30 April 2011

Garden: week 1

Greetings from the cutest garden gnomes ever.

Garden progress has been made! Thursday the kids and I went out to the garden for a little weeding and onion planting in the late afternoon. J met us there after work and helped while we ate a picnic dinner and I finished getting 6 (short) rows of yellow Stuttegarter onions planted.

Today (Saturday) we went back for a 4-hour stint. J finished turning the soil and getting compost mixed in, so now the whole plot is ready for plants! YAY! I planted more rows of the yellow onions (14.25 total), 3 rows of red onions, and 1.75 rows of shallots. That leaves one small section on that half of the garden for perennial herbs, strawberries, and Doodle's fairy house.

On the other half we started planting some starts I bought (spinach, chard and bok choy) plus pea seeds. These we caged with a little wire enclosure as the garden-wide fence will not be up until May 14th and we want to keep the rabbits and groundhogs out. If our camera were not acting up I would have taken a photo of our lovely garden today (and of my first farmer's burn/tan of the season). Alas, no photos. Instead, here's one of the garden from last weekend, photoshopped with our current garden layout plan.

When we return from Utah we'll be just a week away from the average last frost day. One more week after that and we're getting tomatoes!!!! and peppers... which I just realized I forgot to put on the diagram. Drat. Next week.

27 April 2011


Mud play mid-hike is much more enjoyable (and likely to be permitted by The Mom) when it's 81°outside. Hooray for a balmy spring day!

25 April 2011

Commence gardening!

It's garden season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have a 10' x 15' plot in the Penn State Center for Sustainability Community Garden this year. Saturday was our first work day in the garden, where we helped mark the new plots (including our own), ripped up some old fencing and moved some compost.

photo by Doodle

Sunday we decided to head back to the garden to work just on our plot. We started laying a rock path along the center of our plot. In doing that, J realized there was a large rock buried ~6" below the surface of the soil. We started digging and found a lot of large shale pieces.

J excavating. Photo by Doodle.

We finally got most of the rocks in that quarter of the garden excavated, and filled the hole with dirt and compost. J finished the path and we used the extra rocks to surround our plot.

Our garden after 5 hours of work. Note the stone fairy house in the lower right corner and the beautiful path laid by J.

We were at the garden for five hours yesterday and the kids did great. They love being outside. Doodle explored some wooded areas near the garden, which she loved until her unfortunate discovery of a nettle patch. (I learned she had found the nettles when I saw her stomping on something repeatedly. I asked what she was doing and she told me "Mom, this mean plant zapped me!" Yep, she was stomping on the nettles.) She's now a bit more wary of venturing into the woods, but hopefully we'll get her back in there soon, better able to identify and avoid nettles and poison ivy.

We are planning to grow: herbs, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, ground cherries and perhaps some more tomatoes.

Hooray for gardening season!


These little holes have started appearing in our yard, much to my delight.

Hello, darlin'! Please make yourself comfortable in our rock patch. I hope you won't mind if the kids and I sit and watch your comings and goings over the next few weeks. We think you're very interesting. I'll try to keep the little fella from walking on your nest holes. We're excited to get to know you, Andrena.

19 April 2011

Another birthday banner

I've officially decided that I love giving birthday banners as gifts. I signed up for a crafting swap of sorts with some friends earlier this year. One of these friends I have known since junior high, and reconnected with in the past couple of years. I realized that both of her childrens' birthdays were in April, so I decided to make them a birthday banner.

The construction is the same as previous banners: applique'd letters, double-sided banner pieces, and bias tape as the ribbon.

Simple, pretty, and fun.

Happy birthday, Conner kids!

18 April 2011


Nothing like cuteness and bubbles to brighten your Monday.

Yep, cuteness.

(Also, I love that Doodle's still wearing, and now loving, the jumper I made her.)

Happy Monday!

17 April 2011

Of course

The one time in a great while that a photo of me, taken by Doodle, turns out looking pretty good...
...my costar has to make a funny face. Of course. Darn kids. :P

15 April 2011

Spotted Salamander

We have a new critter around here. It's the elusive spotted salamander. See the spots? She regularly needs assistance crossing the street when migrating to her pond in the spring, much like the salamanders in the book Big Night For Salamanders by Sarah Marwil Lamstein.

Right now she's happily playing in her pond and requesting that I send some more flies her direction. Please excuse me. I must go find more flies for my spotted salamander.

09 April 2011

Doodle outdoor cam: Fairy House

Doodle's Fairy House. Photo by Doodle.

A couple of weeks ago Doodle checked out Kristen's Fairy House from the library on a friend's recommendation. It's a video about Tracy Kane, the author of the Fairy House book series, and her niece going on nature outings and making fairy houses. Doodle seemed intrigued with the idea of making a fairy house. Later that week she and J built a fairy house in our yard.

Last weekend we took a family outing to the nearby State Forest just to get outside. We brought along Doodle's newly-finished nature bag, which I told her would work well for collecting fairy house supplies. She started wandering around near the trailhead, picking up leaves, rocks, bark, moss, and anything else deemed pretty or cool enough for her fairy house.

She and J built the fairy house shown in the above photo. She took the photo to remember what her fairy house looked like. Then she started gathering again to build another fairy house. I like that she's excited to get outside and look for beautiful and interesting things, and is now more closely observing small things we run across when we're out exploring. I encourage friends with small kids to consider making fairy houses (or slug houses or whatever you want to call them) as a fun exercise in observation with your kids.


Go check out Go Explore Nature to see photos taken by other nature-loving kids as part of her "Give a Kid a Camera" feature.