Thursday, September 20, 2007

Container Gardening with Kids

We had our first 4-H meeting of the year this week and invited Tom Wichman to be the guest speaker. He's our state Master Gardener coordinator and always does great presentations with the kids. We did container gardening with dianthus flowers. It was great - the project was easy and the kids got to take home something that was ready to go. If you've got kids at home, container gardening is an easy and immediate project.

Tom's giving an overview of plants here.

One of our older members was a big help showing the younger ones how to plant.

All the kids with their finished container gardens.

Originally, we had wanted to do pineapple plant containers with the kids. Normally, we go to the local grocery store and ask the produce manager to save the tops of the pineapples they cut up. Unfortunately, Dole no longer ships pineapples with tops on them. We tried two other grocery stores, but guess who supplies their pineapples? Dole. So, I guess this means no more pineapple containers for all the classes and 4-H groups who do this. I am going to write a letter to Dole and ask them if there is anyway we can get pineapple tops another way. Kids love this project and it would be a shame to never be able to do it again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fall Vegetable Gardening Prep

We've started thinking about fall vegetable gardening at our house. This weekend, my kids and I planted lettuce, beets, and collards into transplant trays. Kaity, the 2-year-old, loves to garden. We should have hundreds of lettuce plants coming up in each container thanks to her.

We're also going to be planting mustard, cabbage, sugar snap peas, carrots, and radishes seeded directly into the garden. I'd like to get strawberry and tomato plants and I'm still looking for broccoli and squash seed. I'm going to try one of the local seed and feed stores today to see what they might have available.

My dad just visited family in Ohio and brought home giant pumpkin seeds for us. He's recommending we plant them on the septic drain field - the pumpkins could be as much as 1,000 pounds! My Uncle Randall (who's 85 or so) in Ohio told us we should feed the pumpkin plants milk. Anyone have any idea why? I'd love some comments on this.

We're considering doing raised beds this year for the vegetable garden. I think I'm going to try 4 beds that are 4 feet by 8 feet by 6 inches. My son, Will - the earth mover, is going to love this. He'll get to fill all of the beds with potting soil. It'll be like a big, dirty sandbox.

Vegetable gardening is one of the best activities to get my family outside together. My kids love looking for new stuff to harvest in the garden and my husband and I both enjoy growing our own food. A lot of what we grow, I won't eat. But, much of the joy of vegetable gardening is giving it away to family and friends.

Site Planning

My husband, John, and I spent yesterday evening walking around the yard trying to decide where things should go - fence lines, animal areas, patios, swings, etc. We're trying to plan for the future and follow the experts recommendations - do a site plan before you start! As I walk around the yard, I can see the benefits of this. Deciding where hardscaping is going now (even though it might be years before it's put in) will prevent us from planting a tree right in the middle of a future path or patio. But, it's so overwhelming...thinking about these things also makes us think about cost, labor and time. There's so much we want to do, but we know we need to do a little at a time. My next step is to actually measure the size of the yard and sketch out where things might go.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Welcome to Garden Living!

Welcome to the Garden Living blog. I'll be posting my thoughts about gardens and outdoor living here, as well as, recommendations from University of Florida horticulture experts.

I've also recently moved to our family farm. So, I'm working on turning a cow pasture into a wonderful, outdoor garden living space. I'll keep you updated on my progress and welcome any comments, thoughts, and recommendations you may have.

I hope you enjoy the blog and give a little thought to living in your garden space. Happy gardening!