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Outdoor Mom’s Journal – Early Fall Thoughts

Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

“But he learns naturally at his own pace, never tiring, and slowly learning just what he needs to know about the world around him. And this is exactly what a child should be doing for the first few years. He should be getting familiar with the real things in his own environment. Some day he will read about things he can’t see; how will he conceive of them without the knowledge of common objects in his experience to relate them to? Some day he will reflect, contemplate, reason. What will he have to think about without a file of knowledge collected and stored in his memory?”

Charlotte Mason in Modern English, volume 1 page 66

Renee’s Garden Seeds – Just Look at My Garden!

If you have been following the blog in the past few years, you are aware that Renee’s Garden Seeds has been a sponsor and valued part of my summer gardening experience. Not only have I enjoyed her seeds in my garden, but I have shared seeds with my dad. He has a beautiful garden and each year he tenderly nurtures his vegetables through the hot California summer. This year his pond went dry but he still kept his garden green with his well water.

Renees Garden Collage @handbookofnaturestudy

Here in town I did not have that option…we are on city water and have been restricted not only in the number of days we can water but we were asked to reduce our usage by using less than last year. I took the challenge and created a container garden on my back deck and watered using only a drip system and water that I caught from our shower warm up time that I collected in a five gallon bucket.  This garden has brought such joy to me over the summer. I could look out and see the insects buzzing around the blossoms and the hummingbirds stopping by for some nectar.

Sunflower Renees Garden

Hello Mr. Sunflower! So glad you joined us….the bees have spent many hours hovering and gathering at my container sunflowers.

Each morning I would check my plants for something to harvest. It could be a handful of cherry tomatoes, a zucchini to pick, or some herbs to include in my dinner plans.

morning glory renees aug 2015 (1)
I would talk to my morning glory vines and coach them to stop growing so tall and to start blooming. The first morning that I looked out my window and saw these gorgeous flowers made all the waiting worth it. They now greet me every morning with a few blue flowers…happy, happy, happy.

zucchini renees 2
The zucchini at the beginning of the season were small but more of a traditional shape. As the summer has worn on, they have started to change into this interesting shape, still tasty and summery on the table at dinner.

Granny Smith @handbookofnaturestudy

Apple Time!

We are looking forward to apple time in the coming weeks. Not only our local orchard but our very own apple tree in our backyard! This is the first year we really have an apple “harvest” on our young tree and it surprises me that even in our drought that we have apples to eat from our own tree. We will be visiting our local apple farm to purchase apples for various treats including applesauce. The taste of autumn around here is apple!

Apple Study @handbookofnaturestudy

You can do your own apple study using the Outdoor Hour Challenge: Autumn Apples Nature Study.

Join Jami over on An Oregon Cottage for her Tuesday Garden Party!

 Sugar Pine Point State Park Aug 2015 @handbookofnaturestudy

 August was a great month of being outdoors for this nature loving mama. I accomplished one of my nature study goals for the year by visiting a new state park, Sugar Pine Point State Park! I will share that in an up-coming post here on the Handbook of Nature Study. The season is about to change here and that means even more time outside hiking with the cooler temperatures.

Outdoor Moms Journal @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world. I hope you have enjoyed your August.

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

I will be posting my Outdoor Mom’s Journal entry once a month. Look for it during the first week of the month each month.

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Tuesday Garden Party – Spring #1

Spring 1 Garden

This is the time of year that I dream about during the long dark days of winter. The time when we see the yard spring to life again and remember what green is like…at least for a little while. My front yard is ablaze with poppies, dogwood, California lilac, iris, and soon there will be sage and butterfly bushes to enjoy.

Cat Grass 1

One of the new things I am growing this year is a plant that I found in the Renee’s Garden seed listing. It is “cat grass” that you grow for your cats to eat. Mine have discovered their pot of cat grass and have decided it is delicious.

Cat Grass 2

I put the pot in the window near where the cats like to sit and look out on the birdfeeder. It didn’t take long for the seeds to sprout and grow! My cats are regular visitors to this plant now and I am going to sprout some more seeds in a pot outdoors.

Spring Deck 1

California Drought Year Four!!!!!

This year I have a few things growing in pots on the back deck. I will be adding some more seeds for veggies and flowers later this week. We are using a drip watering system for the first time here on the deck and I am excited about it. In the past, we have hand watered these pots every morning using water caught from the shower and water from a watering can filled with the back hose. This is going to be a much more convenient watering system and use far less water.

You can see my sunflower planted by the birds in the nearest pot. It is already 14″ high!

Spring deck 2

Here is a close up image of the sunflower. It makes me very happy!

Spring deck 3

You can see the drip irrigation system up close in this image. All of these plants were from last year’s seeds and have sprouted all on their own.

Spring deck 4

Salvia is such an easy plant to have in pots. I just pruned it back last fall and not it is coming back so very nicely and full of buds.

So there you go! I spend a few minutes each day just enjoying the surprises that come in the early spring. There is always something new to discover and once I get my seeds in the ground I will really start to enjoy all of those wonderful Renee’s Garden seeds that she gifted me.

I am joining Jami and here Tuesday Garden Party over on An Oregon Cottage.



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May Garden Observations: Drought Year

California Poppies

Your Garden in All Four Seasons – taking a look at our spring garden

My garden is coming to life during the month of May. We had an unusual winter so many of the plants didn’t do well without our normal winter rains. Our dogwood barely bloomed this year with perhaps only five or six flowers compared to dozens in past years. Some of our lavender plants did not survive either…perhaps the week of snow and freezing temperatures with the snow left on top made the death blow but no matter the reason, we will be digging them up and replacing them next year.

Come along on a quick trip around my spring garden…welcome to all who are popping in from the Tuesday Garden Party.

We are currently experiencing drought conditions in our part of California and we are under mandatory watering restrictions. This means I will not be planting my traditional garden but trying to keep our drought resistant plants and native plants going with the water we have available. The weird winter didn’t seem to effect the California Poppies at all and we have a beautiful crop of flowers right now in our front yard.

Late April Garden 2014 (16)

The Spanish Lavender did much better than the English Lavender over the winter and the bees are back in full force. There are lots of spittle bugs and border bugs too.

Garden may 19 2014 (13)

We have not put much time into the garden yet and it shows. There are lots and lots of weeds all around the garden boxes. The interesting thing is how many oregano, thyme, and sunflower plants there are growing outside the boxes! We also have a pile of wood left from the walnut tree we cut down that needs to be stacked neatly. I am missing my strong teenage boys who usually take care of tasks like this for me.


This is a monster size sunflower growing where the walnut tree was before we cut it down. I think I will leave it to grow in this spot and let the birds enjoy the seeds this summer. I can hand water it if I need to since there are not drips over on this side of the yard.

sunflower in a pot

There are sunflowers growing in several of my deck planters as well. In the past, these volunteer plants seem to be the most hearty of plants and they have great flowers so I will leave it growing here as well.

Hedge Bindweed

The Hedge Bindweed is so pretty right now as it grows under the birdfeeder and around the old pine tree stump. There is a lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study for this flower if you have it in your yard too.

Hedge Bindweed flowers

There are so pretty and remind me of morning glories. My little patch is growing in a spot that I can let it wander without too much trouble.


There is lots of mullein around my yard…I love to watch the flower stalks grow and the leaves are so pretty and soft.


We have quite a crop of strawberries already which is a little early for our “June” berries. I don’t think they will do well with our restrictive watering rules this summer. I may need to pull a couple of plants out, put them in a pot, and hope that I can keep them going during this drought year.

Mystery Flower

I found this mystery flower growing among the mullein and I am not sure what it is yet. I know that last year I planted a mix of seeds on this side of the yard but none of them grew. I am wondering if this is from a seed that I planted last year and it is just now growing. I will keep an eye on it.

Disneyland Rose

The Disneyland Rose is gorgeous right now, the whole plant full of blooms. I am filling vases full for the kitchen table and they just keep coming.

Bleeding Hearts

The shady part of the yard is filled with Bleeding Hearts…such a fun flower that I love to see when I look out the window. I appreciate that this plant comes back year after year with no fussing from me. I just get to enjoy it.

Jerusalem Sage

The Jerusalem Sage is an amazing grower in our garden. It is thankfully a drought tolerant plant and I don’t have to worry about the amount of water it will get this summer. It just keeps on blooming.

Star Jasmine

The Star Jasmine is filling the air with its sweet perfume. This is another plant that will take the heat and very low amounts of water.

Kona Dog

Well, there is a look at our spring garden. I would love to get out and plant some summer veggies but it looks like that is not going to happen this year. Instead of being disappointed, I will focus on the plants and flowers I do have and be satisfied.