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April 20th, 2012

Fifteen Beans in a Hole

paigepluckett60x60by Paige Puckett—
My natural tendency is to be bossy. I’m a first born, and I’m used to getting my way. However, when it comes to teaching my kids to garden, I have to balance my desire to do things the right way with letting them explore and experiment on their own. For instance, I did insist that my four-year-old plant pole beans next to a pole, but when he chose to put fifteen beans in one hole and was very excited about doing so, I let it ride.

paige-042012

We spent the entire day visiting a nursery, perusing the farmer’s market and then planting our garden. My oldest was a huge help, and the youngest tried his best to keep up. One potted tomato plant was dropped, several flowers were pinched off the marigolds, the bed of lettuce had the hose dragged across it, corn seeds were tossed on top of mulch by the almost two-year-old, and my spade was stolen on more than one occasion. There was also a nice layer of dirt in the bathtub once the water drained and happy exhausted boys to tuck in that night.

Garden Activities for Kids:

Seeding corn and beans is a great way to introduce kids to gardening. These seeds are easy for little fingers to grab. Beans make for easy picking down at their height, and corn makes for dramatic growth and excellent hiding places.  If you are planting the two in the same bed (which can be beneficial), give each kid a handful of mixed seeds and a stick and show them how to poke a hole in the ground and stick a seed inside. Don’t be picky about the spacing of their holes. Simply let them overplant and you can thin things out later once they sprout.

Another good activity is having kids help dig holes for the tomatoes and peppers, and then fill the dirt around the plants. Show them how deep they need to go with the shovel, and then brace the plants with your hand as they push the dirt back around them. My four year old would dig out the dirt and put in into an empty pot so it didn’t get mixed in with the mulch. He was nervous about hurting the plants, so he had me take them out of the pots and put them into the holes.


Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.

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August 12th, 2011

Teebonacci Playhouse in the Garden

paigepluckett60x60by Paige Puckett—

One of my fondest childhood memories is visiting my second-grade teacher’s home. There was a greenhouse, beautiful gardens and paths, and a network of cobblestone trenches through the woods. I remember her saying her father had created them for her as a small child, and I don’t know if the trenches served a functional purpose other than a child’s whimsy.

teebonacci

I love the concept of secret passageways leading to grand adventures. When we lived in downtown Chattanooga before moving to the country, my brother and I once tied string up between trees to make our own paths through a vacant lot next to our house. In creating the new garden this past spring, I wanted to capture the spirit of childhood exploration for my small boys. This led to a vine tunnel, winding paths, and a bean teepee.

The quarter-teepee, dubbed  “teebonacci” because of the rough Fibonacci spiral of the poles, is the boys’ garden house. I oriented the poles to face southeast, assuming the bean vines would appreciate the sun and maximize the shade for the little ones. It stands next to the garden fence in the corner where moonflowers are working their way up 4-foot posts and leftover tomato transplants grow just outside the garden where they fight for their existence despite our friendly neighborhood deer.

Now that the bean teepee is nearly fully covered in vines, the boys have started taking more interest in it. However, the vines have migrated around toward the north side, nearly closing off the triangular entrance to their hideaway. Thankfully, a wooden ladder I picked up at the flea market this spring (a gentleman was using it to display his clothes for sale) is the perfect solution for giving them just enough of a tunnel into their house while holding the unruly vines at bay. Sometimes, when the boys are napping, I’ll crawl in there too just to look around and smile.


Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.

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August 2nd, 2011

Saving Seeds

paigepluckett60x60by Paige Puckett—
In the spring, I invent reasons to go to home-improvement stores so I can slip a couple of seed packets into the cart, hoping I don’t get in trouble with my husband. He’s not stingy; he just knows I have a shoebox full of seed packets already. However, one of my goals of applying permaculture principles to our small kitchen garden means it isn’t enough for me to start from seed; I want to buy those seeds only once. Extreme? Maybe. Fun? Yes. I have been saving tomato and flower seeds for several years now, and last year I started saving lettuce seeds, too
.cosmos-seed-head-paige

The lettuce was bitter from the getgo this spring (I probably should have tasted it before donating several bags to the Food Shuttle), so I pulled most out to compost, leaving only a couple heads of each kind to keep growing. Those remaining heads have finally flowered just in time for fall planting. This week, I had my preschooler help me pluck the flowers that had already “poofed” and we scattered them in a newly turned-over section of the garden. Most of his seeds were lifted by the breeze and landed on the path, but he loved participating and explaining what he was learning. The way he phrases it is, “Those seeds want to become plants, right?” He’s learning right along with me.

poofed-lettuce-seed-head-paige

The trick to saving flower and lettuce seeds is making sure they have time to fully develop. This was our first year to grow cosmos, and I’ve been deadheading it all summer to keep the blossoms coming. I knew at some point I had to let it go to seed so I could enjoy the plant next year. I didn’t know what to expect, so I kept plucking off seedheads and opening them to see if they were ready. This evening, I discovered that it is quite obvious when they are ready. They poof, just like the lettuce!


Paige Puckett and her husband Joe, both in Land and Water Engineering fields, grew up with hands-on experience helping parents and grandparents in vegetable gardens and creating wild adventures in their expansive backyards and nearby creeks at their respective country homes in Tennessee and North Carolina. Now that they have two boys of their own, they try to engage them in the outdoors despite the obvious confines of downtown living in Raleigh, NC. Paige shares their lessons learned, garden projects and photos at her Love Sown blog.

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