to put together your own garden!  I recommend checking out the resources mentioned above for how you can get one started.  I hope to post occasional updates on my garden's progress through the Spring and Summer.