HSV Garden Challenge #1

I took a photo today for the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge. I had just let the chickens out, so of course they were all huddled around me, hoping for some kitchen scraps or a handful of scratch, as I took the photo. One hopped up on the garden box, apparently so I would know she was waiting. 

Here is what I was trying to photograph:

Weathered by time, sun and moisture, the wood is worn. The chickens have scratched, pecked and dug through the dirt, leaving the soil in the boxes depleted.  The lathe has been removed. . .

My garden spot is looking worn.


I think now would be a good time to pull the boxes up, remove the plastic weed block under the boxes and start over.

I am thinking about:
  • continuing on with the boxes (Square Foot Gardening), making a few changes or
  • taking the boxes apart, using the wood for walking paths, letting them mulch, and starting a no-till garden
  • a fence to keep the chickens out, so they can still free-range
My first step is to remove the weed block and put down thick layers of newspaper instead. Newspaper (black and white ink only) will break down and enrich the soil and earthworms love it. It will also block weeds.

We have lots of work to do. But, we have some time before we can plant.

We will start tomato seeds indoors in about a week or two. Last year I started them too early and they reach a point where they really need the sun to thrive. So, I hope to be able to plant this year before they reach that point. Which, in Wyoming, is not until the end of May or the beginning of June. Sadly, though, I won't be planting the heirlooms I grew last year. . . my seeds were fermenting in a jar {growing some nice mold} in the window sill and my husband thought it was a forgotten science experiment and threw them away. I cringe just thinking about it ~ hundred of heirloom seeds down the drain. Literally.

What will we grow?

Each year, I am tempted to grow a large variety of things, but I would really like to focus on a few things that:
  1. I know I can grow
  2. my family enjoys
  3. will produce enough to put by
So far, here is my list:
  1. tomatoes 
  2. onions
  3. garlic
  4. basil
  5. bell pepper
  6. cilantro (I sowed some coriander seed last fall.)
  7. jalapeƱo pepper
Can you guess what two things we hope to can?

I have many heirloom seeds on hand to choose from, so I will have to decide and share more on what we will grow in another post (as soon as I figure it out). 

I will not be growing 2 things this year:
  • cucumbers for pickling: we will buy them from the farmer's market again (I can't grow enough for pickling, but I may grow some for eatin')
  • zuchinni: it never does well for me, but does do well for a lady down the street who blesses me with it... maybe I can barter with her for tomatoes?
  • strawberries (hoping they will come back)
  • chives (they are already shooting up)
For fun:

I try to grow one thing just for fun, for the kids. This year I am thinking about sunflowers (maybe a sunflower house?).

For beauty:

I'd like to plant some flowers and have an idea... (see below). 


Where I go for help:
  1. Heavenly Father. I pray over each seed I plant and ask Father to bless my efforts. I have to pray a lot. 
I have a bookshelf with a few homesteading and gardening books as well as a few magazine subscriptions that I read, but I am more of a trial and error gardener.

I will incorporate lessons from Five in a Row as well (see below).

I have already printed Jolanthe's Gardening Preschool Pack and I must confess that I'm looking forward to the 15 page BONUS for joining the Gardening Challenge!

Involving the kids:

My older boys will work right along side me in preparing the garden and will probably ask for space to grow their own plants. We have several containers/planters they can use. Eliana remembers rowing The Carrot Seed and has asked to grow carrots again. 

I thought this would be the perfect time to row The Tale of Peter Rabbit to go along with the Gardening Preschool Pack.

The little ones are the most excited. I am still in the "pulling it all together" mode, and they were wanting the seed packets, so I had them gather all the packets from the drawer I keep them in and organize them while I changed the ink on the printer and started printing!

We will use a paper grid and seed packets to "plan" a garden for Mr. McGregor, growing the same types of vegetables he grew. We will also write a letter of apology from Peter. And I am sure we will have some blackberries, milk and brown bread, too!

We will also row Miss Rumphius and plant something to "make the world more beautiful." I will have to find some lupine seeds and take a drive to the mountains to collect some flowers... my husband and I were married in a field of wild flowers and it would be fun to take the kids to the same spot to collect some wild lupine ~ it grows wild in the mountains and in the canyons around us. But, mostly, I want to plant some on our own mountain in Montana ~ our little piece of it anyways.

Check out the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge and join in the fun! Just grab some dirt, your homeschooler, and dig in! 


  1. Oh man, I think I would have cried if my husband threw away my seeds :(
    Can't wait to see how your garden turns out.

  2. How fun ~ and thanks for the newspaper tip!! :)

  3. Your pictures look awesome and your garden sounds great =)

  4. I am always inspired how you pull everything together! I am gardening less this year... sticking to what I know I can grow as well. No zucchini at our house either... =) And cucumbers for eating, not pickling here either, lol. Sweet Shabbat Blessings, my friend. Much love~

  5. Michelle it looks great! You know...I can't help but add that the FIAR fold in learn that goes with Peter Rabbit is a keeper and has some lovely printables that go with it here was a study we did a few years ago. http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2008/05/peter-rabbit.html
    We are growing heritage seed sunflowers this year with 4-H. I would love to do some container gardening this year. This is a huge obstacle for me because my husband has ZERO interest in gardening or helping out!


  6. I enjoyed this post very much. I am excited to start our garden. It must be the differences in areas. I have had the hardest time growing tomatoes and I am ready to just buy them at the farmer's market, but it seems every year that we have a never-ending supply of zuchinni and I am begging anyone and everyone to please take some (I hate to see it go to waste.) Cucumbers are hit and miss for me, last year I did six dozen quarts of pickles, lol, we are still trying to eat them up before we start our garden. I love that you pray for each and every seed, I usually pray for the frost not to hurt my little plants. I am going to do it your way this year. :)

  7. I love Miss Rumphius! What a great start with gardening!

  8. Ohh man this looks so lovely...!! Have some fun, Shabbos!

  9. Oh the seeds.... but reading your post makes me want to come to learn at your house! I love the chicken photo!

  10. It can be so hard to wait for Spring when we live in areas where the planting season starts so late. I live in Colorado, so we can't start till the middle to end of May.

    I always love seeing how organized you are and how you tie so many of your family plans into your homeschool. Such an inspiration. Thanks!

  11. I am with Jolanthe! I am loving the newspaper tip!

  12. Gardening is such a great way to get out in the fresh air. Especially in the spring. enjoy!

  13. :D You're the first one to answer. =)

  14. you're welcome! cardboard works great too.

  15. Thank you for the tip! I will check it out. My dh will do the man work
    (get me a load of compost from the dump), as time allows, but I do the
    rest with the kid's help. Are heritage seeds the same as heirloom
    seeds? Sounds like a fun project!

  16. Chantelle, I wonder if it is the area or maybe the soil, or the
    light... wow, six dozen quarts! I canned 18 quarts and thought that
    was a lot. lol My kids would eat 6 dozen if I canned them though. :D

    I pray as I plant them... =)

  17. I think our weather is very similar. Spring is late, Fall is early.

    And thank you! So much of what we do is learning, right? =)

  18. Oh, cardboard works well too! I plan to hit the cardboard dumpster at
    our favorite appliance store. :D

  19. oh, and do I ever need the fresh air ... and sunshine! As soon as the
    clouds roll by, that is. ;-) Thank you!

  20. Wow, such a neat way to look at gardening and rowing at the same time :) We have snow coming again this weekend and thus our garden plans are put off yet again. It's been a crazy year already, when it comes to weather, and we are leaning towards just a bunch of wild flowers and a very simple garden.

    I hope that you had a lovely Purim! I had you on my heart :) ~Tamara

  21. This is totally not related to this post, but I had to hop on over and say THANK YOU! I read about Project Life on your blog, and I am so excited about it. I bought the amber album and just ordered photos...my photos are finally being released from our computer! :) It really hit me how important pictures are to children (and me) when I was looking at some baby photos with Mike. He was just so enthralled, so excited that he had a history...it's like it really hit him how happy he was to be a part of a family. It hit me how quicly time passes...those baby days weren't all that long ago! So, thanks for mentioning it on your blog, because I am really excited for a more do-able approach to scrapbooking.

  22. =)

    You are WELCOME!!!

    YES! Scrapbooking {photos and stories} give children a sense of
    IDENTITY and belonging! And Project Life IS more doable! I'm even
    writing my stories now (the ones before blogging!). Yay!

    My blogging is even changing as I focus more on what I want my kids to
    remember ~ what is important!.

    I'm so glad to hear that you were inspired. =)

  23. I always love to catch up on your blog! Your one amazing momma!

  24. Thanks, Sherri. =) It's not too hard to catch up these days. :p