Posts Tagged With: planting

What I’ve Learned about Gardening with a Busy Family

Trial and error, what one busy mom has learned about gardening with a busy family!

I love feeding my family wholesome, fresh foods.  Of course, boxed macaroni is still one of my kids favorite treats.  If I can just balance it with meals such as from-the-garden stir-fry, well, the occasional Girl Scout cookie isn’t the end of the world.  But gardening was always so time intensive!  I would start with great intentions, but inevitably the whole garden plot would end in ruins by the middle of July.  And then, quite by accident, I learned gardening with a busy family can actually be simpler than I had ever dreamed!

It all started with decorative raised beds I spotted online.  Spring time is a farmer’s busiest time of year, so I knew better than to ask Daddy to stop putting on fertilizer or planting corn to build me garden boxes.  So I printed off the plans, drove to Lowes, and built my own raised beds.  They were FANTASTIC!  I actually harvested something more than zucchini for almost the first time ever.

What I've learned aout gardening with a busy family

The next year my mom gave me The Square Foot Gardener for Christmas and I was hooked.  I build more beds, tried new plants, canned lots for later.  And I realized I’d gone from gardening because I wanted the end product to gardening because I loved the process.  Instead of fighting weeds I was growing food!

So here’s what I learned:

  • Use raised beds!  Planting  in rows is what my husband does with a tractor.  I am not doing that much work by hand!
  • Buy seedlings from a greenhouse.  As a beginner starting with seeds that can be sown into the raised beds after last frost or buying plants can be the difference between success and burnout.
  • Plant what your family already eats.  Okay, if you find something you just have to try, sure, have fun. But don’t plant a bunch of kale or broccoli in your garden if you’ve never cooked with them.  I grew eggplant two summers in a row before I realized all my beautiful purple veggies molded in the fridge ’cause I had no idea what to do with them!
  • Plant the amount your family will eat.  Two vines of acorn squash is more than enough for my family.  Even if they store well.  Even if the plants are cheaper than squash from the store.  Even if I like sausage stuffed acorn squash.  We just don’t need a whole row.
  • Place your garden beds near a water source.  If you have to stretch a hose over the driveway and so must wind it each morning you will NOT water your garden daily.  Rain barrels are on my list for this spring.  I’ll keep you up to date on how those work out for me!
  • Place your beds where you notice them.  Out of sight means out of mind.
  • Involve your kids.  Maybe not every day, but their fresh perspective keeps you fresh as well.
  • Error on the side of smaller.  You can always get more sweet corn from a pickup on the side of the road.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Do small the first year and add more next year.

And there you have it– everything I’ve learned about gardening with a busy family!  What’s your best tip?

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Growing Wheat

Spring is the time for planting.  In autumn, we reap a bountiful harvest of crops. At least, most of the time.

Growing wheat is a bit different.  First of all, there are several varieties of wheat and some are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.  Most of the wheat you see in pictures, however, is some variety of winter wheat.  This wheat is planted in the fall, a few weeks before cold weather sets in.  The seeds sprout and grow just a bit before freezing weather stops the plant’s progress until spring.  Then, earlier than even your lawn, the fields of wheat sprout fresh and green just as winter ends.  Have you seen fields of bright green grass in the spring?  It was likely wheat!

growing wheat

Throughout the spring the wheat grows taller, reaching at least waist-high on a grown man.  From this point the heads of wheat begin to fill out.  That means the wheat is growing not by getting taller but by making the kernels all plump and fat.  After that the plant begins to die, turning from green to gold.

growing wheat And then, right on time for singing “amber waves of grain” and buying your fireworks, the wheat is dry.  These are the fields you often see in photographs with long stalks of wheat, heavy with grains on the end.  Now the wheat is ready to be harvested– right in the middle of summer.

growing wheat

So as you travel on your summer vacation keep an eye out for combines.  Have you seen any harvesting wheat?

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Ride in Daddy’s Tractor

You’ve heard lots about farm life, but you haven’t been able to ride in Daddy’s tractor just yet!  Well hop on board as we plant field corn right in our own front yard!

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Compare and Contrast

Many family farmers live life just like anyone else.  We shop at grocery stores, check our e-mail, go to football games.  But some things are different on a farm.  For example, we walk almost half a mile to drop a letter in our mailbox or pick up our latest Netflix.  A “neighbor” may live more than a mile away.  And no one plants a sweet corn patch like a farmer!

compare and contrast the life of a family farm

This is a photo of Daddy, Brett and Anna planting the sweet corn patch.  This planter usually plants field corn, (which is NOT good for plain eating!) and is 16 rows wide.  Usually we fill the huge, yellow, bulk tanks on the top full with waxy seed corn.  This week we finished planting all our waxy corn, and that means its time to clean out the planter and switch to soybean seeds.  Before pouring in the soybeans, however, we can fill the small, yellow boxes on the planter with sweet corn seed and make a 100 foot pass at the end of the backyard.

compare and contrast life on a family farm

Then Daddy and the kids can plant, farmer style!

Based on the things you’ve learned from the blog so far, what ways do you think the life of a farm family is different from yours?  How is it the same?  Draw a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast.

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