Friday, April 1, 2011

Garden Challenge #1


When we acquired our home some years ago, its 1.8 acres was the ultimate granny garden.  You could barely see the house for the shrubs, and the first year was an adventure with who knows what kind of flowers popping up everywhere, randomly throughout the yard.

Since we definitely didn’t have time to keep up with the randomness, we went for something a little lower maintenance – say, lawn?  It’s about all we can do to keep the weeds lawn down to a reasonable level.

So now we have lots of THIS: 

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Last year, we attempted a temporary little vegetable garden (tomatoes, onions, and one cucumber plant) in the unfinished raised water feature right behind our house.  It wasn’t fenced in, but we were hoping its proximity to the house would deter the predator deer.  No such luck.  As soon as the tomatoes started ripening, the deer honed in.  Definitely not an economic success, that garden.

Now, this year was to be the YEAR of the vegetable garden (plan A).  We have a plot picked out back in the orchard:

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Esmé and I have a rainbow garden all planned out:

  • Red:  Strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon
  • Orange:  Carrots and cantaloupe
  • Yellow:  Bell peppers and summer squash
  • Green:  Cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, and green beans
  • Blue:  Blueberries (which Esmé insisted on even though she won’t eat them)
  • Purple:  Cabbage (and Esmé insisted we include our existing grapevine in this category)

Now the question is whether we’ll get it rototilled or fenced in.  Given that we are in a bit of a spending and acquisition moratorium while some plans get ironed out, I’m not counting on it.

So I’ve been brainstorming:  what gardening can we do with no money or significant investment of time?

I took a “state of the garden” tour to see what we currently have going for us:

Our onions are still growing!  We harvested “everything” in the fall, but the onions came back over the winter and seem to be thriving (and Esmé was excited to see “pine cones growing in our tomato cages):

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We’ve still got a few flowers popping up that we can maybe take more care of and spread out to appropriate locations:

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We spotted way too many of these spotted little cucumber guys, so we’ll need to figure out how to protect our crops…  Any suggestions?

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We’ve got our grapevines and our orchard.  Last year we got just about nothing from them, apparently due to a bad bee season, but we’re hoping for more this year.  The pear trees are just about to break out...

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So, with no money, not a lot of time, lots of lawn, and a few packets of seeds already in our possession, here’s our plan B:

1.  Seed the lawn – check!  Esmé was busy tossing grass seeds to the wind yesterday.P1030234 (2)

2.  Plant some quick-growing miniature container gardens.  We’ve got a few of these kinds of containers we can fill:

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a.  But I’m thinking even more along the lines of recycled toys, containers, baskets, etc. – things I would normally toss.  I’ll be looking at trash in a new light.

b.  We’ll start our seeds in egg cartons, which I understand are biodegradable and can be cut up and planted straight in the dirt.

c.  I love this grass seed Hill of Calvary project over at Mustard Seeds.  While buying the clay pots is outside our plan B limitations, we do have the seeds and I can round up a metal plan and a yogurt container, I think…

d.  And I found this really cool idea for planting potatoes and sweet potatoes in jars of water that I have got to try out – you can make potato heads with them once they’ve sprouted their “hair”… :)

e.  Another fun one – pumpkin pots.  We actually still have a pumpkin from fall that hasn’t decayed yet – so perhaps it will get some use now.

f.  Petunia pig is definitely on our list – set a recycled juice bottle on its side and cut a rectangular hole on the top side.  Use the lid as the nose and glue some eyes, ears, and tail on.  Fill with dirt and plant a petunia plant in the hole…

g. Fish in a bottleif our zucchini seed grows, we’ll carve a fish on a little one and stick it in a bottle (while still attached to the vine).  As it grows, the fish will turn into a whale and it’ll be stuck in the bottle.  Or so goes the plan!

h.  Garden tea parties – I want to plant some flowers in tea cups and then set up garden tea parties outside over the summer.  Is there anything sweeter than sipping nectar? :)

3.  Make lots of birds’ nests with dried grass – totally Esmé’s plan.  Maybe we can use them as planters, too?

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Check back next month to see how it’s going.  And be sure to join up over at The Homeschool Village and find more ideas for gardening with your kids…


Stef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Layton Family Joy said...

LOVE the land - beautiful!!

thanks for linking up!

Zonnah said...

You have some great ideas there! The fish in a bottle one I think I will try. Thanks for sharing.

Brimful Curiosities said...

You could always try the no-till lasagna gardening. Seems to be successful in our area. Various community plots use the technique.

ShEiLa said...

I have not met a kid that doesn't like gardening... or even planting one seed in a cup and watching it grow or sprout.

I remember planting many gardens with my Dad over the years. He loves gardening... I saw it more as a chore in my teen years. I would love it more if I lived in Oregon.

I just got back from there... and I love the Northwest!


Michelle Smith said...

Great photos of your flowers and gardening projects. We are still trying to settle on a plan for our yard. We do have an acre, but half of that is wooded, and our yard is mostly shady with lots of tree roots and rocks--plus animals visiting from the woods. We keep delaying our gardening plans while finalizing some of our summer plans and trying to figure out a workable small container or small greenhouse plan.