Christmas in the Garden

Gardeners are nature lovers at heart, and probably healthy, too. But interior designers with a creative flair that rivals Martha Stewart? Oh, wait. She’s a gardener AND an interior designer whiz. Huh. Bad analogy. But you see where I’m going with this–who says gardeners can’t transform their love of gardening into gorgeous home décor?

No one. No one on this blog, anyway. I mean, is this wreath the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

carrot wreath

I think so. And immediately my mind starts improvising–why not radishes? Garlic? Except for the small fact that my garlic won’t be mature until May-June, I think it would make an excellent wreath adornment. Don’t you? For complete how-to instructions for this carrot gem, head on over to HGTV. Those folks are incredible! I’m sure you’ll find a ton of things to create for your home.

But if you’re not into the DIY, how about an old classic?


Rosemary plants make for great Christmas décor and they smell good. Love it!

Looking for a few gifts for those gardeners in your life? Personally, I’d enjoy receiving this crafty invention. Got herbs? Water?

Flavor infuser wtaer bottle

Let the hydration begin!

I mean, whoever thought up the idea for a “flavor infuser water bottle” has my vote for Gift of the Year. Fabulous! Find it and more at Uncommon Goods. While you’re there, check out the Garden in a Can set–definitely fun for the beginner gardeners in your life. When it comes to young gardeners, Show Me The Green! makes a great gift for the elementary readers poking about the veggie plants.

Venetta, Dianne- Show Me the Green! (RGB)

Not only fun, but this fiction book set in and around an organic garden is informative and can inspire even the most urban among us to head outside and get digging. Book #2 centers on a school garden and is set for release spring 2016. Check out the website for full details.

Have any favorites of your own? Do share and Merry Christmas!


Think “OUTside” the Garden

With so many things to do in the garden, it’s a wonder you can plan for tomorrow, let alone next week or month—but you should try.  The payoff will be well worth it.  From fastidious pruning for an increase in yield, to prepping for vegetable storage when your harvest comes in, you’ll want to be ready for the abundance of joy you’re going to reap!

What should you be thinking about when it comes to crafting this marvelous plan?  Why, your kids for one!  Are they weeding?  Digging?  Bug dispatching?  Wonderful!  Reward them with some “down-time” in the garden, as in “no chores.”  You do want them to come back, don’t you?

teacher's gift

We’ve all heard about creating the classic corn husk dolls, but have you considered using those same husks to make mini baskets?  Basket weaving is an excellent exercise for little fingers to practice dexterity—beats the DS hands down—as well as producing a keepsake for their bedroom, or a share for school.

Growing berries?  Perfect!  How about mixing them with a dash of organic sugar and make your own preserves?  They make great teacher gifts.  Speaking of teachers, how about teaching your children the value of seed saving?  When all these vegetables reach maturity, they’ll be chock-full of seeds.   How about collecting them and storing them in your very own seed packets?  (You can find simple how-to templates in the Kid Buzz section here on the website) More

This One’s for You, Mom

Today I planned to post another chapter in the lives of my students and their school garden, including the addition of a few photos from my homegrown blueberry patch, perhaps a few analogies between kids and plants…

But then my daughter surprised me with an early Mother’s Day gift.

Kids.  They really are the only gift a mother needs on yet another Sunday in a busy calendar year…  Of course they’re not satisfied with merely existing.  Oh, no–they need to be noticed and fussed over, coddled and loved; they’re basically miniature adults in this regard.  And like adults who need to be loved, they also need to love, and share.  As she did with me today.

Now, not to take away from her delivery, but when my child walks up to me and prefaces the bestowing of a gift with an “I need you to pay attention” — as if I don’t ALWAYS pay attention when she’s bearing gifts!–I get a little nervous.  My evening news was over (a definite pre-requisite in our household, because it’s the only time “I” get to watch television), and it was me who called her out to the living room for the specific purpose of her gift-giving — per her request — I must admit, I was somewhat wary. 

“Pay attention?” I replied.  “Why wouldn’t I pay attention?  You’re giving me prizes!”

Grinning, hiding my gift behind her back, she wanted to be sure.  “Okay.  Are you ready?”

I glanced around the empty, quiet room.  “Yes, I think so…”

Unable to contain herself, she whipped out the cards and handed them to me.  “I made you these at school.”

Watercolor renditions of a garden.  A compilation of all the beautiful flowers that surround our home.  I do love flowers.  There were four in total; one large and three smaller.  “They’re beautiful, honey.  Thank you!”

Her smile took total control of her face then as she was clearly pleased by my response.  But they are beautiful.  The largest one had a hand-written note inside about how wonderful I am (thank you for finally noticing!) while the other three were custom note cards for my personal use (her teacher reduced her original painting which she showcased against bright orange paper).  “They’re perfect.”

She proceeded to explain to me how I was to use them, then remained seated next to me, steeped in my admiration.

Looking at her, an unrestrained bundle of joy and innocence, elation and pride, I was reminded once again how precious children are and how lucky I am to be a mother.  This child is golden, through and through.  Sure she bickers with her brother, snips at me most mornings and complains about my dinner selection–who doesn’t?  Though in her card, she was kind enough to mention I was a good cook.

But that’s real life.  You get the good with the bad, the fun with the not-so-fun, the green with the brown (that’s garden lingo).  You get it all. 

If you’re lucky.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t quite evolved to that place where I could live in la-la happy land all the time and be happy.  I need contrast.  I need lessons.  I need growth.  Reminders like today aid me in that path and I’m thankful, each and every day.

This weekend it’s Mother’s Day and we’ll focus on mom, but in reality, everyday is mother’s day–and father’s day, children’s day, grandparents day…  With the right attitude, every day is ours, and one to be celebrated.

To all my fellow moms, have a happy Mother’s Day and enjoy!  They’re prepared to please

Engaging Kids in the Garden

And by this I mean both verb and noun.  Kids are a hoot in the garden.  Not only do they come up with some of the most amazing theories about nature at work, but they delight in the simplest of discoveries (a joy for any parent to watch).

But how do you get kids INTO the garden?  In general, kids tend to avoid chores like homework.  Sure, they understand it’s part of the deal, but if they can shortcut the process somehow…

…then by all means, they’re shorting!  However, if the garden presents adventure and discovery, you won’t be able to keep them out.  Bugs, rare finds, lost coins, worms, butterflies, animal poop–having your own garden equates to big time excitement!  And then of course there’s harvest time.  What kid doesn’t like to eat yummy food?

Stop laughing.  I’m serious! Vegetables can be yummy for kids, so long as they’re “staged” in the proper fashion.  (Note to parents of daughters:  while I don’t literally mean fashion, you can use this angle to get your girls in the garden.  How?  My daughter plays with her Polly’s among the branches and trellis’ and has quite the time of it, creative little thing that she is!).   But truthfully, lure them with the promise of baking healthy french fries and potato chips together.  

Packing carrots with the greens intact makes for amazing bragging rights (wonderful cupcakes, too).  Even broccoli snapped from the stalk seems a whole lot more alluring to kids than the shrink-wrapped store-bought kind.  I mean, what lucky person had the right to break all those “trees” from the stalks?

Not your kids.  Trust me–they want their chance.  It’s fun to harvest vegetables!  Pulling carrots from their hiding places, swimming for buried treasure–er, potatoes.  It’s a blast!  And the sheer pride they derive from planting seeds, watching them grow… 

It’s truly a wonderful experience.  Have them grow their own herbs, too, and then dry them in oven.  They’re perfect for sprinkling on pizza, pasta–you name it!  Not to mention they make great gifts for friends and family, and dare I mention…teachers?  End of the school year is approaching fast, but don’t worry if your child doesn’t have their own garden yet–they can practice with fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store!  My kids and I recently went strawberry picking and ended up with flats of excess berries.  What did we do?

Made our own homemade preserves.  (It’s easier than you think.)  Check my recipe section for complete how-to instructions and don’t forget Mom!  With Mother’s Day on the horizon, your kids will enjoy giving her the gift of nature with satchels of lavender and rosemary, or painting a planter pot at the local paint and glaze shop. We have an awesome one in our area.  Check your local listings for one near you. 

While we’re talking rosemary, try using some to make rosemary lemonade!  Or how about making homemade aromatherapy oils?  Hmmm…  Moms love that kind of stuff.  I should know–I am one!

For those who “know how to sew,” how about creating a garden apron?  Worked to get my daughter excited about the garden…  And it’s too cute to pass.  For those rebel do-it-yourselfers, I’ve included the “apron-construction-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” patternI do love a challenge.

Now that we’re all dressed up, how about hosting a harvest party?  Better yet, invite your childs’ friends over for a potato swim or carrot dig!  They will surely be the hit of the neighborhood.  And there are some awfully cute garden-style invitations to choose from out there.   I couldn’t resist.

And when they finish with their first season, encourage sustainability with custom-designed seed saving packets. Instructions are right here under the Kid Buzz section of this website and they are way cool.

No matter which path you choose, gardening with kids is tons of fun and a true joy.  Plant seeds of love together, and watch your relationship grow.