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Garden Planning and April Recap -In Progress

Spring Garden @handbookofnaturestudy

This is such a gorgeous colorful time of year in the garden. I thought I would do a little update on my Garden Planning nature journal page and share how my April 2016 recap page is coming along.

 Garden Planning 2016 Nature Journal Page @handbookofnaturestudy

At least this is the plan as of today…I know when the actual planting time comes I will probably adjust a bit but this gives my husband an idea of what irrigation I will need for him to set in up in each box. The one box is labeled as the “herb box” which it used to be in the past but now it is just a regular box…it will probably always be known as the herb box.

april 2016 recap nature journal page @handbookofnaturestudy

I’ve left some blank space for recording experiences as we finish up the month. I find that keeping the page going during the month is the best way to assure that it will actually get done. I used some watercolor pencils, gel pens, and a ruler to create my page.

Are you working on your garden seeds challenge? Take a few minutes and get it started! Are you going to create a monthly recap page? Here is the link to the Once a Month Nature Journal Project idea post.

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Garden Seeds Project – Photo, Journal, Plan

Garden Seeds Journal Plan @handbookofnaturestudy

We received our seed order from Renee’s Garden and it inspired us to get out into the garden and start our spring clean up. The end of March and the beginning of April is the time we can get out and start weeding the boxes and dreaming of the summertime garden goodness that will be coming fast!

Garden Clean Up March 2016 (12)
Here’s the garden before the clean up.

With all of our children living away from home, the garden chores all fall on my husband and I. I have a hard time bending over for very long so I decided to work a half hour every afternoon and with three days of doing that and one rather long afternoon with my husband, we finished the initial clean up.

Garden Clean Up March 2016 (1)
Here is the after image.

Now we can make a list of things we still need to do to get the boxes ready including a good composting. The drip system needs a bit of revamping as well but we have a month or so before we will need to have the irrigation ready.
Renee Garden Seeds and Plants March 2016 (6)

In the meantime, I will be planting several veggies in containers up on our deck where I can nurture them through the early spring. I will also be planting veggies in the garden boxes but I have enjoyed watching and eating the veggies on our back deck in the past few years and don’t want to miss that experience this year.

Garden Planning Nature Journal Idea @handbookofnaturestudy

As part of the Garden Seeds Challenge, I started on a Garden Planning page in my nature journal. I sketched a few of the seeds we will be planting this year and included some of my garden growing thoughts too!

We looked up our hardiness zone to remind ourselves of when we can plant each of the vegetables we have on our list: Plant Zone Hardiness Calendar.

We can usually count on having a good garden if we get our seeds in the ground by May 1st. I don’t ever plant anything fancy so here is our list for 2016.


  • Lettuce: Baby Leaf Lettuce,
  • Green Beans – French Mascotte (container bush beans), Classic Slenderette (bush beans), Blue Lake pole beans.
  • Tomatoes – Litt’l Bites Cherry (container), Pandorino (Italian grape tomato)
  • Squash – Astia (container zucchini), Raven zucchini
  • Baby Bell peppers


  • Sunflowers- Bird and Bee Pollinator Mix, Sundancer.
  • White Bishop’s Lace
  • Zinnias
  • Echinacea (Paradise mix)
  • Snow Sonata Cosmos
  • White Wonder Feverfew
  • Grandmother’s Pincushion scabiosa

 Garden Clean Up March 2016 (15)

After all of that work, it is so nice to sit with the feet up and enjoy a cool drink as you survey all your hard yardwork.

Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

If you are a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find this archive challenge in the Garden Flower and Plant Ebook in your library. In the ebook you will find a custom notebook page designed for use with this particular challenge.

Garden Seeds Study Notebook Pages

PLUS there is a new printable in the member’s library for sketching your garden seeds too!

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library




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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Garden Seeds

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Seeds Observations @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Garden Seeds – Observations
Archive Challenge

Now that spring is really here, let’s get our gardening started! Of course, that means picking seeds and for all nature loving families we can make that into a simple and meaningful nature study. Taking time to note the differences and unique shape, size, and color of flower and vegetable seeds will make an impression on your young naturalist. Even if you just pick one kind of seed and do a thorough job with your observations there will be long lasting benefits to this type of seed study.

Garden Study – Seeds and Observations


You may also want to use this printable activity if you plan on visiting a garden nursery.

Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

If you are a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find this archive challenge in the Garden Flower and Plant Ebook in your library. In the ebook you will find a custom notebook page designed for use with this particular challenge.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library



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Winter Weeds and Seeds

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Seeds

Here are a couple of weed/seed photos I took over the past few weeks. We were out on a snowy walk and I spotted this beautiful seed pod! In my mind’s eye I see the seeds all sleeping inside cozy, waiting for the right time to spring out and sprout in the springtime sunshine.

Yosemite Jan 2016 Snow (28)

We also squeezed in a sunny hike after a big week of rain and the grasses were already starting to turn green but last season’s star thistles were still standing dry, stiff and full of seeds. The birds like these invasive plants because they provide seeds in their diet…at least there is that! I recently had a discussion with a young girl about the difference between a wildflower and a weed. It was interesting to hear how she appreciates the beauty in what many deem to be weeds, things like dandelions, mustard, and wild radish. She has studied herbs a bit and understands the value of many of our so-called weeds. (She is a girl after my own heart.)

Winter Weed Jan 2016

Take advantage of your winter season to look for weeds and seeds. The landscape at this time of year has far less competing for your attention and weeds can be spotted even if you have snow or ice.

I am so looking forward to wildflower season this year! We have had a decent amount of rain and it should help make it a splendid show of color in a few weeks.

Have you looked for weeds and seeds yet?

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Seeds

Outdoor Hour Challenge Seed Nature Study @handbookofnaturestud

One of my favorite winter nature study activities is to take a hike and look for weeds left from the summer season. They are usually brown and stiff, sticking up out of the landscape even when there is a snow pack. Create a winter weed bouquet for your nature table and use the two challenges below to go a little deeper in your  seed study. Create some anticipation for the spring and summer season by talking about how plants are just waiting for the right conditions to spring forth new life again.

Weeds and Seeds Study – This challenge has a free printable notebook page for you to use as part of your seed study.

Winter Wednesday – Winter Weeds  –  from the Winter Wednesday ebook.

After reading through each challenge linked above, choose one or two things to keep in mind during your Outdoor Hour Challenge time. Enjoy your fifteen minutes outdoors as you look for weeds and seeds.  Make sure to show interest in any item your child finds to observe or bring home to your nature table.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Fall Seed Walk – From Our World

Dave Moore oct 2014 (5)On an absolutely beautiful autumn day, we hiked out to the river to enjoy the sunshine and fall colors. We were on the lookout for some fall seeds and we discovered a new flower!

Dave Moore oct 2014 (14)
I have no idea what this plant is but it was about four feet tall and was swaying in the breeze…waving us over to take a closer look. Aren’t these the prettiest little flowers?
Dave Moore oct 2014 (16)
Each branch ended with these delicate flowers and the stem of the plant was purplish red.

Evening PrimroseWe also discovered a patch of evening primrose dispersed among the big boulders lining the river’s edge.

MulleinWe also spied this massive mullein plant with its soft rosettes of leaves.

We were so distracted by the plants and flowers that we didn’t collect any seeds for our nature journal entry. I am thinking that it will take a change in the weather before I am inspired to collect seeds and sit down long enough to make a page for our fall seeds. Can you blame me?

Dave Moore oct 2014 (22)

Have you collected any seeds yet?

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Handbook of Nature Study – November 2014 Newsletter

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter Cover November 2014 Image

November 2014 – Fall Seeds

Please read the following explanation outlining how to get this month’s newsletter.

The newsletter link is not in this email but will come separately.

If you don’t receive the separate email with the download link, you probably aren’t subscribed to the blog yet. This will take less than a minute to do if you follow the steps below.

If you are a subscriber and you haven’t received your newsletter email yet, check your SPAM inbox. Some subscribers have found the email buried in SPAM inbox.

If you need to subscribe:

  • You will need to go to the Handbook of Nature Study, look to the top right corner for the box to type in your preferred email address, and then confirm the email that comes to your email inbox.
  • Once you subscribe, you will receive a thank you email from me with the download link.

This month’s newsletter link will be available only during the month of November so be sure to download it before 11/30/14.

Remember! All of the archived and current newsletters are available as part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library…every level! You may wish to download and use the September 2011 newsletter with additional seed study ideas and printables for your family.

Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:

  • 3 seed related nature activities
  • November planning page printable
  • November Nature Journal Topper and Study Grid
  • Two printable notebook pages
  • December preschool nature table ideas, printables, and coloring page

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.


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New Printables for Members – October 2014

October Printables Button

New Printables in the Member’s Library!

There are new printables for you to use with your family if you are a member of the Ultimate Naturalist or Journey level memberships. You need to log into your account and then check the “Other Releases” section for brand new printables to enjoy along with the Outdoor Hour Challenges in November 2014.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Witch Hazel Tree Study

Witch Hazel Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Inside Preparation Work:

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Use your outdoor time this week to look at fall trees, looking in particular for the yellow strap-like flowers and nuts of the Witch Hazel. It might be fun to also include a Fall Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt using this printable from Hearts and Trees.
  • Take along your nature journals to sketch the Witch Hazel flower into your nature journal.
  • Advanced students: Make sure to look for the Witch Hazel nuts and find the seeds if possible. If possible, collect a few of the nuts to take home to discover just how far the seeds will fly once the nut opens up.

Follow-Up Activity:

Create a nature journal entry all about the Witch Hazel. Here are some things to include (or you can use the notebook page in the ebook:

  • Color and texture of the bark
  • Leaves, if any are present, noting the color.
  • Flower (see page 688 in the Handbook of Nature Study for a nice diagram of the flower)
  • Date of your observations and the location
  • Draw the Witch Hazel nut. Write how you think the seeds are thrown so far from the tree.

Advanced Study: Complete the notebooking page in the ebook using a field guide or the internet resources above.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button

You can also submit any Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entry from October to the next edition of the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival by sending the link directly to me by 10/29/14.



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Winter Weed Gallery – Our Weed Study

When you spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months, you are bound to notice the various shapes and sizes of winter weeds. Maybe it the lack of other nature study subjects or the more subdued color palette of the winter landscape, but weeds are hard to miss.
These particular images were taken at Yosemite National Park during our last visit in January. The stalks are still standing tall and the fruits are still visible on many of the plants. I am pretty sure this is Common Cowparsnip.
What a lovely pattern found in the winter Cow Parsnip.
This set of images comes from our hike at Lake Tahoe last month. The winter weeds are clearly seen emerging from the snowy landscape.
This is a different plant and had far more seeds left attached to the stalks.
Rather pretty isn’t it? Focusing on winter weeds is one way to see the beauty even in the winter scene. I hope this encourages your own winter weed study…one that you can fit in while taking a short walk.

Have you looked for some winter weeds to study?