Saturday, May 7, 2011

Garden Goodness

Yesterday was such a nice day. We started out with a little more visiting then saying goodbye to Gramma and Granny. Gramma left these books with the kids and told Miah to learn three flowers before she comes back to visit in three weeks.

Miah got right on it.

She drew three flowers.

The flower info in the book is in a separate section from the pictures of the flowers, so she asked me to help her find the information for each flower that she drew. Then she wrote a little "story" about each one on the back of her drawings. All this was totally without any direction or urging from me. I couldn't decide if I was more amazed at Miah's own initiative or at the power of a Grandma's suggestion.

Larkin, after studying the Scats and Tracks book at breakfast, picked up our insect field guide and spent a couple hours searching for bugs, looking them up in the field guide, and reporting to me his discoveries and asking me to find more information for him on the internet.

Then the kids decided to have a "Honeysuckle Party," where they sat around sucking blossoms and drinking milk.

The chickens discovered that they like honeysuckle blossoms too.

I spent the afternoon working in the garden. It felt so good to have the sun on my back, my fingers in the dirt, and the scent of white clover in the air. The kids played in the yard and I delighted to listen to their talk and their games. At one point, they were playing charades and I knew the idea came from our latest family read-aloud, Eight Cousins. (By the way, I think this book is absolutely fabulous. It's full of historical and literary references and the goodness of learning apart from traditional school.)

Our garden is not quite conventional this year. I'm trying out companion planting and have divided the garden into five big blocks with three walkways. Plus plants keep popping up that just naturally reseeded from last year's garden and I can't bring myself to pull them up. See the row of sunflowers in the picture above? That's one of my walkways. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a month or so. I think it will be difficult to navigate, but I also think it will be beautiful.
Little cantaloupe plants (Old Time Tennessee). And grass, which is what I spent most of my time pulling up.

Sugar snap peas.

Trellises for the cucumbers, which are just poking up, with a row of Little Finger carrots in between. I've also trellised the watermelon and pumpkin in order to create more space.

Mystery squash from last year - probably Lebanese White Marrow.

We planted a second round of radishes since the first batch was so good, but these are way too hot and fit only for Miah's creativity.

Basil - lots popping up among the tomatoes, cauliflower, and okra beds.

The tomatoes. The ones I started inside look really pathetic, but they're hanging in there. Several tomatoes have popped up here and there and look really healthy. I'm wondering if I should just sow the tomato seeds directly in the garden next year. The frost doesn't seem to bother them at all.

Carrots and clover. There is a lot of clover in the garden, and it makes me feel like I'm a bad gardener when I show people the garden. But I'm letting it grow there on purpose because it fixes nitrogen in the soil. It smells good too.

Really big mystery plant. I have no idea what this is, and I want to pull it up because I'm sure it's a weed. But it looks so significant that it might be something good. So there it stays for now. Anybody know what it is?

Carrots, beans, and lettuce.

Garlic. This is in a separate bed by the house.

Supper. Garden goodness - turnips, lettuce, salad burnett, and some wild mustard.

Crazy girls enjoying their garden goodness.

The beloved wisteria.

And for dessert Miah mixed a lot of black cocoa and honey into some fromage blanc to make a yummy (and healthy) chocolate pudding.

Which, of course, was served with freshly picked strawberries.

Mmmm! What a day!


  1. Oooh, I love Eight Cousins! The sequel is very sweet as well. Your garden is much further along than ours & we're totally jealous of your strawberries :)

  2. Looks lovely! I have the book Eight Cousins on our shelf from when I was a kid....I wasn't sure they'd have any interest yet though. Are you sure your mystery plant isn't a zucchini or other squash? The leaves look like that....but I'd have to see the whole plant...

    Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

  3. Sarah, your mystery plant looks like maybe okra or possibly zebra mallow. Good picture here: (
    I have a bunch of it growing around here, and it self seeds easily... I may have given you seeds at some point in the past and one of them found it's way to your garden.

  4. The mystery plant is a couple feet high with several upright stalks. It's too straight and bush-like to be a squash and it doesn't have any signs of buds. It isn't anything we've grown before. The seed probably came from the horse manure we added to the garden.

  5. What a beautiful day! I feel refreshed, coming here, spending the day outside with you :) And all that lovely learning, and eating (YUM), and playing, and discovering—it's inspiring. Makes me want to go skipping and whooping outside this very minute. 'Cept it's early and it's wintery and I might scare the chickens :)

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  6. Wow...your garden is beautiful! I love how artistic your kids are! And your chickens....are they in a coop? Ours have quickly eaten everything green in their coop. We were going to make our coop a tractor and move it around, but, we never got around to putting wheels on it and it's very heavy. Love your pics!

  7. Our chickens are in a pen that runs along the backside of the yard. They did eat up their grass. We have two compost piles in there, but apparently we don't have the smartest chickens in the world, because they barely eat anything out of them. A few days ago we dumped a whole bucket of strawberry tops with plenty of red juiciness still on them and they didn't even touch it. It's frustrating. They have a coop that they go into to lay eggs but they refuse to go in for any other reason - even storms or snow.

  8. Beautiful Sarah! :) Companion planting has always worked for me. And I read Eight Cousins last year, and loved it.

  9. What a beautiful day you created and enjoyed... just found your blog -thought i would say hi...
    light and peace to you ...

  10. You will love companion planting - it works very well. I also surround the edges of my vegetable garden with marigolds. It helps keep away insects. This was my first year homeschooling the kids and I have implemented a lot of your ideas. We did the Thanksgiving lapbook and the Scholastic interview with the pilgrims and native americans.

  11. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the life you are creating and sharing. Wish all children could be so lucky.

    All joys and happy weekend,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  12. Lovely!!

    Your garden is so far beyond ours! Ours are tiny, still. :)

    I can't wait for lunching in the garden!

    Oh - and I have Eight Cousins... I will sure check it out, now! Thanks for the tip!

  13. poppin over from OLM! I am jealous of your gardening...the only thing I can seem to grow is a messy house! :)

  14. those are great pics! I love your trellises--they are so pretty!