Things around my garden are pretty similar to last week, more seeds have been planted, a few more sprouts are peeking out from the earth, and I am harvesting food daily from the garden for our meals. A frost is expected here Friday evening, so I have put a stop to anymore planting until the weekend. And for that reason, and because so many of you asked, I thought I would share my little man's garden space today.
His main garden is in the center of the play area, and was, before Reece was born, my herb garden. When we dedicated this area of the yard for a play area years ago, we moved the herbs, and left the garden for Reece. This will be his fifth summer growing in his garden, always with a little help from me.
Reece, July 2011, watering his first garden
When he first started gardening, he grew flowers, tomatoes, snow peas, and cucumbers. He would join me at the garden center on flower shopping day, and excitedly point out all the flowers he wanted to grow in his garden, not quite understanding why he couldn't grow one of everything in his little space. He loved flowers back then and still does, but this summer he is really excited about growing food. A few weekends ago we planted some strawberries, which are slowly making an appearance in his circular garden. This past weekend I helped him make a bean teepee, and he planted pole beans, and marigolds. He also informed me that he wants to grow tomatoes and eggplant, which we picked up from a friend yesterday.
Last summer, in a search for more space to grow food, I asked Reece if he would like another garden in his play area. Of course he said yes, and so Justin built a little raised bed in front of his play structure. Reece and I filled it up with soil, and then transplanted alpine strawberries from one part of the garden to Reece's garden last fall, putting it all to bed with a good layer of straw for the winter. This spring we planted a blackberry bush, requested by Reece, and some sunflowers, which he started inside about six weeks ago.
We will work together on the weekend to plant his tomatoes and eggplant, and his garden will be complete for this season. I will have to remind him every once in a while to water it, and as soon as the seeds have all sprouted I will help him mulch it. It most likely won't get weeded at all, and he will check every day to see if there is something to eat in his garden. It is a lesson in patience for sure, as well as lessons on where our food comes from and the work required to grow it. All great lessons, that I am happy he is learning.
He now has plans to build a few fairy walking paths out of rocks, and maybe a little fairy home or two. I will leave him to it, and head on over to my own gardens to do a little weeding.
A weekend of sunshine and summer like temperatures meant I spent all day Saturday in the garden. There was the planting of more seeds, and the weeding and tidying of all the perennial flower beds. I helped my little man build a bean teepee for his garden, and watched as he planted pole beans, and marigold seeds. He has plans to add some tomato, and eggplant seedlings to his garden this week, and with the strawberries already planted and a few other flowers he wants to plant, his little garden plot is almost filled up. Watching him tend and nurture his garden brings a smile to my face, and I hope it is something he will continue to do for years to come.
I made it in the house just in time to cook dinner Saturday night, nettle pizza, and yes, it was enjoyed on the back deck. The rest of the evening was dedicated to rest and reading. I am reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes...have you read it? If you haven't, you should, so good.
Sunday morning dawned with a beautiful sunrise, and the promise of a wonderful day ahead. We walked with friends, in the forest, to see the trilliums, and then enjoyed a potluck lunch back at our place. After lunch the kids played, the adults chatted, and the sun shone bright and strong. Our friends left mid afternoon, and after tidying up I had planned to plant a few more seeds, but instead my body sank into the hammock with a cool drink and my book. It was wonderful. After dinner, we lingered outside, enjoying the warm evening, and soaking up the last of the sunshine.
And today, yes, we have one more day, it's a long weekend here in Canada. We have no plans for today, a walk in the woods, a little garden work, we don't quite know. It is suppose to rain, so maybe I will curl up with my book and a cup of tea. What I do know is we have a full day ahead of us, a day to do whatever we like, and we are going to enjoy it.
"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"
Reece, watching you explore and enjoy the natural world makes my heart sing. One of the things I hope you leave our home with, when the time comes, is a deep connection to nature, and an understanding of your place in it. I think we are well on our way.
There are lots of things happening around the garden these days. First of all, the butterflies, bees, and birds are flitting and flying about, and I couldn't be happier. The migrating birds that frequent our yard and feeders this time of year are amazing...purple finches, rose breasted grosbeaks, goldfinches, and eastern phoebes always capture our attention, and combined with the regular birds in our yard, chickadees, red breasted nuthatches, white breasted nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays, chipping sparrows, robins, and woodpeckers, we have quite the bird life to watch. The robins are busy building nests, and the eastern phoebe is already sitting on eggs. We are often found standing still in the yard, just watching as they fly around. And the butterflies, I am not sure I remember this many so early in the season before, but we are enjoying them, and Reece has fun trying to catch them. The bees I noticed for the first time on Monday while I was harvesting dandelions to infuse in oil for salves. For every flower I picked, I left two for the bees.
Second, one of three gardens is fenced in, and it looks amazing! One of the things I love most about my relationship with Justin is that he can see my vision, and then create it. I described what I wanted for the fencing, and a few days later he brought it all to fruition. And I love it! Next up, lining all the pathways between the beds with cardboard, and shoveling in layer upon layer of gravel. And while I do that, Justin will be busy fencing in the other two gardens.
Third, the chicken coop renovation is complete, and our new chicks will be moving into their new home soon. We were resourceful with this project, using up pretty much every bit of scrap wood, most of it from old barns, laying around our property. The only things we had to buy were screws and hinges. It still has to be painted to match the original coop, which I will get to once things slow down a little in the garden. There is a wall separating the two spaces at the moment. Our plan is to leave them separate for now, and then in another month or two, open up the space so all 17 hens share the same space. Speaking of the new chicks, they are amazing. Growing fast, changing colour, and keeping us all entertained.
Fourth, I have been planting a little every day. This year, I have really spread out the planting, doing a lot more succession planting then I have done in the past, and also a lot more companion planting. It means I am in the garden every day, planting a few seeds here and a few seeds there, and watching as the seeds planted a few weeks ago begin to sprout from the earth. The only problem I have run into is not paying careful enough attention to my garden notes, and sowing some peas in the same place I sowed them the week before. Oh well, I will thin as they all come up.
Two weeks ago, I spent a day planting berries and asparagus. Four raspberry bushes, three blueberry bushes, one blackberry bush, twenty five strawberry plants, and eighteen asparagus crowns, all went into the ground. It was a long day, but so worth it.
Trellises have gone up, and been stringed for both peas and pole beans, bush beans have gone in the ground, more beets, kale and Swiss chard as well. The first cucumber seeds went in the ground, and some calendula and marigolds where transplanted from the tunnels to the garden. A few sunflowers that were started in the tunnels have been transplanted as well, and some more seeded in the garden. I planted 96 bulbs of garlic in the fall, and all but one is sprouting and reaching for the sky. The soaker hoses have been laid out in the back garden, and this week I will get them laid out in the front garden.
Yesterday, we made our annual trip Richter's Herb Farm to pick up our herbs. We have, for the last few years, made this trip on our anniversary, and this year was no different. We celebrated twenty years of marriage yesterday picking out our herbs, and then enjoying lunch at a little cafe. Back at home, we all spent time in the garden, me planting, Justin working on a gate, and Reece playing, and swinging on the hammock. It might not be the way everyone wants to spend their anniversary, but for us, it was just perfect.
And last, but certainly not least, we had our first official harvest from the garden on Tuesday. I am sure many of you can appreciate how wonderful that first harvest is. It wasn't much, some nettle leaves, and a mixture of baby greens...kale, Swiss chard, spinach, salad mix, and romaine, but goodness it was so good, and paired with some eggs from our hens, it was also the first official meal from the backyard.
This gardening season is off to a great start, and I am so looking forward to watching my garden grow this summer.
As a family that lives in tune with the shifting seasons, I find comfort in the return of seasonal rituals and rhythms. With each year we grow and change, individually and as a family, yet the rituals and rhythms that ground us fall into place in a similar way.
With the sun rising so early this time of year it means a return to my early morning runs. I quietly sneak out of our home just before the sun rises, leash up Shelby, our dog, and hit the pavement for a run. Those first few steps are always the hardest, but I soon find my rhythm and sink into it. The air is filled with silence as I begin, but then a bird calls out, and another, and another, and before you know it the air is alive with birdsong, as the sun begins her gentle rise over the hills. If I am lucky, as I was last week, red foxes and deer often cross my path as the rhythm of my feet on the pavement creates the perfect environment for my mind to wander and think. I don't run every morning, just three, and on the other mornings, I exercise, do a few yoga poses and meditate, and get a loaf of bread in the oven (a necessity before it gets too hot). Then I make a cup of tea and head outside for a quiet walk in the garden as the sun rises. The early morning garden is a peaceful place to be, and certainly provides a certain grounding sensation for the day ahead.
There are daily walks in the woods with my little man, observing with a keen eye, the changes occurring on a daily basis. Buds are bursting forth with leaves, and new flowers are blooming every few days. We spotted the first wild strawberry flowers, and the trilliums are up, blanketing the forest floor in white. Birds nests are everywhere, filled with hope and promise, and animals scamper here and there as we walk. We finally found some frog eggs, and spotted the first frogs of the season. I can't even begin to explain the chorus of frogs we heard at that pond, it was thrilling. The forest is alive right now, offering the senses a variety of stimulation that makes my heart sing. We have been foraging quite a bit, enjoying the many gifts Mothers Nature offers us. We have harvested trout lilies, coltsfoot, and ramps. Ramp pesto has made a few appearances for dinner, and sauteed ramps in our frittata, with eggs from the backyard, is one perfect meal. Within the next few weeks the garlic mustard will be ready, and of course the dandelions are making their appearance now too. So much goodness, free for the taking, all you have to do is open your eyes, and offer gratitude to the earth as you pick.
Most of our time is spent at home these days. The gardens are being planted, fences are going up, and the chicken coop is being renovated. There are chickens to keep out of my flower beds, and baby chicks to play with. Every day new seeds go in the ground, planting not just food, but hope. As the green shoots pop up from the earth, a part of me still gets excited, even after 18 years of growing food on this land. It just never gets old. And this land, goodness, this land. It is only a very small piece of land, but it is ours, and every season finds me more deeply rooted and connected to this place we call home.
With the return of warmer days, the laundry finds it way outside to dry. We line dry our clothes year round, using a drying rack inside through the winter. Those first few days of hanging our laundry to dry in the sun, those are special days. And of course, I am in the process of gathering all our woolens, so they can be washed, dried in the sun, and tucked away until the fall. We certainly won't be needing those in the summer.
The mail box is a busy spot these days, with me corresponding regularly
with a few lovely ladies, and my little man, with a few pen pals scattered
around the world. Nothing makes me happier than walking out to the
mailbox and finding a letter from a friend. It truly is the simple
Our after dinner family walks shift slightly this time of year. With meals now enjoyed on the back deck, we tend to linger over our meals, chatting, bird watching, and enjoying the late evening sun. A certain little man enjoys a little after dinner play, and some nights we light a fire. It's a different kind of rhythm, one that allows us to sink into summer evenings, and enjoy them to the fullest.
Speaking of meals, towards the end of last week, we crossed the threshold, enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the back deck. We enjoy our meals outdoors, listening to the sounds of nature, and lingering a little longer than normal.
My journal makes an appearance later in the day this time of year, as I quickly scribble down my thoughts and feelings about our day, and the magical moments I don't want to forget, along with all the to do lists, grocery lists, meal plans, summer plans, and more. I am in full planning mode for the summer. We are not traveling at all this summer, instead, staying home, enjoying this space, and welcoming friends here and there for some overnight visits. I will have two extra kiddos here, on Thursday's, for the month of July, there are swimming lessons planned for Reece, and a few family day trips. A simple, but fun summer.
Once the journal is tucked away, the evenings are filled with reading, knitting, and homeschool planning for next year...grade 1, my friends, grade 1. The little one who has joined us the last two years on our homeschooling journey will be joining us for grade 1, and that has made my little man very happy. The two of them have a very special relationship, and it makes my mama heart sing to watch it grow, develop and change, as they themselves grow and change.
Someone was asking about our life the other week, questions about how we live, homeschooling, how we spend our days, why we spend so much time in nature, and so on. When I finished talking about our life, she paused as if she was taking it all in. It's a pretty simple life she said, and I nodded my head, with a smile, simply saying, yes.