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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!