Tag Archive for gardening

Step by Step Guide to When to Harvest Vegetables in the Garden (And Fruit)

Step by Step Guide to When to Harvest Vegetables in the Garden (And Fruit)

Do you know when to harvest vegetables in the garden, and fruit? It’s sometimes hard to tell when the produce is perfectly ready. There are some basic rules to go by. Here are tips to harvest some of the most popular vegetables (and fruits) that people love to grow.

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Amazing Garden Tools to Try RIGHT NOW!

Amazing Garden Tools to Try RIGHT NOW!

Is there a garden chore you just hate? What is the best way to get through it? For me, it’s having the right garden tools for the right job! I know I could not live without my knee pad and my gloves. I have super nice gloves that fit well and are sturdy. That would be the number one thing I would recommend getting the best you can afford. You get what you pay for. 

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How Long Will Seeds Last in Storage?

How long will seeds last in storage? Where and how can seeds be stored?

I don’t know how many times someone has asked me how long will seeds last in storage. It’s a good question. I know seeds of grain have been discovered in ancient tombs and they actually germinated when planted. Isn’t that amazing? Thousand-year-old seeds are still alive?

There are many ways to store seeds, and some are better than others. If you want your seeds to last in storage the longest time possible, you definitely have to go to some effort to keep them dry. Keeping them out of the light is a good idea as well. Let’s start with how seeds work.

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How to Grow Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes are a tasty, starchy tuber similar in flavor and texture to potatoes. They taste sweeter than potatoes though. The great thing about them is you can harvest them in winter when there is not much else to harvest. The plants are pretty, the smell nice, and they produce like no one’s business. In fact, they can be very invasive. Have you ever heard of them? I hadn’t until I was researching what kind of perennial plants we could plant in our preschool garden.

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sunchokes-jerusalem-artichokes-straight-from-the-ground

jerusalem-artichokes

Plant Jerusalem Artichokes in spring. 


Order some tubers and get a large container filled with soil. You don’t want to plant these babies in the ground or they will take over the whole area you plant them in. They are planted in spring. Plant them like you would plant potatoes, about 5 inches deep and about 12-18 inches apart. Click the small image above for buying choices if you want to get some tubers to start your own plants.


sunchokes-growing-in-a-bucket

The tubers will grow all summer. They grow a tall flower similar to a cluster of small sunflowers. They smell nice and fragrant and look lovely in the garden. Harvest them after the first frost. A friend tells me if you harvest before a frost, the sunchokes will make you gassy. Nobody wants Jerusalem artichoke gas!

jerusalem-artichoke-plant

Another fun fact about Jerusalem artichokes is the flowers smell slightly like chocolate. Who doesn’t love a sunflower that smells like chocolate? You can take a few petals from the flower and rub it in your hands and smell a chocolatey smell. Sensory experiences are so important for kids, especially under age three. This is a wonderful sensory stimulus.

Sunchokes grow back.

Your Jerusalem artichokes will grow back year after year. Once you do the initial planting, you will have food for years to come. We have tried them raw. We are going to harvest most of ours after we get a frost and try them cooked. You are supposed to prepare them like you would potatoes. You can bake them, mash them, or however you enjoy your potatoes. 

freshly-harvested-jerusalem-artichokeskids-harvesting-jerusalem-artichokes

The kids really love the treasure hunt of digging for food under the ground. Carrots, radishes, potatoes, and Jerusalem Artichokes are super fun for kids. What kid doesn’t love digging in the dirt? I know I still do. The tubers are small and clustered together. They are easy to dig up all at once.

One tip i have learned is to wait until after a freeze to dig them. They taste sweeter and more flavorful and some gardeners have said if you dig them before the frost, they cause lots of gas when you eat them. So….  

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how-to-grow-jerusalem-artichokes

10 Key Benefits of Gardening in Raised Beds

10 Key Benefits of Gardening in Raised Beds

Raised beds are fairly popular among gardeners these days. What’s all the hype? Why do you need them? There is nothing wrong with gardening right in the ground, but raised beds offer some different options to gardeners as growing spaces. Building raised beds can be expensive and it does take time to build them and fill them. They can also fix a whole host of gardening problems and for us at Little Sprouts, they work.

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Gardening with Kids

Gardening with kids is one of the most amazing and rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. I have been a family childcare provider for 21 years and over the course of that time, I have tried and tried to grow things with my kids. I come from a long line of farmers and have always been interested in growing food, but I just had no instincts.

Gardening has a million benefits. There is nothing better to teach your kids. 

 

Five years ago, I was invited to a class to teach childcare providers to garden with their kids. I was so excited and immediately fell in love with everything about it. I set the goal to teach as many kids as possible to grow food, to teach as many people as possible to teach this to kids, and to grow as much of my kid’s food as possible here at our house.


I failed so many times over the years because I didn’t know the basics of how to garden, and Doug, the gardening teacher in the class, changed all that for me with the information he shared with us. 

kids harvesting kohlrabi

How we got started

First, I got help from a daycare parent to build some simple beds and mix dirt, then we got our free bed from the garden class, then we built more beds, and then we asked the neighbor for some land and built and expansion. 

Overall, we have over 50 raised beds, some are as small as one foot by two feet and some are as large as 3 feet by 10 feet. It’s a hodge podge. We built many from discarded materials, got a small grant, collected money from local businesses, daycare parents, and family members, and put a ton of money into it ourselves, but we built a paradise to teach kids. Click here for more details about how we did it. 

You certainly don’t have to go this big, kids can learn a ton in a couple of five gallon buckets full of dirt. You can plant a lot in a 3 by 3 foot bed and so much learning can happen with that. You can have one tomato plant and find dozens of learning opportunities with just that. Please don’t feel overwhelmed by the volume we’ve chosen here. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It can just be something!

healthy living-gardening with kids

The garden has ups and downs

There are so many things you can learn in the garden and if you don’t know how to garden yourself, you can do like we did and learn while you teach your kids. We are by no means experts, but we have a lot of fun figuring it out. My husband is a big help and I certainly could not do it without him. 

 

What is Permaculture?

Have you ever wondered what permaculture means? I have wanted to learn about permaculture for so long. I have learned bits and pieces of it, but nothing to really tell me how to do it.

permaculture gardening

I had the opportunity to review the book “Permaculture for the Rest of Us, Abundant Living on Less than an Acre”, by Jenni Blackmore and I jumped on it. Send me the book! I was so excited to learn more about this interesting method of planting.


abundant living on less than an acre, gardening, permaculture

The main premise of permaculture is that plants, animals, and insects can all live in symbiotic relationships together in harmony and support and build each other up, like how nature does it on its own. Land can actually heal itself if left alone.

Imagine a big tree in the woods, lightning strikes it or, more likely, someone comes and chops it down. The tree falls. The tree lays there lifeless. Over time, it begins to deteriorate. Bacteria, bugs, and animals all help break it down. It finally decomposes, and becomes fertilizer for the earth to have more fertility and the place it was can no longer be seen. The place it once was is unmarred by its presence again. Nature heals itself.

So, if this can happen in nature, how much more can it happen when we work with nature than against it? How can we do this? Permaculture teaches us how.

permaculture for the rest of us

So back to the book. Author, Jenni Blackmore tells about her disgust for slugs which started her on her journey towards permaculture and I loved hearing about her journey and how she got to where she is today. In the book, she teaches about building soil and how to work it. She also tells about important things you need for success, what animals have to do with it, and where to begin.

My favorite chapter was the one that talks about the permaculture principles. I have always wanted to learn them and she presented them in such a way that I could understand them clearly. I can’t wait to learn even more about them with some further study. I love how the author, Jenni Blackmore presents her information in a laid back way that is not intimidating even to beginners like me. She presents and anyone can do it attitude and that’s just what I need to learn.

permaculture design

I learned from the permaculture principles that I have a lot of natural instinct on how to plant to balance nature. I have no natural growing instincts, so it was so cool to see that some of the things I feel drawn to do are helping nature help me. At least I’m not slow at every part of growing.

I hope you will order the book for yourself right away so you can learn how you can practice permaculture even if you are living on a city lot like me. Click the picture below to check it out.

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What is Permaculture

 

 

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