Archive for ‘Children’s Garden’

September 17, 2013

Urban Farm September Update

I checked my blog today to see when I last posted about my Urban Farm project.

June?  No!  I must have posted something since then, I thought to myself.  I surfed a little and realized that sure enough, the last you heard I planted 40 straw bales in my front yard.

Well, shame on me!  I do give myself a little slack because I have at least been posting periodical photos on Facebook.  If you want to catch up a little of what’s happened between June and now, be sure to checkout the Walnuts n Pears Facebook page.  While you’re there make sure and “Like” my page (if you haven’t already) and you can keep up with events, postings and photos of all that’s going on.

So… Let’s doing a little catching up, shall we?

Last you saw, my yard looked like this:


With this innovative raised bed from Organic Bob.


Well, seeds got started, transplants got planted, it rained for forty days and forty nights and then we went into a six week drought.  I fought aphids on eggplant, squash vine borer on zucchini and some evil critter on the watermelon.  Despite the challenges the garden or farm, rather, started to look like this:



And I harvested and harvested… and now it looks like this:




But it’s kind of hard to see what’s going on from this angle, so let’s go on a virtual tour, shall we?

The June-bearing strawberries are done, but spreading quite nicely.  The late Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) is just getting ready to bloom and some Romaine lettuce is making a return.



Brussel sprouts have taken a spill because the bales have decomposed enough that they can no longer support their weight, but they aren’t damaged, so they should keep growing (I may try staking tomorrow).  They still have some maturing to do, but I can hardly wait for a few hard frosts to bring them to the table.  Redbor Kale is continuing to produce but the Romanesco Broccoli has yet to form a head (bummer)!



Up next we have the second set of Brassica family plants with more Brussel Sprouts on the left, Arugula in the middle and Cabbage tipping off to the right side.  In the lower right corner you can spot one of our two Pumpkins.



Russian Kale in the foreground, not to be forgotten!  My favorite kale is still producing nicely.



Cabbage up close and personal.



I decided to make the raised bed the Children’s Garden this year.  My son and his friend planted, cared for and harvested from this bed this summer.  I helped seed the sides, but with the drought and intermittent watering they lost a number of the seedlings.  No hard feelings on their part though, they had plenty to harvest from their garden this summer including tons of Sun Sugar Cherry Tomatoes, Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries, some beautiful Zucchini, Sugar Snap Peas (which you can see in the dried format on the right side for saving seed for next year), peppers, radishes and their Ring of Fire Sunflowers were gorgeous!  Okay, you can’t tell here because now they are just seed heads…



… but THIS is what they looked like the majority of the summer.



On to the squash and melons… This bed is where most of my frustrations came from this summer.  It started with squash vine borers attacking the Zucchini.  I did some “surgery” slicing into the vine and mutilating the buggers with a knife which allowed the plant to continue producing, but it was never quite the same.  Next, some dirty little rats, squirrels or rabbits severed all of the watermelon plants leaving me with next to nothing.  Lucky for them I never caught them in the act!  Finally, we have more squash vine borers attacking, hence the sickly, wilty leaves, but since it’s so late in the season I’m choosing not to battle them because I’ve already harvested quite a bit of squash.  Oh, and Cantaloupe!  Well, so far the score is 1-1 Rodentia vs. Us but the one we had was wonderful!



The other Pumpkin.



Up next: Swiss Chard, Globe Artichoke and Celeriac… along with some migratory squash.


Sadly, one-by-one over the past few days, my Globe Artichoke were decapitated and left for dead.  This was pretty disappointing because Globe Artichoke is a perennial here in Minnesota and it’s the first year I’ve grown it so I was pretty excited to have it be a part of my garden.  I still have a lingering hope that the root, still in place to my knowledge, may still produce some leaves and try to survive.  It’s a stretch, but you never know.



This set of bales was interesting.  They get far more shade than the rest, they were last to heat up during the “conditioning” process, but also spiked up to 140 degrees.  I had to wait longer to plant them because they retained the heat as well.  The Lettuce is long gone (except for the couple I’m allowing to go to seed), Carrots are still doing well and the pickling cucumbers are still going strong.  If I counted correctly I should have quite a few ready in the next few days.  I’m trying to decide what to do with this set next year.  There isn’t enough sun for the majority of crops so it may have to begin a crop rotation of its own of part-sun crops.



And finally, Tomato Alley!

Home to about 13 different varieties of tomatoes, half a dozen or so peppers, a few varieties of eggplant and bunches and bunches of basil.



I almost forgot!  Another Cantaloupe, hanging out under the crib-rail trellis on the backside of the squash bales.  Not too much longer and I’ll be racing the critters for the harvest.



Well, that completes the tour for today.  I think it has progressed nicely, don’t you?

Oh, and in other news, I had my final walk-through evaluation two weeks ago and assuming things continue to go well I should be a certified Urban Farmer in a couple of weeks!


April 13, 2012

K is for Kids in the Garden

Of all the things that I love about gardening, I’d have to say that kids are pretty much my favorite part.

They are inquisitive and aren’t afraid to ask questions.

They get into it, and by that I mean, no holds barred, they get down and dirty and really get into it.

They get grossed out.

They love bugs.

They dig worms.

They are thoroughly amazed to see what you can get out of a garden.

They are impressed with the life cycle of a seed and how incredible it is that we can grow plants that we can eat from them.  Shouldn’t we all be?  It truly is incredible!

They are filled with awe.

Even if they don’t like the act of gardening they usually like the act of eating something from the garden.

They are fun.

They make me look at all of life through their eyes.

So if you have a garden, think about sharing it with a kid.  You just might learn something. 🙂


February 9, 2012

Fairy Gardens

Fairies.  There’s something magical, mysterious about fairies, or at least that’s what I think now.  My earliest memories of fairies were of the Tooth Fairy and Tinkerbell.  Although I knew the Tooth Fairy brought money for my teeth, which was exciting, it was also a little creepy.  How did she know that I lost a tooth?  How did she get into our house?  And my room!?! How did she know where I put it?  What if she was short on her allotment of teeth for the month and needed more?  Could she just snatch an extra while I was sleeping?  And what the heck did she do with all those teeth anyway?  And then there was Tinkerbell, she was a little creepy too.  Or maybe it was the essence of Captain Hook that clouded my memory, making me want nothing to do with her.



Okay, so my memories of fairies as a child we’re all that fanciful.  And honestly, I don’t think that changed until I met Twig at the Renaissance Festival a number of years ago.  A friend of mine and I brought our kids to the “Ren Fest”.  As we wandered the grounds chatting and laughing we saw a small crowd of people gathered around something, or rather someone, on the ground.  Twig, a woodland fairy, was sitting, perched, playing her flute and flirting with children and adults alike.  She was beautiful.  Her hair, her eyes, the sparkle that seemed to hover around her.  And while she didn’t speak a word, the way she played the flute was memorizing.  The kids stood, as if in a trance, not taking their eyes off of her.  And then she would put her hand into the little pouch that hung so gracefully from her shoulders, and from it she would take a small stone and place it ever so gently into each child’s hand.  The children would close their fingers tightly, hanging on to their stones until they would finally turn, slightly dazed and go back to their parents to show them what they got.  Each child unfurled their little fingers to reveal a magical stone covered in fairy dust.  I fell in love.  While I knew in my grown-up mind that Twig could be easily be a friend or relative playing the role of a fairy, there was something magical about her.  I went traveling back oh, so many years to become that little girl again who believed in fantasy.  This time instead of being creepy, it was dreamy, more like my visions of princesses, only with wings.  It felt amazing.  Every year since, I seek out Twig to catch another glimpse of that magic.

I’m not sure if it was before or after my first encounter with Twig that I discovered Fairy Gardens, but the timing was pretty close.  I remember being in Bachman’s, a garden center in the area, and seeing a little wooden box.  In it stood a miniature world.  A pebble pathway meandered through tiny plants blooming the smallest flowers I’ve ever seen in my life.  The path led to a miniature bench.  Beside it stood a tiny bird bath, a wheel barrow and a couple of tiny pots tipped over on the ground.  The whole area was surrounded by a little picket fence.  Amazing.  Some genius had just transformed what I formerly knew to be called “Alpine Plants”  (which frankly I had no interest in) into something I suddenly became extremely interested in: Fairy Garden plants.  All of a sudden I had to have them, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Actually, I’ve had a couple of rounds of Fairy Gardens at my house.  Both have died due to neglect.  I tend to get a little busy in the summer months and although Fairy Gardens don’t require any more maintenance than other plants, they simply were forgotten about during the busy outdoor garden season.  This doesn’t stop me of course.  I’m about to plant up another one.  I’ve had a lot of inspiration over the past few months to get it going again.  My son made a fairy house out of a tree stump at the Arboretum this past summer fully furnished with a twig ladder, branch furniture and crab apples on the wooden dinner plates. Another garden center I frequent, Uncommon Gardens, had an amazing little Fairy Garden this summer on a little larger scale.  It was planted up in a raised cedar garden planter elevated off the ground.  It even had a little stone cottage, I could just envision the fairies coming out of their little cottage when we weren’t looking and tending to their tiny gardens…

Fairy Garden

And then the Arboretum again, I never cease to find something of interest there!  While attending another function last week, I took a few extra minutes to visit the Tiny Treasures: Fairy Gardens and Gnomes display.  Oh, what inspiration!  More little gardens, more little houses. It must have been obvious that I was enchanted because while we were visiting the gift shop later and I happened upon a Fairy Garden book, filled with more Fairy House inspiration entitled “Fairy Houses and Beyond!” and my dad was kind enough get it for me.  I can’t wait to get started!  If you’re thinking about starting one of your own Tonkadale Nursery put together a nice gallery of Fairy Gardens as well as a step-by-step to get you started.  You can find more info on their Fairy Garden page.

One of the things I love about Fairy Gardens is that they are perfect for kids.  If you’ve ever wanted to have a children’s garden and didn’t know where to start, Fairy Gardens are a perfect.  They are kid-sized.  They have small plants, small benches, small worlds for their imaginations to run wild in.  We’ve had mysterious and magical things happen in our Fairy Gardens at home.  Gates left open, pots and wheelbarrows moved, all sorts of things… you never know what you might find when you have a Fairy Garden!

Even if you don’t have kids, but you’re still a kid at heart, Fairy Gardens can be quite fun.  The scale of them makes it easy to incorporate bonsai trees into as well.   Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to have a small place of wonder to visit and escape from reality.

So with that, I blow a little bit of fairy dust on each of you and hope that even if you aren’t as enchanted as I am, I hope you’re at least “a little” amused.  🙂


June 14, 2011

Children’s garden harvest and edible weed #1

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that teaching my son about plants, gardening, cooking and the environment is very important to me.

In addition to helping out in the garden at home, he also has a 4′ x 16′ garden that he shares with a buddy at the MN Landscape Arboretum as part of the Seed Sowers (children’s garden) summer program.  The group has had two weekend planting days prior to today, one in late May and one in early June.  Today was the first day of the weekly program where they tend to their garden by watering, weeding, harvesting and cooking.

Since Grandma brought him to and from the Arboretum today, I was anxious to hear how it went and what he did.  He came busting in the door, so proud to tell me all about his day.  He had been very busy watering, weeding, making his own hummus with “beans, garlic, lemon juice and goosefoot”.  Plus he brought a bag home with a head of lettuce and a radish!

His garden harvest made a nice addition to the Quinoa Risotto with carrots and sugar snap peas we had for dinner and was he ever proud to put the salad on the table!

As he was telling me about his day, I decided to ask a little more about goosefoot.  “Goosefoot?” I asked.  “Yep, goosefoot, mom.  It’s a weed we can eat.” he explained.  (Since Seed Sowers planting day #2, he’s been on the search for goosefoot in our garden as well).  “We put it on top of our hummus.”

Not knowing a lot about goosefoot, I did a little internet research tonight so I know what to look for in our garden.  While researching, I found that goosefoot is indeed edible and very nutritious, another interesting tidbit… goosefoot and quinoa (that we coincidentally had for dinner) come from the same plant.  So, now I know, and if you didn’t before, now you know too!

Happy harvest from a proud mom!