A Mother-Son Red Twigged Dogwood Fence

Here’s that pile of twigs that’s been waiting for a project for the past few weeks. Last weekend my little guy and I decided to make a very simple fence out of them. Michael used to do this with apple tree suckers at our old house on Forrester Street. Those fences always looked so sweet and kept toddlers and babies out of the beds. These days we’re keeping soccer balls and teenager’s feet out of the beds. Very different, yet so similar. IMG_1344Michael showed us how to make the first loop.IMG_1346This isn’t the greatest photo of the tool we were using. We call it the “dandelion picker” because Michael uses it to get rid of the dandelions that pop up in our yard. That’s a whole post in itself 😉 . I’m not sure about the correct name for it, but it’s basically a long, straight rod that loosens soil so you can pull a weed out, a dandelion picker! We cut the twigs to equal lengths then poked a hole about two inches deep and put the twig in very securely.
IMG_1364 This guy loves projects and he’ll still do them with his mom.
IMG_1347We kind of estimated and used the ruler on the kneeling pad to space things evenly.IMG_1350

And there it is! Not perfect, it’s a bit uneven, but it does the job and I think it’s cute.IMG_1407And it was made with love.

Fences don’t get better than that!

Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Things That Work For Me–TV Turnoff Time

This week’s “Things That Work For Me” post could really be titled “Things That Work For Us”.

Every family has their own approach to the television’s place in their home from “its on all the time” to “we don’t own a TV”.  We live right in the middle. We do own a TV that we enjoy, but we set limits. The basic rule governing television viewing in our house is very simple;  It’s turned off every day from 10 am until 6 pm.  I must admit that there is sometimes an adjustment if someone is sick and needs a diversion to pass time or on really (and I mean really) cold, wet days when we can’t get outside. In the case of the latter we might watch a movie or turn it on at 5:00 instead of 6:00.

This very simple method of limiting TV screen time has many benefits, for example:

*We find other, active things to do.

*It provides some quiet during the day (one of my favorites).

*There is more cooperation and much less fighting among siblings.

*We spend more time together.

*Homework gets done early, with less fuss.

*We get creative and try new things.

*We read more and we go lots of places.

*Everyone is propelled outside to play, breathe fresh air and to spend time in the garden!

I could go on and on with my list but you get the idea. I’m not trying to speak in favor or against TV viewing, but rather I’m sharing an alternative that works well here in our house.

We started this last June and I’ve noticed that after a while the turn off seemed to extend beyond the “before ten and after six” time frame. When the tv is off for most of the day the habit is broken and it’s not the “go to” activity anymore. Everyone becomes engaged in other things and kind of forgets about watching it.

What works for you? Do you limit television and if so, how do you do it?

My inquiring, tv-less (most of the time) mind wants to know~

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Here’s a great post about garden-based learning from a blog in Texas that I started to follow recently. Here’s to many more garden experiences for children in 2013!

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ

Happy New Year from

The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden

 on Joe Field Road. 

We hope you will take steps in 2013 to cure Nature Deficit Order.

 Book a trip our garden!

Excerpts from the Great American Campout website and American Academy of Pediatrics: 

  • An “indoor childhood” hurts bodies & spirits.
  • Today’s kids are more likely to “tag” a friend on Facebook than outdoors in a game of “freeze tag.”
  • Kids today run from school to activities to sports w/ barely a minute to catch their breath.  Loss of free time can contribute to stress, anxiety, & depression in children. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Studies show being outdoors is the perfect anecdote.  Time in green spaces reduces children’s tension levels & enhances their social interactions, helping them to feel more connected to self and others. 

Learning in the Garden 

Sources cited:

  • Growing Food LiFE Curriculum Series
  •  Botany on Your Plate (Univ…

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A Few Thoughts About Garden-Based Learning

This morning over coffee I read this link   to a story about garden-based learning on Jamie Oliver’s website. It describes a school program in Morgantown, West Virginia and the work that’s being done to teach children experientially, using the garden. It sounds quite similar to the garden that I talked about here when I blogged about the Nathaniel Bowditch School in Salem last summer. Gardens are popping up in schools all over the country as we come to realize that our children need to learn, in a very hands on way, about where their food comes from, or perhaps I should say “where it should come from”.  Many American children are growing up with the idea that food comes from a box at the grocery store. I recently sent some zucchini home with one of my kid’s friends and heard later that they had no idea what it was. It really made me think about what I could do to share home grown food with people. I’ve always liked to give vegetables and eggs away.  Now I’m trying to give them to those who might not experience them often rather than to those whom I know will appreciate them. Even if someone looks at the zucchini on the counter for a few days wondering about how to cook it, then tosses it, at least there’s some thought about where it grew. Sorry, I’m digressing a bit, the point is, kids (and adults) really benefit from the hands on experience of planting, growing, harvesting and eating. Most kids don’t experience this at home for so many reasons so it needs to happen in school. Their health and the health of our planet depends on it.  Check out the link if you have a few minutes, think about giving some veggies away freely, and consider supporting your local school’s garden.

Thank you for indulging me for a few minutes while I stood on my soapbox! Sometimes I just can’t help it 😉

Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Great Achievement at Salem High and 1000 Varieties of Pears in Salem!

It’s nice to wake up at 5:45am to good and interesting news in the paper.

The front page story in today’s Salem News is about our high school’s AP program. The rate of students taking advanced placement classes has risen dramatically and the success rate on completion has too!  Here’s today’s coverage of the Secretary of Education’s visit and the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative Program’s recognition of our students. This creative program provides cash incentive to students who pass the AP exams, and to their teachers. My oldest son has benefited greatly from this program and I hope that his siblings will too.  The Salem Public School system has it’s challenges but the schools, students, parents and community are working tirelessly to overcome them. I’m so proud that my children attend the Salem Public Schools. Their education is amazing in many, many ways.

I also have to share this interesting letter to the editor, written by Jeanne Stella of Salem. It describes some of the horticultural history of the northern part of Salem and how the street names reflect that history. North Salem was once farm land and orchards. Imagine growing 3000 trees, with 1000 varieties of pears!  You can read Jeanne Stella’s letter here. We are a city of gardeners. It’s in the soil and it’s passed down through many generations!

I’m hoping to do a little bit of Halloween touring later today and tomorrow. We’ll see where the kids and I land. Photos will be coming!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

Potato Day!!!

The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived!

Yesterday we harvested our pot of potatoes!

We had a few friends visiting after school who helped out.

Here comes the wheelbarrow.

The team lifted up the pot and dumped it in!

Success!!

We found  the pottery and rocks that we’d put in for drainage.

And here they go, a treasure hunt for potatoes…the kids loved this!

We were all quite surprised to find potatoes in there!

Everyone found a few..

Here’s our little harvest. Next summer we’re planning to plant several pots, start toward the bottom third of each pot and gradually add soil as the plants grow. We did a little bit of that but probably not enough.  For this year, we were just excited to see that we grew potatoes!

 After we’d removed potatoes and pottery the girls spent about twenty minutes digging around in the dirt and admiring the amazing bugs that they found. That made my day!

This is what gardening with children is all about!

Green in the Middle, A Salem Public Schools Garden Program

This week I was invited to visit the “Green in the Middle” garden at the Nathaniel Bowditch School, here in Salem.  The garden began as part of a garden club at the school’s former location on Federal Street. Now it’s the work of a group of middle school students and teachers who participate in an after school program during the fall and spring and a morning summer program. The participants plan, maintain and enjoy this amazing space and in the process learn about subjects in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math).

Over the past three years the students have designed and installed many great features like this spiral stone path and the bench around the Silk tree.

There are raised beds full of flowers, herbs and vegetables! It’s beautifully done!

Many aspects of gardening are being explored.

From a simple, perfect hibiscus flower…

to a variety of heirloom tomatoes that are grown from seed in the greenhouse.

A great pumpkin plant is creeping across the yard…

and a gourd is tucked in, with morning glories for company.

I found swiss chard with cucumbers about to climb over them. This is a great idea for my garden next year!

The corn is coming right along.

I also found some beautiful pepper plants. Notice the army of watering cans in the background? Lots of work is underway here!

Colorful cement blocks decorated by students define the butterfly garden.


and beautiful decorations are everywhere!

After my visit I spoke with my friend Deborah Trammell, one of the teachers who works with the program. She described some of the educational opportunities that the garden offers this way:

 “The students designed, mapped, built, planted, studied and wrote about the garden. Some of the highlights are our composter (around the corner), increase in number of raised beds, butterfly garden against wall, spiral pathway. Many of our plants are started by seed in our greenhouse. We have many heirloom varieties of tomatoes. We have made lots of food from our plants,made bird houses, seed paper,planters …soaps, sachets, linen sprays which we have sold to raise money to donate, learned about pollinators and organic gardening, mapping, construction, fundraising and hard physical work…and so many other things” 

I’d love to see more programs like this. As a parent I have a huge appreciation of the value of gardening with children. It was exciting to visit this beautiful Salem garden where everything the garden teaches is shared and encouraged. I really believe that the world would be a better place if every child could learn from a garden!

Michele