Monday, April 25, 2011

LittleBear at the lake

After a long dry spell (much like the weather outside), we are now blogging like crazy -- too much going on to keep up with! We'll get to an Easter recap soon, but first we want to look back at the weekend before Easter, when my aunt and uncle graciously brought our whole family (the three of us, Aunt Sue and Uncle Vic, my mom, my sister, her husband, and their four kids) to a lakehouse on Lake LBJ for a weekend. (Thanks again, so so so much!!!!!!!!!!!)

We all enjoyed the time together with family. LittleBear loved playing with his cousins, particularly his oldest cousin Little J, who is 5 1/2; LittleBear followed him around much of the weekend, really looking up to him (both figuratively and literally) like an older brother. (Here's a video example.) That was so cute to see!!

One day, Aunt Sue and Uncle Vic rented a pontoon boat and sailed us around the lake for a few hours. At first, it seemed to lull LittleBear to sleep (check out the photos below for his "Weekend at Bernie's" impression), but after he woke up, he seemed to enjoy watching the water go by (see this movie for more).

The next day, the kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt around the backyard. Each kid was looking for a particular sort of egg; LittleBear's were sports eggs, which was fun. He seemed to enjoy the hunt, and he definitely enjoyed what was inside the eggs (candy!) and has continued to play with the (now empty) eggs since we got home. (Here's a video of the hunt, and here's LittleBear opening his eggs.

Here are links to photos from the weekend:
Hope you enjoy the videos and photos even just a fraction of how much we enjoyed the weekend!!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Family Garden! Blooms!!!!!!!!!!!!

God has been good to our garden this week!!! We had two days where it drizzled a bit and three cloudy days. The zucchini plant gave us a bloom that started opening on Easter, which was really neat. The pea vines also have five blooms and ONE PEA POD between them. To quote Grover, "Oh, I am so excited!!" Also, I discovered yesterday that three of my seedlings left in my seed starter tray are tomatoes! Hooray! So, providing nothing happens to these guys, I still might have tomatoes in my garden this year.

Many of the bush beans that I planted last week have sprouted and the rest are on their way. Both melons I planted the same day are sprouting as well! I'm so excited! For plants that were afterthoughts, they are certainly making up for lost time compared to the others!

Box 1:
Box 2:
Box 3:
You may notice that the Pea trellis has changed yet again (that's pea trellis #3, if you're keeping track). I wish I built it the way it is now from the beginning, but this is a learning process, so at least now I know for future reference.

Here are some other random shots for the week:

My pea pod and two blossoms...
Nest of Pea tendrils...
Our zucchini...
Close up of potential zucchini blossoms
Honeydew melon sprout:
Bush Beans:
Bell pepper:
Onions & Carrots:
Box 1 from the side:

He is Risen!!!! Leap and Sing and Dance for Joy!

or click here

Monday, April 18, 2011

Family Garden! Good News, Bad News...

Well, the bad news is that I lost seven plants this week, three bell peppers and four tomatoes. I still have four bell peppers growing in the garden and a few in my seed starter tray, but that means my tomatoes are done. It happened somewhere in the process of me moving them from inside to outside. I have learned for next season to start significantly more seeds than I think I'll need (I thought starting double would be enough, but apparently not) earlier than I think I'll need them, no matter what the seed starting calendar says. I am starting more from seed now, but I don't know that there will be time before it gets too hot for them. *SIGH* Oh well, this whole project is one big learning experience, right?

The good news is that everything else is growing nicely! The zucchini, carrots, onions and spiral broccoli are growing well and I have to trim the pea vines often to keep them from getting tangled up in one another. I got my seeds for the bush beans, the honeydew and the orange melon and have planted those as well, so hopefully those will grow like the others. I still haven't had any obvious pests or even that many weeds, which makes me happy and even more sold on the Square Foot Gardening method.

It's starting to get really warm here, so I'm doing my best to be diligent about watering on a regular basis. I think it's almost time to set the swaying sprinkler out and let it go for 30 minutes or so.

Here's the new diagrams for Box #1 and Box #2:
Box #1:
Box #2:

I know what you're thinking, NINE bush bean plants PER square (that IS of course what you were thinking wasn't it?)?! That's what Mel says and I saw online there were several gardeners who tried nine in each square one season and 6 in each square the next season and they got better yields from the nine in each square. Granted, there are a lot of factors that go into one's yields for a season, but I'm going to go with their experience and Mel's word on this one.

Here are some close ups, in case you are interested:

Spiral Broccoli:
Onions (white):
Baby Carrots:
Bell Pepper:

So that's where we are as of today. I'll be back with hopefully better quality pictures next week :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fun Things From Our Backyard: Family Garden!!

I hesitate to write this post because I've never been known to be really great at growing things, but I wanted to try a new adventure with LittleBear that might save a bit on our grocery budget, so I started a family garden. My goal is to get one edible veggie from this garden and if I can do that, then I will feel it was a success :)

Following Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening method, I built two 4' x 4' x 6" boxes and used one 2' x 2' x 6" free box that I had from a Home Depot Do-It-Herself class on gardening. I sectioned off my square feet with jute twine and filled them with organic raised bed mix bought at a local nursery. I bought my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

I chose what to plant based on what we buy most often at the grocery store, which would have been a good plan except that I found out last week that we have some new allergies in the family to peas, peppers, onions and tomatoes. I'm hoping to freeze a lot for later when the allergies might be less sensitive :)

I sat down and mapped out what we wanted to grow and when it should be planted according to the tutorial laid out over at Thy Hand Hath Provided. Then I came up with a visual plan of the garden (Garden Journal downloadable here):
Each of the dots represents one seed or plant in the appropriate squares. In Box #1, we currently have growing:
* 3 Tall Telephone Garden Peas
* 4 Wando Garden Peas
* 1 Lincoln Garden Peas
* 1 Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli
* 2 Romanesco Italia Broccoli
* 64 Stuttgarter Onions
* 64 Little Finger carrots

In Box #2, we currently have growing:
* 4 Emerald Giant Pepper
* 1 Ozark Giant Pepper
* 2 California Wonder Pepper
* 1 JuJuBe Cherry Tomato
* 64 Crimson Forest Bunch Onions

In Box #3, we currently have growing:
* 1 Black Beauty Zucchini
I'm also going to had one plant of bush beans, one honeydew and one cantaloupe to this box, but don't have those yet.

In my seed starter trays, I've got:
* More Wando Garden Peas
* More Tall Telephone Garden Peas
* More Ozark Giant Pepper
* Amish Paste Tomato
* More JuJuBe Cherry Tomato
* Riesentraube Tomato

So far pests haven't been a huge problem except for one neighborhood cat who thinks I just built him some very large litter boxes (GRRR) and a bit more wind than I expected. I've been very diligent about watering the boxes though and the cat seems to realize that walking around in moist/wet dirt isn't what he wants to do so thankfully I haven't had to deal with that issue in a few weeks. I noticed this weekend that we had some mushrooms growing in there too, but they definitely do not like the sunlight and have died off already. The wind took out my first pea trellis, so I'm on my second one, and this one seems to be holding up a little better. We're supposed to have severe thunderstorms tonight, so we'll see what it looks like tomorrow morning.

LittleBear loves helping me water the garden and has been pretty gentle with the plants so far on the whole. I tell him that "it's time to water the garden" and he goes running over to grab the watering can and then walks with me out to the garden. He's such a little helper!

Zucchini (taken last week when I started this post, see above for what it looks like now!):

Baby Broccoli Plant
Our Blueberry Bush
Our little helper:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Helpful LittleBear: Dishes!

LittleBear is very much our little helper. (Perhaps we could use his help posting to the blog more often; sorry it's been over a month!) Recently, he's been helping with the laundry, putting his toys away, helping Mommy water the garden, etc.

We caught this video the other morning when he was helping Mommy put the dishes away. So cute!