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Fresh Corn to Eat and For a Little Nature Study

I helped my dad in his garden today…picking corn! He has so much of it that he is tired of eating corn so our family was obliged to take some ears for our dinner. 🙂

He purchased Renee’s Garden seeds and planted three rows and all of it came up and is producing lots of sweet corn.

I was wishing I had some kids that could do a corn nature study using the Corn Study from the archives here on the Handbook of Nature Study as part of the Crop Plants series we did several years ago.

For now, I will just eat corn until we are tired of it!

Hopefully you all get the link to the newsletter with today’s post if you are a subscriber. If you don’t get the link, let me know. I can’t figure out why some didn’t get it yesterday.

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Late Summer Garden Harvest – 1000th Post!

Fruit 9 7 11 Grapes, Figs, and Pears
Garden Sampler – September 7, 2011

This is it….the 1000th post on this blog! Can you believe it???

I know that this blog has brought some great things into my life…people, experiences, and inspiration. I will just say thank you to all of my readers for all you have done to encourage our family since I started this blog in May 2009. I am so glad that I decided to start this blog and share our nature study adventures. The far-reaching affects of this decision are immeasurable.

Now for a garden update!

I was thinking that I have not done any garden updates for a very long time. My vegetable garden this year has been a huge disappointment and I know from talking to other gardeners in my local area that they have experienced the same thing in their home gardens. The daytime weather, the nighttime lower than average temperatures, and the long spring and extra rains made our gardens very confused. The tomatoes are all green still and the rest just never produced. The one thing we have had in abundance is green beans…those are plentiful.

Indian Corn and Colored Beans
Our Three Sisters Garden started off great but the pumpkins never really did anything but grow vines, the beans have been scrawny, and the corn has been okay. The colors are pretty anyway. I have pulled up the pumpkins and left the rest for a bit.

We have had some success in other areas. The grapes this year are abundant even if the grapes are sort of on the small side. Tasty and sweet….yummy and enough to share with family and friends.

Bowl of Figs
The figs are on a second crop! Too bad I am not a big fan of figs but I pick and share with those in my life that adore them. They say they are delicious.

Our pear tree has done well this year and I went ahead and harvested our crop today. I usually wait until it is too late and they get ripe on the tree and fall on the ground before I get one of the boys to climb the ladder to pick them. This year we have enough to share. We also have our own pears for the pear challenge in the new More Nature Study ebook series. 🙂

We had ONE plum on our tree…usually we are up to our ears in plums but we had snow on the blossoms and I guess that ruined the crop. There is always next year.

The walnuts are being eaten by the squirrels….what a mess under the tree! I may be able to harvest a few pounds of nuts for our pantry.

So there you have it…my 1000th post and a tour of my garden. See you in my 1001st post soon.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Growing An Artist Garden Takes Patience – Weekly Update

7 4 and 5 11 First Sunflower

It looks like it is almost time! As I tour my garden this week I notice that all the blooming plants have buds just waiting to burst out in color. This is the first of our sunflowers….sprouted up under the birdfeeder all on its own. What joy to find this waiting for me this morning! Promises of more are all over the garden and I will soon be using THIS tutorial to make some oil pastel artwork. I am thinking of inviting some friends over to join me and to spend an afternoon creating sunflower art.

7 4 and 5 11 Bee Balm

The Bee Balm has filled an area in the butterfly garden and can see this going on a canvas as well. Wait until you see it in full bloom! The reds and the fluffiness remind me of butterfly’s wings.

7 4 and 5 11 Sunflower Garden
Here is my sunflower box….it is bursting with tall healthy plants and since I mixed the seed varieties it will be interesting to see the color palette once it starts to show its blooms.

7 4 and 5 11 Zinnias in the Bud
The zinnias are going to be amazing soon! I love zinnias and we will fill up vase after vase of them to put on the kitchen table. This year we will capture them with paints too!

7 6 11 Daisies
Daisies are a new addition to our flower garden. I have visions of a whole box filled with them as the years go by….just like in Pride and Prejudice where Jane and Elizabeth are out in the garden cutting baskets of flowers. I can dream can’t I?

7 6 11 Coneflowers
Coneflowers at last! This the first real flower blooming but there are about a hundred ready to bloom. I will cut some for vases and use some in a still life just as soon as I get my self motivated.

7 6 11 Trumpet Vine
Our trumpet vines are blooming around the edges and the hummingbirds have moved from the feeders to the flowers….they must taste good because there are a number of birds that stop by each day to buzz in and out of the blossoms. It is so fascinating to watch as they hover over the vines and sip the nectar.

7 6 11 Three Sisters Garden in the Early Morning

Couldn’t resist including an image of the Three Sisters Garden in the early morning light…delightful. Pretty soon I will not be able to walk between the rows because the plants are growing so much. I will keep you posted on the progress of the section of the garden….right now the most striking part of the garden is the HUGE leaves on the pumpkins.

There you have our garden update for the week….mostly about the Artist Garden and my plans for using the plants and flowers as subjects for my artwork. Soon…..stay tuned.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Making a Garden a Place of Joy – Give Yourself Permission

Garden 6 20 11 Cantebury Bells

Sunny hot weather this week in Northern California has given our garden just the breath of life that it needed after our cool rainy weather in May and the beginning of June.

Garden 6 20 11 Sunflowers

The sunflowers actually look like sunflowers all neatly growing in rows, just waiting for each day’s sunshine. If you remember I planted three varieties in this section of the garden…my artist garden. I am envisioning a lawn chair in the shade of the maple tree, paints and colored pencils sitting at my side and a sketch book in my hand just across the yard from these beauties.

Garden 6 20 11Corn and Beans
My three sisters garden is all planted and growing! We added the beans and pumpkins and most of the seeds have spouted and are growing right as they should. This has been a fun project….one that has captured my interest, renewing my gardening zeal.

Garden 6 20 11 Strawberries
We have had several quarts of strawberries already…big and juicy red ones!

Garden 6 20 11 Pink Cantebury Bells
Now this is another of my “mystery” plants. I was waiting to see what was going to bloom and this week it has come alive with color! Here they are…Cantebury Bells. I vaguely remember planting them last year and since they are a biennial, they are blooming this year. Amazing color….which you know will make its way into my nature journal.

Garden 6 20 11 Rose garden spot
We had two birdbaths in the backyard so I decided to move one to the front yard…perfect fit. The empty spot in the garden is really needing some attention and I don’t know what to put here. In the spring there are tulips and allium that bloom but in the summer there isn’t much to fill in the spot. I think those are old gladiola bulbs that didn’t bloom last year coming up. I am not a big fan of gladiolas. This spot gets sun most of the day so the roses love it and I let the allysum grow where it wants. Any suggestions for plants for this middle spot would be appreciated…I’m thinking something taller than the roses.

Garden 6 20 11 Tickseed
The tickseed is in full bloom and it makes such a great little bouquet for the table….nothing makes you smile more than having breakfast with a vase of sunshiney tickseed in front of you.

The chore list for the garden this week includes quite a bit of weeding, including the hedge bindweed that I wrote about recently. I try to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning each day just pulling weeds. The whole garden never is weeded at one time but it doesn’t get too crazy with daily attention. I have one tomato that doesn’t look so great so I will try to figure out how to perk it up. I also have one garden box that looks like it has some insect eating the leaves on the plants…..time for some private eye time to see if I can figure out who is the culprit.

In the past, I worried about having the garden “just right”. I spent way too much time worrying about the weeds and the organization and the practicality of it all. I realized this week that I have come to a new understanding about my garden. The garden is what I make of it and if I want to grow pumpkins in the middle of my grass…I can give myself permission to do so. If I want to try something new, I can because it is MY garden.

This year I am just going to enjoy the gardening experience…take the ups and downs as they come. I will put in the effort that I can and see what happens.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Our Crop Plant Study: Corn!

Our crop plant study as part of the June Newsletter suggestions focused on corn. Yes, corn. We haven’t had much luck in the past growing corn but we wanted to try again this year as part of our Three Sisters Garden where we plant corn, beans, and squash as companions. (There is an official Corn Crop Plants Challenge on my sidebar. You can just observe an ear of corn and make an entry if you wish.)

6 12 11 Garden - Three Sisters
We did some reading beforehand and realized that we needed to plant more corn than we usually do so it will have a better chance of pollinating. We planted the corn in mounds and have let it grow to around six inches high before planting the beans around the corn and then pumpkins in alternating mounds between the corn. You can find complete directions HERE on Renee’s Garden website (love this website).

6 12 11 Garden Corn in cages
Here are our young corn plants. We have been using homemade compost to enrich our soil and every time I dig around to weed the mounds I find oodles of earthworms. I am hoping that is a good sign for our corn and its health.

We had to put tomato cages around each mound for now to keep the critters out…..human kind and canine kind as well.

6 12 11 Garden Potato
I noticed that there is a potato growing in the row so we decided to leave it and see what happens with it. We have never grown potatoes but there must have been one left in the compost when it was dumped in this section of the garden.

We read in the Handbook of Nature Study that corn study can take place in the spring as soon as the leaves appear and that because the corn plant grows so fast that it is a great season long study. We will be watching anxiously as our corn grows and in Lesson 168 in the Handbook of Nature Study there are many interesting observations to make as the plant grows.

6 12 11 Garden Corn

You can purchase a set of notebook pages to go along with all the Crop Plants studies in the Handbook of Nature Study HERE. There are also challenges listed on the right sidebar of my blog to go along with them.

6 12 11 Garden Beans

We are also anxious for our green beans to start their vines…our poles are ready!

Don’t forget to post and then share your crop plant study with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Here is the link to ENTER.
Crop Plants Notebook Page Cover Button

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Corn Study, Fibonacci, and Our Garden: Our Family Outdoor Hour

We started off our study by reading the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study about corn. There were some great details in there about corn and how it grows and the purpose of each part of the ear of corn.

We followed the outline of the questions on page 603 to go a little more in depth with the ears of corn that we had purchased for this study. We ate the corn after our study and my son described the taste as “sweet and crunchy”.

Here is a little excerpt from my son’s journal page:
“The rows are more orderly near the top and become an irregular mess near the bottom. This is partly due to the lack of space but also because the slight curve of some pushes others over and they push the next and so on. The end has little definable shape but is long in some parts and stops short in other rows. ”

Closely examining the ear of corn was really quite amazing, proving once again how taking a few concentrated minutes to study something commonplace produces a whole new appreciation for its beauty and design. We started wondering if corn follows the idea of a Fibonacci number or sequence and we did a little research.

We are constantly amazed at the design that our loving Creator has put before us if we only take the time to really see and appreciate.

Okay, back to our study. We germinated some corn kernels as part of our weekly nature study and we were all surprised that in a matter of days we had real corn plants growing. I unzipped the bag to allow the stems to poke out and they have continued to grow. The photo above is after five days of germination. I highly recommend this easy experiment as a way to see the process of growth. (The instructions are in the original challenge.)

We also planted some corn in our garden at the beginning of the crop plant challenges a few weeks ago. They are starting to get taller each day. I think we planted too many in our square foot…we shall see.

While we were out in the garden we noticed that our winter squash is finally forming.

We have two plants with about three squashes each so that will be a good crop for a first try.

Another new plant in our flower garden is the gladiola.

I planted shades of purple and they are gorgeous.

The glads are starting and the hydrangeas are fading. They are still very pretty even if their color is not as vivid. I am going to cut a bunch and keep them for dried flower arrangements.
Crop Plants Notebook Pages – Companion to the Crop Plants Challenges

Crop Plants Notebook Page Cover Button
Custom made notebook pages for each crop plant challenge. I have designed simple to use pages that will complement each challenge and will be an easy way to start a nature journal. Each of the eight notebook pages is in full color, but they are just as great in black and white. These notebook pages can be purchased for $2.50. View a  SAMPLE


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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Crop Plants-Corn

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Crop Plants #3
Corn and Maize

This week we are going to learn about corn and hopefully you will be able to observe an ear of corn up close. In addition to learning about corn, do your best to spend some time outdoors enjoying the summer weather. If it is too hot in the afternoons, try going outside in the early morning right after breakfast or in the evening and see if that makes it more enjoyable for your family.

Inside Preparation Work

1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 598-604. Highlight any facts about corn that can be shared with your children during the follow-up activity.

Suggested activity:
“Corn should be germinated between wet blotters in a seed testing experiment before observations are made on the growing corn of the fields.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 601

Follow the same procedure that you did with the bean germination to germinate a few kernels of corn. The Germinator
(This project was a part of Outdoor Hour Challenge #19 and the Bean Challenge.)

Outdoor Time
3. For this challenge, spend 10-15 minutes outdoors. Afterwards, you might include a trip to the grocery store to pick out some ears of corn to observe and then to eat at a meal. Check on any seeds or plants that you have in your garden for the challenges. Keep your eyes out for some clover if you have not had the chance to study some up close yet.

Follow-Up Activity
4. Allow time for discussion and a nature journal entry after your outdoor time. Follow up any interest in any subjects you observed during your outdoor time. You can use the questions in the Handbook of Nature Study on page 603 to help you observe an actual ear of corn.

5. Prepare corn for eating and enjoy! You may want to pop some corn and have a popcorn feast as well. You may wish to view this YouTube video about popcorn:

We are thinking about growing some popcorn next year. Here is a link with some information:

Crop Plants Notebook Page Cover Button
New for this series of challenges are custom made notebook pages for each crop plant we will study. I have designed simple to use pages that will complement each challenge and will be an easy way to start a nature journal. Each of the eight notebook pages is in full color, but they are just as great in black and white.


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Garden Nature Study – Crop Plants Notebook Pages

Crop Plants Notebook Pages – Companion to the Crop Plants Challenges

Crop Plants Notebook Page Cover Button
Custom made notebook pages for each crop plant challenge. I have designed simple to use pages that will complement each challenge and will be an easy way to start a nature journal. Each of the eight notebook pages is in full color, but they are just as great in black and white. View a  SAMPLE

List of Crop Plant Challenge in the Ebook:
Crop Plants – Clover
Crop Plants – Beans
Crop Plants – Corn
Crop Plants – Cotton
Crop Plants – Strawberries
Crop Plants – Pumpkins
Crop Plants – Tomatoes