Tuesday, July 31, 2018

15 Ways Gardening is Like Dating

These days, when we first get to the garden, the race is on to see what's grown and what's ready to pick. 


We found cucumbers and peppers today, cleaned and sorted..

 ...and ate some.

The watermelon is growing out of it's spot and into the horseshoe pits next door so it needed some trimming. 


The beans were also on their way out into the path so they got a trim.
The cucumbers needed more place to climb so more string was added for them.. It's a healthy, thriving garden!

There was excitement over finding three bees in a pumpkin blossom. (By the time the camera arrived one had left.)

The snapdragons are beginning to re-bloom after taking a little break from the intense heat. Some of the kids had never seen them "talk" so that was a great discovery.

After the watering, weeding and discovering, we used a game to identify 15 traits of gardeners, such
as " "They are adaptable and flexible", "They are creative", and "They know how to deal with setbacks." Participants chose cards, one at a time, and decided which of 5 headings on the game board they thought the trait belonged under, and explained their choice.  After they placed it others had a chance to explain where they might have put it and why. 

This was then tied into relationships with those 15 traits being identified as strategies to stay safe in a dating relationship.

Kids were encouraged to think about these things before they date so they aren't taken by what could be a bad surprise.

Listening to them  is always interesting, and sometimes very funny.

Next week: Healthy Harvesting

 Just for fun...the beauty of the tendrils of the cucumbers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

With a Little Help From Our Friends

It's hard to believe, but we are in our 11th week of Hands for Growing!

It's getting more exciting each week because now there are new discoveries every time we come.

The watermelon are climbing out of their space so vines got put back or trimmed.

Today there was a cucumber that was ready to eat....

so we did.

This is not such a great discovery. One of our tomato plants looks like the heat was getting the best of it. But, it's loaded with tomatoes so we're hoping that a good deep drink will perk it up.

We're trying something new. It's a Garden Care Tracker. Each week the teams will record what they did, (water, weed, deadhead) and how their plants look. It might be fun at the end of the season to look back and be reminded of the progress. Also, I think the kids will be proud when they see a record of all the work they've done.

 After all the basics - and the cucumber eating, we got down to the subject for the day - With a little help from our friends.  We talked about times our friends have helped us, or when we've helped our friends.

We identified ways the plants in the garden can benefit from friends. Some people are sure that companion planting (planting specific plants next to each other) helps them grow better. The science is still out on this one, but many gardeners swear by it.

We turned our attention to bugs/insects. In the garden there are "bad" bugs - those that eat and destroy our plants - and
"good bugs" - those that eat and destroy the bugs that eat and destroy our plants. We looked at some of the "good" bugs on a printed sheet and on an app called "Good Bugs".

And then the hunt was on...on leaves, under leaves, on the ground in the grass and wood chips.

The most surprising discovery was this little yellow spider.

None of us had ever seen a yellow spider before so this was an exciting discovery...until it jumped onto someone's leg. Then there was screaming.

 After that we discussed ways to help a friend by identifying listening skills and sharing examples.

As a follow-up on last weeks' session on peer pressure we divided into teams and played a game of jeopardy. It's heartening to hear how much they know about peer pressure - good and bad. The game was a hit!

Next week: How Gardening is Like Dating

Here's a little extra just for fun....

Do Bugs Sleep? What do you think? Most of the kids thought they did.

Well...it's hard to say. 

They don't have eyelids, so we can't see them close their eyes to catch a nap.

And, while scientists can measure brain waves in people and other animals, no one has figured out how to measure the brain waves in an insect.

We do know that they go into a state that resembles sleep, called torpor. Here are three unusual ways to "sleep" from the insect world.

Certain bees "sleep" by holding onto a plant just with their jaws. They just hang out for a while.  (That impressed the kids.)

Monarch butterflies "sleep" in groups. You have less chance of getting picked off by a predator when you're in a group, maybe your neighbor will get it and you'll be safe. (That impressed the kids.)

And here is the strangest one of all -
the giant New Zealand weta (who can get up to 3.5 inches...just measure that!) lives where it gets very cold at night. So, they "go to sleep" and freeze solid.
The next day, as it warms up, they thaw out and go about their business. (That  REALLY impressed the kids!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Oh, the Pressure!

It was a dark and stormy night....last night....except for the almost constant lightning.

The good news is that rain in town measured between .9 and 1.5 inches! The not so good news is that corn in some gardens was pushed down.

At our Hands for Growing garden the corn looked a little disheveled but all in all, really good. 

And, there are ears of corn peeking out!

 No watering was needed, so our scarecrow, Jack, got a haircut.                                     

And then, there was this...

....what are they all looking at?


melon that has grown into the hole in the concrete block.
We worked and worked to get it out but it has become one with the block. So, when it's ripe we'll just cut if off at the bottom and enjoy the top!

Eventually, we got to the planned session today, which was pressure. We talked about times we feel pressured, and what that's like. There were only 6 participants today (fair week, family visits, etc) so we divided into 2 groups and made up skits showing examples of situations where kids might feel pressured.

Some of the kids felt pressure by having to come up with a skit and present it!

After that we talked about the reason for flowers on plants. Without flowers there are no seeds, without seeds, there are no more plants. And since our growing season here is limited plants are under a lot of pressure to produce seeds.

We hunted for seeds, which were taped onto paper and labeled. The hunting was funny and exciting, and turned competitive.

There were times when they thought they found seeds, but it turned out to be pollen or some other little part of the plant. We also discovered the plants whose seeds have been dispersed and those whose seeds are not ripe. 
                         At the end of the hunt the two groups shared their discoveries.

                                              We turned our attention then to peer pressure. We started by answering questions about peer pressure and shared answers and discussed. 

Because the group was so full of energy today, we changed locations and had a lot of engagement in a discussion on what peer pressure is and isn't. 
It's exciting to see when ideas pop into their heads and they share them with each other.
To wrap us this busy, funny, energetic day everyone got to choose from the prize bag. That is always a hit!    
Next week: A Little Help From Our Friends

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Oh my goodness, has it been hot! We are in a week of upper 90's, which is great for wheat harvest, but hard on people!

Water, always important in the garden, is even more so now. We gave everything a little extra water today to get it through the coming days of heat.

It was fun discovering new little watermelon, tomatoes and peppers!

Today's garden piece was about respect in the garden. We had a poster with the headings, Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be an Ally. We named specific ways to accomplish each of those and took turns writing it on the poster. Pairs of participants had paper copies to work on and all of them got passed from pair to pair as we moved through the page so that everyone would have a part in creating the main poster.

After a break to
 run off some energy, and a great snack of popcorn and watermelon, we moved to the relationship piece of the day.

We talked about the many ways we can respect each other, identifying specific actions that show respect. We talked a great deal about respect for ourselves. After all, if we don't have genuine respect for ourselves it's going to be hard to have respect for anyone else.

Each person filled in a heart shape with things that they like to do  and things they like about themselves. That generated a lot of conversation.

This week there is homework...come back next week with a list of things you can compliment yourself for, and each day this week sincerely compliment someone. That's alot of positive for the coming week!

Next week: Oh, the Pressure

15 Ways Gardening is Like Dating

These days, when we first get to the garden, the race is on to see what's grown and what's ready to pick.     We f...