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            1. Showing posts with label Gardening with Kids. Show all posts
              Showing posts with label Gardening with Kids. Show all posts

              Thursday, May 8, 2014

              Must Knows for Garden in a Bag

              If you haven't already read Garden in a Bag please check it out.
              Kids building Garden in a Bag
              The information that follows is what you need to know before starting your Garden in a Bag. The information below has been adjusted for the United States from the Kenyan method used there by Bridges International Development.

              Just a bit of planning is needed in order to make sure that you bag is a success. Also, don't forget to include your kids. This is a great project to teach them about people around the world as well as an opportunity to pray with them!  My kids (2yrs and  8yrs) really enjoyed building this bag. In fact, if we are able to get plenty bags, they want to plant their very own.

              Finding feedbags suitable for using as a Garden in a Bag
              
              White bag is example of what you need for
               Garden in a Bag
              The feed bags available in the United States are much smaller than Kenyan bags due to our unit of measurements being different. You will also want to be very cautious of the bag material.  Many birdseed bags or dog food bags look like they would work, but don't use them. The ones that I have found so far have a plastic outer coating that will not allow the water to percolate properly. The green bag in the photo is an example of what you don't want. It's fibers are tightly woven and it has a thick plastic outer coating.

              You are looking for a bag most likely from a feed store or mill that has a loose weave of the plastic fibers without any additional plastic coating on the inside or outside. The white bag in the photo is an example of what you do want.

              Burlap bags will not work for this method. They will deteriorate before the summer is over in most locations and disappoint you. They will also dry out too fast.

              Remember, if you are local and able you probably will be able to receive a bag from thechurch.at’s mission department.

              Placement of your Garden in a Bag
              First, let me say that if you are in an apartment or rent house this low cost Garden in a Bag method will work great!  If you happen to be on the other end of the spectrum and are a home gardener with an expansive vegetable garden - you know who you are - you no longer have grass in your yard because it is all growing beds - this method is for you also!

              Once you build your bag you will not be able to move it. The bag will have a center column of stones and be very heavy. This center column is vital for the bag to function properly and allow water to percolate though the entire bag. If you do manage to move your bag without ripping it most likely your center column will no longer be intact. 

              Placement is key.  You will be planting the entire diameter of your bag. So if everything you plant needs full sun, you want to make sure that your bag will be in full sun throughout the day.  This means morning sun would get ½ your bag and evening sun would shine on the other ½ giving you the full 6-8 hours of sun many garden vegetables need.  If you will only have partial sun then think about planting herbs or lettuces on the side that will receive limited sun. Limited sun will keep lettuces and herbs from bolting, especially when the summer gets hot.

              Plants for your Garden in a Bag
              This low-water high density planting method is great! You only have a couple of limiting factors, sunlight, and in the United States (due to bag size) plant size. If you would like to grow a tomato in your bag you will want to grow it in the top and use a patio variety or else plan on limiting it’s growth.  Remember that you probably don’t want your top plant shading your others (unless that is in your plan). 

              This bag will hold a ton of plants. My initial planting I had 7 plants to put in thinking that would come close to filling it up. I didn’t do any calculations – math just isn’t my favorite.  Needless to say, I will be going back with at least 6 or 7 more plants.  I started with a Ukrainian Purple Tomato, 2 Bell Peppers, 2 Mini Sweet Peppers, and 2 Strawberries. I plan to add Oregano and Black Opal Basil, Sweet Basil and possibly another Bell Pepper.
               
              Excess Food
              Most likely you will grow excess food. What do I mean by this, food that will spoil before you have a chance to use it. Please grow what you need and then be sure to share the rest! What a great a great way to start a conversation with that neighbor that maybe you've never talked with than giving them some of your fresh home grown garden vegies. Also, many food banks desperately need your donation, no matter what the size. If you are unsure of where to take your donation check out Ample Harvest. Food banks from around the country have signed up requesting home gardeners donations.

              Prayer
              Each time you go out to work in your Garden in a Bag pray for the people, the missions in Kenya and Bridges International Development.


              Coming Next… Step by Step Method for planting your Garden in a Bag


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              Garden in a Bag

              In Kenya, Bridges International Development is combating hunger by teaching people how to grow their food in bags. These are nothing other than feed bags used for livestock or grain that have been repurposed. Bridges has partnered with thechurch.at to share this agricultural technique and raise awareness for the missions in Kenya. I am honored to be asked to participate in this project by receiving the first grow bag from thechurch.at and sharing the adapted United States techniques with you.
              
              http://bridgesid.org/economic-development/garden-in-a-bag/
              Bridges with a Kenyan and his Garden in a Bag
              The key motive behind bringing the Garden in a Bag project to the United States is to pray for the ongoing missions in Kenya and for people to share similar experiences while growing in the bags.

              With many parts of the US now facing lingering drought just as in Kenya and water being so precious, often even rationed, this low-water growing technique is extremely beneficial.

              You can participate in this project a few ways. Prayer for the missions and people of Kenya while working the bags and for the project is key. If you are close to one of the thechurch.at's locations (Tulsa, OK or Dupage, IL) then contact the mission's department and as grow bags are available you can pick one up and get started. The feed bags are donated to the church as they are emptied, so quantities available will vary.  If they happen to be out of bags currently or you aren't close I will give you tips on locating a bag suitable to grow in on the next post.  

              Coming next... How to set up and plant your garden in a bag


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              Photo Courtesy of  Bridges International Development's website

               

              Monday, August 26, 2013

              Quick & Easy way to Plant up Strawberry Runners

              If you have grown strawberry plants before you probably know that they spread like crazy very quickly.  They spread by sending out runners as soon as the strawberries start to slow in production.  If your plants are grown in the ground keeping up with these runners can become a pain very quickly.

              When we started our Strawberry plants a few years back I told our son that he was in charge of them.  He had to water them, pick them, and best yet... share them with the family!  The strawberries grown in a pot on our back porch have proven to be a fun gardening adventure for him and especially our toddler.

              Strawberry Runners Ready to Pot Up
              We have managed to create a fun and easy way to keep up with the runners, maintain easy
              maintenance, keep our small porch clutter free, and share our plants.  Here is what we do...

              Materials Needed:
              3 or 4 small pots
              potting soil

              Method:
              When a cluster of leaves form on the end of a runner, or several runners this is your Que that it is time to begin.  You will need 1 pot for each runner.  You will be placing the smaller pots inside of the larger pot (containing the mother plant).  If you have more runners than you can fit pots just snip off the extra runners. Many more runners will form and you can pot those up after the first batch finishes.

              First fill your small pots with potting soil. Then one at a time take the leaf cluster and push it into the soil in the pot. Next move some of the leaves in your big pot and set your small pot inside your big pot.  Just repeat this until you have all your runners potted and placed inside your big pot.  The picture above shows strawberry runners ready to pot up.  It also shows 3 pots inside of the larger pot!

              When you water your main pot you will also be watering your babies.  You will also have a clutter free patio... well at least from starter pots.

              Strawberry Plants ready to have Runners Cut
              You will wait a few weeks and then you can gently wiggle the baby plant to make sure that the roots are growing well.  Generally after about one month the roots will be substantial enough that you can then cut the runner between the mother plant and the new plant.  You might even find that after a month roots are growing through the baby plant's pot down into the dirt of the mother plant.  This is a sure sign that your plant is ready to cut free!

              As soon as you cut the new plants free, share them with friends or pot them up in a new larger pot to increase your strawberry production next year.  Don't forget to start this process again to keep those runners in-check!

              Tip:
              Be sure to save your small pots from other plants so you can reuse them.  If you don't have any small pots on hand you can repurpose plastic or styrofoam drink containers. Just make sure you poke holes for drainage.

               
               
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              Friday, July 26, 2013

              Use a Dirt Box to Teach Gardening Skills and for Imaginative Play

              Many of us as kids growing up either had a back yard sandbox or had access to one to play in. Remember how much fun it was?  Kids just love to play in sand.


              Use a Dirt Box to teach gardening skills and for imaginative play
              Recently after visiting a friend's home who kept her sandbox in a tub for easy storage and seeing how much all the kids loved to play in it, I knew we needed one. I changed ours up a little, though.  We have a dirt box for the kids to play in, learn to use gardening tools, and pot up plants instead of a sandbox.
              Part of the time the dirt box is used by the kids to pot up plants for me. The other, you guessed it... a box of dirt to play in and let their imaginations run wild.  When not helping me, my seven year old uses the dirt box as a mini dirt bike track for his toy motorcycles or a dirt track/mud pit for his monster trucks.  My one year old loves to rake it, fill pots, build mud castles and run her brothers dirt bikes through it, mimicking the sounds he makes. 

              The great thing about this box is that it's very easy to add varying amounts of water and change its use; the kids can even take care of that part for me. If you add too much water, just tilt the box and drain the water out. An added benefit of the box is that you can keep it on the patio and slide it under a chair when not in use. Of course, if you find yourself in a situation when you need to divide or pot something up quickly, you have it handy and the kids know how to help.

              Materials Needed:
              Potting soil or seed starting soil
              Shallow Storage Tub - lid optional
              Any toys or plastic tools you desire

              Method:
              Scoop or pour some soil into the box, let the kids help. We used enough to make the dirt about an inch deep. You want to make sure that you use potting soil or seed starting soil instead of just dirt from the ground. Ordinary ground dirt in most cases will become a hard dry mess, or could have all kinds of nasties in it. 

              Periodically I add more potting soil, either because we pot up plants, or it is lost due to water drainage. We lost the lid to our tub before it was put into use as a dirt box, so the kids love it when it rains! Instant mud track or lake, depending on the amount of rain we receive.

              Note:
              If you don't have an potting or seed starting soil around, Walmart sells small bags for less than $1. If you don't see it outside, sometimes it is in by the seed starting mix.

              I highly recommend plastic garden tools, because they will most likely get wet.  Also, if your kids are anything like mine, sometimes they get thrown and used as sparing tools!



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              Monday, July 22, 2013

              Do you have Produce to Donate?

              Have your tomato plants started pumping out more tomatoes than you can eat? I sure hope so. If you are being over run with more produce than you can handle, I have a very easy solution for you.

              Oklahoma Gardening a few weeks back featured Ample Harvest. This non-profit maintains a database of Food Pantries by Zip Code that desire fresh produce donations from local gardeners.
              AmpleHarvest.org
              Donate Home Grown Produce
              Just in my Zip Code alone there were 15 locations listed.  I have been donating to the college where I teach.  The students really enjoy the variety of foods and plants I bring in.  The reason I donate there is two fold. First because it is very convenient for me to drop it off; second, because there a so many in need.

              A few questions that the site covers are ones such as what if you only have one type of produce or even just a few pieces.  Would the food bank still want your food.  The answer is Yes! The produce you bring will be pooled with that of other backyard gardeners in your area. Also, food is not required to be organically grown.

              Remember, the key thing is that food should not be wasted, especially when so many Americans are having a hard time feeding their families.

              Your bounty, large or small, will help to diminish hunger in America. 

              Hopefully you were able to plant a few extra plants this year, or plan to for the fall, and will be soon be able to donate produce.  Please let us know if you are able to donate. Don't forget to encourage your friends as well.

              This is a great way to demonstrate God's love, so be sure to get your children envolved!

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              Monday, May 27, 2013

              Indoor Onion Garden in a Glass

              Indoor Onion Garden
              Did you know that you can reuse your Green Onions by growing them again & again? Have you ever heard of re-growing onions in your kitchen window?  

              It is very simple and really quite amazing to watch. You can keep reusing the same green onions over and over again. Just cut off what you need and watch the onion regrow within a few days right before your eyes!

              If you didn’t grow any green onions in your garden this spring, just pick up a pack at the store. This is a great way to keep the ones you buy at the store fresh until you need them.  Your kids will be amazed by the onions that you can see regrow 1/2 an inch to 1 inch overnight!

              Materials Needed:
              Green onion bulb with roots
              Glass or container
              Water
              Sunlight

              Method:
              Place your green onions in a container with just enough water to cover the roots and a few millimeters up the bulb.  When you have a recipe that calls for green onions, or you just want a snack, cut off the amount you desire.  In order to regrow the onion make sure to leave ¾ to 1 inch of the white bulb and roots.

              Tip:
              Change the water and prune your onion garden in a glass every week to keep it fresh and mold away.
              If your container is too deep you can ad some rocks to the bottom. This helps them stand up also.



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              Tuesday, January 8, 2013

              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

              A 2 liter pop bottle makes a great seed starter and mini greenhouse. Not only does it keep the seeds warm and protected for quick germination, but it also works well as a permanent pot.  As an added bonus with this method, the bottle top allows you to keep your tender seedlings covered longer and requires less maintenance than typical store bought systems.

              You don’t need to spend money on fancy kits, or plastic gardening containers to start seeds or grow plants. Use the instructions below to create your own green house that fits great on your windowsill; perfect for your windowsill garden.
              Pop Bottle Greenhouse Planter
              Materials Needed
              Potting Mix
              2 liter bottle with cap
              Scissors
              Kids – if available

              Method:
              First, cut the bottle across the center at the point where the midsection is uniform – before and after the curves.  The bottom section will be your pot and the top section will be your cover “green house.”  Now you will want to pre-moisten your potting soil.  I like to do this in the bottom section (pot). Add water until the soil sticks together and stir it up.  Make sure there are no dry spots in your soil.

               Next you will make 2 or 3 small drainage holes – less than the diameter of a straw in the lowest point in the bottom edges of the pot.  You can use the end of a pen or scissors to poke a small hole in the bottom; you don’t need to remove the soil.  Just tip the pot to the side and make the holes. Note: if your soil was really wet, water will drain out when you set the pot upright.

              Now for the top, cut a small slit in the side of the top so that the plastic can slide against itself and the top piece can fit snuggly inside the bottom pot.  This is now your greenhouse & future shield.

               Result:
              Assembled Greenhouse Planter
              You have a pot with soil ready to be planted. Just plant your seed/seeds and place the lid on top.  If you need to vent your greenhouse, just remove the cap.  Make sure to replace the cap when you have finished venting so that your soil will not dry out. 

              Depending on the type of plant you are growing, you may not need to transplant your seedling at all, just grow it in your 2 liter pot. 
               
              If you are planning on transplanting your plant outside, you can grow your seedling in your pot longer and larger before you need to plant it outside.  You can then use your top as a shield from the wind outside as you are hardening your plant off, or to protect your plant from a dip in temperature outside.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

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              Wednesday, December 5, 2012

              Drip Irrigation System – the Repurpose way!


              Do you have a plant or tree that is a pain in the rump to water? Do you ask yourself every time you drag your water hose over to it, why in the world did I plant this here? Maybe you are going on vacation and you don’t want to worry if your plants will be alive when you get back.
              Here is a Free easy way to create your own drip irrigation system. The best part is that it only takes about 10 minutes to setup from start to finish! 

              This is also a great project to enlist kids to help you with! Little shovels are perfect and since the project only takes a few minutes to complete, kids will be able to finish without losing interest.

              Materials Needed:
              Empty Gallon Milk Container or 2 litter Pop Bottle with a lid
              Shovel
              Ice Pick, Punch, Nail, or something sharp to poke holes
              Kids (if available)

               
              You are going to use 1 Milk Container or Bottle for each 4 foot circumference area you wish to water. After you determine what plants, bushes, or trees you would like to water add up how many containers you are going to need. You will repeat the method for each one.

               
              Kid's Gardening Project
              Method: Using something sharp, you will poke 4 small holes in the bottom of the plastic container. The more holes you poke the faster the water will drain from your container, meaning you will have to refill it more often.  If you have a water hungry plant, I suggest sinking more bottles in the ground instead of poking more holes. This way you will have to drag the hose out less often.





               
              Next, you will dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to sink your bottle into the ground leaving only the spout above ground. Keep the lid on the bottle to keep dirt out and remove when you are refilling it. I keep my spout about one inch above the ground, this way I can easily find it, but low enough so that the lawn mower can pass over without damaging the bottle.

              Repurposed Drip Irrigation Container
              Now place your bottle in the hole, replace the dirt around it. Tamp the dirt down around the bottle. Grab your hose and fill the bottle.  If the ground is dry you will notice the water level in the bottle drop in a few minutes.  If your ground is moist then it will take longer before you notice the level drop.

              Filling Drip Irrigation Container





              Result:
              You have a Free, scalable, and easy to manage drip irrigation system that delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. You are also free to go on vacation and not worry about that tree or bush that your sprinkler or other watering system doesn’t reach.  Just don’t forget to check on it periodically and add water If you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends.


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