Hi everyone! Sorry I have not posted much the past month! We have been busy welcoming another addition to our family! Lemon Drop #2 was born at the end of April. I am working in several new post that I will put up soon. In the meantime, please enjoy a picture of our two lemon drops meeting each other!
It has been a while since I posted on here… raising a toddler and growing another can really use up your time! Taking a stroll out to the garden and picking a small harvest in the dead of winter reminded me that it was about time to write another post…
Collards, Kale, Carrots and Leeks are a few of the crops that do well in the cold climate of Connecticut winter… and that is just what I picked!
I left a bunch of carrots in the garden to winter over as an experiment. When I picked the carrots in the summer they tasted bitter and I wondered how I could improve their taste. I heard that carrots like to be exposed to a little cold weather and it can improve their flavor so I tried it out… and you know what? Picking them in mid-January seemed to add some sweetness to them. a BIG improvement from the summertime taste. So, from now on, I am going to plan on planting carrots in the early spring (since those beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterflies to lay their eggs on the leaves and they cause minimal damage to the crop) and pick my carrots throughout the wintertime. If you have the same problem with bitter tasting carrots, give it a try too and see how it works!
One of my readers made a blog post suggestion to me: How do your protect your little seedlings from inclement weather? They had just planted their little garden and then heard on the news that heavy rain, strong winds and hail were in the forecast…
When your seedlings first begin to sprout out of the ground or get transplanted outside, there are a few things you can do to help protect them from a variety of threats that can come their way.
For starters, frost. Sometimes we have those crazy days were there is a ridiculously late frost just when we thought our seedlings were in the clear. Or, the forecast predicts heavy rains with possible hail and high winds as we glance out to the garden and wonder how the tiny seedlings will survive. Then, if your seedlings were fortunate enough to dodge inclement weather, there are the occasional birds that mistake your bean sprout for worm and scratch them out, the squirrels that tries to eat your seed pods or a bug of some sort that decides your garden leaves are the perfect birthing place for their little larva in the early spring.
So, here is something you can try…
Find and empty, plastic container. The best and most cost effective ones are soda bottles. Depending on the size of your plants, you may have to get a larger bottle (I am thinking of those large, plastic jars that pretzels come in). Cut the bottle in half and place it over your little plants. This will protect them from bugs, inclement weather, and frost since it acts as a mini greenhouse – holding in heat, protecting from frost and creating a plastic barrier from all the elements. There is one thing you MUST REMEMBER TO DO however. Remove the plastic cover once the threat has passed or is starts to really warm up outside. Otherwise, it will get very hot inside the container and your seedlings can shrivel up. This is really ment to be used for temporary protection, you don’t want to leave these on top of your plants all season long!
For this demo, I used a regular water bottle:
Once you have your plastic bottle, cut it in half with a pair of scissors ( TIP: It is a lot easier to start the cut if you puncture the bottle with something first)
Once cut in half, you bring the top half to the garden. I like to use the top half because it has the opening at the top which will still allow air in. carefully place the container over your seedlings and press it down into the soil to make sure a strong wind wouldn’t be able to blow it off:
And there you have it! A happily protected garden seedling
Happy Father's Day to all you terrific Dad's out there!
My dad's a pretty cool dude. But, he's also pretty hard to buy for. I know two things for certain about my father. 1. He likes to eat good food. 2. If you ask what he wants for birthday/Christmas/Father's Day, etc. The answer is always the same; "Nothing." Sometimes, I threaten to take him up on it, but I never do.
BAG BUG! … at least a bag bug to have in the garden…
These first two photographs were borrowed from www.butterfliesandmoths.org
This labeling of the Green Cabbage Worm as a bag bug has been a painful claim to make as I do love to have butterflies in the garden and I really try not to discourage their larva from growing. Other butterfly larva nibble on my garden crops without significant damage. The Green Cabbage Worm, on the other hand, is incredible destructive to garden crops. Especially Kale, Collard Greens, and Broccoli Rabe. This is the one bug that I fight most of my garden battles with.
The green cabbage worm can be tough to spot because they are the same green color as most of your garden greens and they like to hide out on the underside of the leaf:
Or right in the stem part of the leaf:
Their destruction is hard to miss however. If left alone, all your leaves will end up looking like this:
If you do cannot spot any green cabbage worms but notice a lot of dark green little droppings on the leaves, take a closer look! They are there somewhere! Here is the cabbage worm alongside some of their droppings:
In early spring, once my garden begins to grow, I inspect the underside of the leaves to try to detect the eggs before they hatch and pick them off. If I missed any, I will know for sure! The next step I take is I pick off the green caterpillars by hand. You can avoid having to do both these steps by covering your plants with a light mess to allow water and sunlight through but to avoid butterflies and other pests who try to lay eggs on your crops. If you are stuck picking the caterpillars off by hand and you happen to have chickens, feed them to your chickens! They will love you forever!
If you are a little late in searching for them, they may have already eaten their fill of your crops and set themselves up in their chrysalis:
If you see any Cabbage White Butterflies fluttering around your garden, they are probably laying eggs on your greens. One way to help prevent infestation is to look for and pick off the eggs they lay. Their eggs are small, yellow, oval-shaped eggs that are laid on the underside of the leaves. They are tiny and hard to find so you really have to look. Do you have any kids? Send them on a scavenger hunt for tiny, yellow eggs! Here is a close up shot of one of the eggs:
This is how the egg looks on the leaves at from a normal view-point:
Hard to see it? Here, I’ll help point it out:
Here is a website with some more information of the Cabbage Worm and what to do if you have them in your garden.
Here is a fun way to find out how much of what is in your garden soil. This can also be a great way for kids to learn about what makes up soil.
First, find a clear container that had a lid that will fit securely on top. I chose to use a mason jar.
Go outside and collect a soil sample. Try not to just skim the soil off the top, dig down and get some of the soil several inches down as well.
Mix up the soil and fill your container about half-way.
Now, add water to fill up the rest if your jar. Secure the lid on top and…
Shake Shake Shake! make sure you shake the soil for several minutes to be sure all the particles of the soil have a chance to separate. When you are almost finished, give the jar a little swirl and put it down on a counter or somewhere where you will not have to move it for several days.
Now comes the fun part! Watch as the soil starts to separate. You will probably notice right away that the sand and pebbles sink to the bottom of the jar first. Next, you will see the silt collect, then all the organic matter in your soil will float to the top. The water will appear murky for several days because the clay in the soil takes the longest time to settle and separate from the water.
Once everything has separated, get a piece of paper, hold it up to the jar and measure how much of what material is in the jar.
You can break it down to the percentages for an extra math challenge.
Here, you get to find out if you have too much of something in your soil or not enough. Also, your children get to learn about what makes up soil and you can throw in a little math lesson too!
There are a lot of play dough recipes out there and I have tried a few. This one is, so far, my favorite:
Homemade Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbs cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 Tbs vegetable oil
Mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Combine water and oil in a small bowl. Stir into flour mixture gradually. Cook over medium heat for approx. 5 minutes or until very thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Knead until smooth. Add food coloring of choice. Store in Container.
If you would like more detailed directions (with pictures!) Keep reading!
First, take out a sauce pan or stove-top pot of choice and add a cup of flour:
Next, add 1/2 cup of salt:
Then, add 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar and mix all the dry ingredients together:
Now, in a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil:
Add the water/oil combination to the flour/salt/cream of tartar mix and stir:
NOTE: I mixed in a little tumeric to give it a yellow color.
Cook over medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY until you see the mixture start to get really thick:
Now, take it off the heat, let it cool for a few minutes and knead it until it is smooth:
Finally, Let the kids try it out!
It is officially Lemon Drop Approved!
I also saved the old Play doh containers we had to store our new homemade play dough:
Came across this video – LOVE it! An easy, wallet-friendly way to do some silkscreen designs at home.
Lemon Drop is around 5 months old now and I noticed that he is starting to play with his own shadow when he is on the changing table. So, I figured I would make him some shadow puppets. They are easy to make, affordable and provide hours of entertainment for little ones! You can also make shadow puppets of the characters from your son/daughter’s favorite books or stories. If your kids are older, they can even make their own! Or, make a game out of it. Hold the image facing you as you are cutting them out and have them try to guess what you are cutting out before you finish!
What you need:
Cardstock paper (or any kind of heavy weight paper)
Flashlight and batteries
Draw a shape…or… if you aren’t confident in your drawing ability, run an image search online for silhouette images and trace them or print them on your cardstock paper
Next, cut the shapes out with a pair of scissors.
Tada! You have the making of a shadow!
Now, you have the option to just hold the shadow puppet with your hands or, attach each one to a stick so your hands do not get in the way. The easiest material you can use are kabob sticks. Just be sure to CUT OFF THE SHARP POINT!
Attach the kabob stick to the back of your shape with a piece of tape.
Make a whole assortment of different shadow puppets!
Think of the stories you read or tell… like the Tortoise and the Hare. Act it out with your shadow puppets.
Test your shadows out and have fun!
I am dedicating this blog to my 6 week son – Lemon Drop
…because I know in a few years I will be wondering what I can do with all the broken crayons around the house
If you are a few steps ahead of us and wondering that same thing right now, here’s an idea:
NOTE: If you want to do this WITH you children, use extra caution around the oven and when the crayons melt. Th wax can be hot and cause burns.
Old, broken crayons
Candy Mold (silicone works best!)
** Be sure the room is well ventilated and keep a close eye on the crayons so they do not start to smoke!
This is where silicone molds come in handy because you can bend and flex them in order to remove your crayon mold with ease.
Now, have fun coloring with your new crayons!