Brighten up a Shady Spot

Do you have a shady yard or a spot under a tree that gets mostly shade and wonder what to do with it? Think shade gardens are boring and colorless? Well, I have a few combinations that will get you rethinking that shady spot! If you prefer a nice virtual garden tour of my favorite shade garden… check it out here: Shade Garden Tour, Best Hostas!

Hostas with Astilbe:IMG_0027.jpg

Hostas come in so many varieties and colors… use them to your advantage. Take the sunny yellow borders and pair them with the blue hues of  a Hosta named “June”. Add a few astilbe and you have a fabulous combination providing interest and color!

What if you get 3 hours of sun like this garden (pictured below)? Add some clematis, hakone grasses, daylilies and heuchera. While the blooms won’t be as plenty as those planted in full sun, you still get that added pop of color and a mix of textures all season long.

IMG_6280

Nothing beats a shade garden that looks great all season long!

2017 Was our first growing season in RAISED BEDS… BRING ON 2018!

Growing in Raised Beds

 

These pictures are from our first year using raised beds in our vegetable garden. Truth be told, I wanted to try raised beds for a long time, but finding the time to plan it out and get it built with one child and one on the way was another story. In the fall of 2016,  it finally happened. They were built using 10″ wide, 2″ thick, rough-cut, untreated hemlock boards. Each bed a simple rectangle measuring 4′ x 8′, 4′ x 12′ or 3′ x 10′.  Making the phone call to order in soil and compost with a dump truck was the easy part! The filling of wheelbarrows and countless trips to the beds from the massive piles was WORK, but how happy I was to fill each one knowing that the following Spring would mean I had a clean slate and less work! I decided to companion plant and succession plant… and how pretty it turned out! Not only did I get an abundance of fruits and vegetables, but it looked beautiful and put together. Here were my takeaways & the benefits:

  • Minimal, easy weeding (no tilling which means less weed seeds get in to the soil to germinate!)
  • The soil warms up quicker than the ground allowing a head start for some vegetables/fruit
  • Companion planting works and looks beautiful! Using flowers such as calendulas and nasturtiums as well as herbs like basil and dill to repel bad bugs and attract pollinators was a win!
  • Less back strain as you are not bending down so far ( depending on how deep your beds are)
  • It kept my kids walking on the paths instead of the soil (Soil compaction is no good!)
  • They were visually appealing and functional.
  • My future dreams include drip irrigation but one must first have some extra money lying around, that of which I do not. So hoses and watering cans will do for now.

If you want to see our garden and how we maximized our growing spaces, check out this video: How We Created A Vegetable Garden Design With Limited Garden Space

We’re looking forward to this year bringing in even more produce and fruit. I will pay special attention to rotating crops in order to keep soil borne diseases at a minimum. Now, if we could just get our Spring to feel like Spring! I know this awful weather pattern will break, and when it does, we will have a fabulous season ahead of us!

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day = Time to direct sow PEAS! (maybe…)

Well, St. Patrick’s Day makes everyone think green, right? I always think about starting my peas… if the ground is workable. Peas don’t mind the snow or cold. They prefer cooler temperatures. This year however, I don’t think they’d be too happy if I threw them into the ground…as a matter of fact… I couldn’t sow them if I wanted to! We are still buried in over 2 feet of snow… ugh.

But, I assure you, Spring will come and the snow will melt. Not nearly as fast as you or I would like, however. So, you still have time to grab some seeds and try them out if you haven’t! Kids love shell peas right from the garden. No cooking, no salt, no butter, just  plain sweet organic green goodness.

This video is from our season last year… a time lapse video showing how peas grow and what you can expect to see. Kids love to check to see how they are growing, they show noticeable growth quickly.  So sit back and relax, click here——–> PEAS and give them a try this year! You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

Our First Dose Of Spring & Seed Starting For 2018! ONIONS!

Talk about crazy weather this week! While it felt like a mid-May spring day on Wednesday, reaching almost 70 degrees…it was short-lived. I won’t ruin it by saying what happened the next day… OK I will…  SNOW! Yes, three inches of snow fell.  It left us scratching our heads a bit but we did manage to accomplish something during that beautiful day.  Emma demanded we fire up the Deere and make round trips to no where.   The sunshine put us in the mood to pretend, if only for a moment, that Spring had sprung!

28070994_364315710710148_1910708224694383168_o

While Emma took advantage of the sun and a few John Deere tractor rides, Blake and I geared up to plant our first round of vegetable seeds! Yes- I know its only February, BUT, onions need an 8-10 week head start before transplanting outside. They get planted a month before your last frost date, so in our zone 5b climate,  we end up with a February seed starting date.

Check out our video for tips and a visual on how we start them here:

How To Start Onion Seeds

We will give an update when they sprout, which takes generally just about 2 weeks. Growing onions from seed is easy. They are not picky or finicky. If their green tops start to get too tall, just cut their tops down to 4″ and use the tops like you would chives. It’s an added bonus! Give them a try this year!

 

I Love Finding Little Gems Like This!

So I was looking through some old footage of my kids and my gardens. I found a cute little dialogue from a year and a half ago… Blake was 4 years old at the time… What do you think? They grow up so fast! Click here to watch: Small Talk about BEES with my four year old

How Did Your Gardening Journey Begin?

For me, seven years ago, life was different. Not necessarily better, just different.  I met this wonderful man who would later became my fiancé. He had a beautiful home on 5 acres in a rural town. It was the perfect setting for my happily ever after! I had only myself and soon after moving in, two adorable pups to worry about. Now let’s get to how I met my passion in life, GARDENING!

My fiancé’s sister, Heidi, had invited us to dinner at her home. It was a night that changed my perspective on being home a lot. Her view: “We love it here… if you enjoy where you live and enjoy sitting on the deck with a beverage, what could be better?” As we sat outside on her deck, I could hear many chirps of birds that she could without hesitation identify. I had a view as if I were on vacation in a resort off of some remote island (minus the palm trees!). What a beautiful enchanting place… all in the comfort of her own backyard.

This was the moment I wanted to create this for myself. I was home a lot. Why not LOVE my time here?! I had 5 acres to make into a beautiful serene oasis of birds, flowers and gardens. But hmm, where do I start? I made a phone call to Heidi and said I’d like to put in a garden of my own. She was very excited to help but warned me that it’s not easy! Her gardens were, after all, 20 years established. We made plans to go on local garden tours through The Gardening Conservancy. These were beautiful, estate homes with manicured gardens (and a crew!) you would die for. She said I would need to start small and to focus on colors and plant combinations I liked. I took photos and made notes with my phone. It wouldn’t be long before I made my first purchase at a local nursery, a discounted Tree Peony generically labeled “red” like the sales tag. The journey began.

Truth be told, my first garden sucked. No, I mean it! I made a ying-yang shaped garden with two different colored mulches (and dyed mulches at that!).  My pup even started reacting with these large welts from running through it. Since then, certain things have become much clearer. Gardens become homes to insects, good and bad. They become part of an ecosystem for snakes, toads, birds etc.  It is important to have healthy soil, so if your soil was like mine… hard ground, very compacted, clay soil… amendments are needed. I chose to have organic raised bed soil brought in by the truckload and it was much easier to plant and build gardens that way. Most of my flower gardens are built on a slope which presented a challenge by itself. Soil erosion during rainstorms was my arch-enemy! We used rocks from around our property as ledges to help with that. I worked so fast and so hard to build gardens, buying up every beautiful new thing I saw. It didn’t take long for me to have 8 glorious gardens.

Once I had children though, it was TOUGH! How am I going to find the time to mulch and add compost to eight gardens?  When will I start my seeds and expand the already demanding gardens I have?! Let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. There are many lessons to be taught in gardening. Mother Nature can teach us lessons we never knew to teach. Whether it’s a vegetable garden or flower garden, the simple process of watching plants grow to bloom or produce fruit entertains and excites children. It was very easy to involve my son first… and just by allowing him to help out with simple things and be a part of the process, he has grown in to the ultimate gardening sidekick! My son starts seed in the winter with me. I let him help pick out what we will grow for the year. He helps me plant, dig and mulch. He finds such joy in picking and harvesting from garden. My 18 month old daughter ate so many cherry tomatoes right off the vine this year, I thought for sure she’d sprout a leaf somewhere! They share in the joy of finding things like caterpillars on dill that start out tiny and black to then eat until they grow large and into a different color and ultimately a butterfly! Whats better than checking on those babies everyday?! To a 6-year-old, nothing!

I’ve loved and I’ve lost. Plants that is.  Harsh winters, borderline hardy plants… I’m a zone 5b gardener, but don’t think I haven’t tried to get away with overwintering a gorgeous zone 6 plant! Insects have taken a toll on a few things but that will happen. Deer will munch and take down the hostas as if they’re eating at a buffet planted specifically for them. However, amidst of the minor setbacks,  I now have children to join me. I have them on organic pest control from April onward! We pick lily beetles and find their bright red eggs under the leaves…and don’t forget the dreaded Japanese beetles. They arrive without fail around here on July 1st. Its become a contest for us now, who can drown the most in a soapy bucket. With gardening, as in life, there are trials and tribulations. Gardening for me rewards my patience, my time, my respect for nature and my children. It gives an inner peace that I gain nowhere else.

Plants and children are an expensive investment, but so worth it when you finally get to a point when you can sit on your porch or in a lawn chair and just watch. Watch them wandering through the gardens eating, watching, looking for “cool” new things, insects, vegetables, butterflies…. Watch the butterflies flutter by, listen to the melodies of birds, and see beautiful blooms swaying in the sun.  This is how my passion and love of GARDENING WITH KIDS began.

 

WELCOME TO OUR GARDENING JOURNEY!

What are we about?

We’ve decided to start a gardening blog to share our awesome experiences with you! I am a mother of two children teaching them to grow and learn through involvement in organic gardening. They love seeing what nature has to offer and the excitement that I see during the season (or even finding a new visitor to the garden) is amazing. We are involved in everything from the soil up! This includes seed starting, flowers, vegetable gardening, mulch, best practices, unique finds, garden design and landscaping,  insects,  bees and butterflies. Whew! Are you ready to see what grows in our garden? Follow us and see…