Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Gardening Experiment

Crazy thing about Montana...the climate is wildly different from Texas. We're in hardiness zone 5a here and 8b back home. So at a time when I'm used to nurturing along tomato plants that I've already moved outside, I instead find myself planting "winter crops" like carrots and peas. We don't plan on being here long term, so we didn't want to put a lot of money or effort into an extensive garden or learning how to best garden in this zone. We're taking the easy way out and hoping to get something out of it.

We bought 10 laundry baskets on sale for $0.90 each and cut the bottoms off of them:


We also bought bagged soil at the local hardware store. Oh, and communed with the dirt. Because dirt is good. We love dirt. (though I once read a book that proposed soil may be offended when we refer to it as plain ol' dirt, so maybe I should stick with the term soil)
Then we gathered up some red potatoes that I had forgotten to cook that were sprouting in the kitchen
And we put those at the bottom of two of the baskets with a fairly shallow layer of dirt on top of them. I had also scraped up the grass for these baskets so the potatoes went straight onto soil. As the plant grows, we will continue to add more soil because potatoes will continue to put out tubers along the stem if you keep adding soil.
Secora practiced her managerial skills and worked on making a little vitamin D
When the other 8 baskets were filled with soil, I gave the girls handfuls of peas and had them plant 3 baskets
We also planted two baskets with carrot seeds, and two baskets with spinach seeds. All of these, in the varieties we chose anyway, can be planted densely: 16 plants per square foot in a "square foot gardening" set up. Hopefully going with these plants will maximize our yield for the money we put in. The last basket will be planted with a few brussels sprouts seedlings.

Thanks to some ideas I got from the Classroom Victory Garden Project, this will also be tied into our school work. The garden related activities I have planned:
  • Drawing a picture of each type of seed and then drawing each type of seedling when it first comes up. We'll also spend some time drawing the blooms and the mature plant (great way to reinforce plant identification so your kids pull weeds and not vegetables in the garden).
  • Growing With Gravity activity to determine if the direction you plant a seed has an effect on which way the root grows.
  • Make some pretty vases out of old jars and colored sand (we are also planting some flowers, so maybe they'll be able to collect some this summer to go in the vases)
  • Sierra recently finished reading the Kit Kittredge Series from the American Girl books, so we've talked about the Great Depression and gardening/food preservation during that time. We are currently reading Little House in the Big Woods (I read it to her), so we've also talked a lot about self-sufficiency.
  • Obviously, there's also just the knowledge of how to grow a garden and prepare the food for a meal.
Now if spring would just get here, we'd be good to go! There are some signs that it might actually show up, but it did snow yesterday...

Update: The garden one month later


4 comments:

Leslea said...

Ok, silly question but how does the soil not fall out of the sides of the baskets??

The Hills said...

It does fall out to a certain extent, but less than you'd think. We tried this once years ago and just drilled holes in the bottom and the water didn't drain well enough, so that's why we cut the bottoms off completely and left the sides open this time ;-)

Carletta said...

Great project! I want to start a garden with the kids, but I know nothing at all about gardening, and at this point, I'm not motivated enough to learn.

I love your photos and product ideas, though. Your baby is adorable!

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hopped over from the Carnival. Great ideas. We love gardening.

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