Tag Archive for gardening

Month by Month Vegetable Garden Planting Guide

month by month vegetable planting guide

Do you ever wonder when in the world to plant your vegetables? I’m here to help with my vegetable garden planting guide. My Little Sprouts and I try our hardest to grow as much of our own food as possible. We like a wide variety of food, so we plant a wide variety of food. It’s hard to keep track of what to plant each month, so here is a guide to what you grow when.

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How to Make the Most of Your Growing Space

Sometimes it’s hard to find enough space to grow everything you’d like to. There are some clever ways to grow more things in a smaller space, or even in your front yard landscaping if you just look for them. How could you find out how to make the most of your space? There are a few secrets that can help your food growing dreams become realities.

I love getting a new book. I adore books, and gardening books are my favorite. There is so much joy that comes from studying and dreaming about what things we could grow. This is our 5th year to grow food in our garden with success, and I am super stoked about what is to come this year.

Our first year in the garden we got way more than I ever dreamed, but I didn’t measure it in any tangible way. So we’ll just say we grew a wow amount of food. Our second year, we didn’t measure either, but we had a ton of fun.


In 2013, we started weighing our produce in order to measure our progress. Our year’s total was a whopping 664 pounds. At that time, we had a large pear tree producing and it put out 268 pounds of pears, the rest of that was garden fruits and veggies.

In 2014, we amped up our goal to 500 pounds of non-pear tree food and we smashed it with a total of 820 pounds of food!

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Last year our pear tree blew over in a storm and left us pear less. We were heart broken, but set our goal at 1,000 pounds of food overall. We have planted some fruit trees and they were loaded with fruit on their tiny frames, we had finished building an expansion to our garden, and we had all of the beds filled for the first time. This goal seemed doable. It was a year riddled with terrible weather, flooding and then incredible heat and drought. Many gardeners I know had no garden at all. Then we had an onslaught of animal pillages and bug overloads. Our goal of 1,000 pounds of food fell by the wayside as disaster after disaster struck our garden. We ended up with a very respectable 678 pounds of healthy, delicious, chemical free food. We were disappointed as well as blessed.

The goal at Little Sprouts is to grow as much of the food the daycare kids eat as we can. We want to provide them with chemical free, safe, and healthy food, and that’s what drives us. Check out more about why we are growing our own food here.

When I heard the title of this book, “Gardening Like a Ninja”, I was instantly interested. I knew this would help us make the most of our space. I went to Amazon and preordered the book and waited patiently for it to become available. When it arrived, the first thing I noticed is that it was stunning. The pictures on the front cover were so inviting and beautiful and as I flipped through the book, it was equally beautiful throughout.

Over the past few years we began tucking beautiful edibles into our landscaping to provide more food for us. When I saw “Gardening Like a Ninja”, I was so excited to find so many more ideas for how we can do even more of that. Many people have HOAs or other organizations that control what they are allowed to grow in the front yard. We don’t have such a thing in my neighborhood, but if we did, I know we could get away with growing how we are, because it’s just stunning. Check out my friend Shawna’s front yard garden by clicking here.

gardening like a ninja, making the most of your gardening space

Gardening Like a Ninja, making the most of your growing space

“Gardening Like a Ninja” is a guide to sneaking delicious edibles into your landscape. There are three parts to the book, why sneak edibles into your landscape, original edible garden designs, and plants that matter. The book covers all 4 seasons and how to create interest in each one. It also covers using your senses in the garden and different shapes, sizes and colors. There is even a section on garden basics for the beginner.

I love this book and have been pouring over and over every page for weeks. I have read every word and learned a ton of new ideas and information. I had never even thought about making my whole mailbox planter edible or how gorgeous strawberries would look in there.

The book addresses patio designs, small spaces, pathways, foundation plantings, corners, and all types of spaces. “Gardening Like a Ninja” also has information on different types of food such as peas, strawberries, melons, sweet potatoes, cilantro, sunflowers and whatever else you can think of that would look beautiful in your landscape design. I know I have used sweet potatoes as decorative plants many times. One year we planted them in our front flower bed and it was gorgeous all summer long. We got so many complements from the neighbors and my daycare families. At the end of the season, we dug them up and there were 89 POUNDS of sweet potatoes under all those gorgeous vines! WOWIE!

There is so much information packed into this book. It’s 175 pages of delightful photos and wonderful ideas about how to grow more food in little space. It helps us remember how gorgeous blueberry bushes are and how stunning asparagus ferns can be. Don’t forget to sneak some edibles into your landscape and enjoy even more food than you ever thought possible no matter how small your growing space is. We have ¼ of an acre here plus 20 x 80 feet in an empty field next door, and we are growing all of this food by making the best of the space we have. We still have to have space in the back yard for a playground for the daycare kids and we have a lot of very shaded areas back there, so we are doing a lot with a very small amount of land. Even if you are in an apartment, you can grow food in containers like my daughter is doing.

Get your kids out in the dirt and get your hands on this book right away so you can make the most of your space too!

Click here to check it out on Amazon.

 

Video! How to Garden with Kids

Do you want to garden with your kids but don’t know where to start? Everchange Productions has produced an amazing video for us showing the basics of how to get started gardening with kids. You don’t have to have a green thumb to grow your own food.

It’s not that difficult to get started, you just have to know where to start. The video shares the basics for how to get everything you need together to be successful in your efforts.

Feel free to share this video with your staff, co workers, friends, family, whoever you think might want to start a gardening project. You don’t have to be an expert to do it, you just have to start.


I hope you will check it out and let it inspire you to get your hands in the dirt today!

What’s Growing on in the Garden in October?

Surprisingly our October garden is alive and kicking. We have lost some plants to pest and disease, but our fall crops are doing wonderfully and we are harvesting quite a bit of produce. There is much life and beauty left in our little patch of paradise.

Our goal at Little Sprouts is to grow as much of our own food as possible. That’s a big job for some preschoolers and a couple who care for them, but it’s so worth it! Click here to check out how we got started.

children's garden


swiss chard, gardening with kids

In October, we harvested 125 pounds of food for a total this year of 580 pounds! Gardening season is almost over. We are far from our goal of 1,000 pounds, but we have been eating quite a bit of goodness from the earth, so I am happy! My kids have learned a lot, as have I, and I’m grateful for it!

children's garden harvest

In October we harvested figs, tomatoes, okra, green beans, sweet potatoes, kale, peas, Swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, hot peppers, tomatillos, CUCUMBERS!, and lots of herbs. Herbs are so expensive at the store, probably those alone have paid for our garden expenses. Our cucumbers were killed off super early in the season by squash bugs after they killed all the squash. We fought the good fight, but lost miserably with them, so we didn’t get squash, pumpkins, or any of those. After they killed all of those, they attacked the melons and cucumbers. We have been buying most of our cucumbers from the farmer’s market this year, so finding cucumbers ripening now is super exciting!

october garden harvest

cucumbers, gardening with kids

kids gardening peas

okra in the preschool garden at little sprouts

Probably within the next 2-3 weeks we will have a frost that will kill some of our plants like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but hopefully we will get to harvest quite a few fall plants from our garden in November before most of the garden freezes over. Last year we were able to overwinter Brussels sprouts, kale and some of our herbs and enjoy them all winter long. I hope we are that lucky again this year.

kale in the preschool garden

green beans in the preschool garden

We have cut back our ravaging animal population by quite a bit. We recorded activity in the garden for 15 days and had one visit from a couple of raccoons, two visits from a possum, and 4 or 5 visits to the outside of the garden from an armadillo. They don’t climb, so they don’t get inside the garden that we’ve ever seen. Hopefully thinning the population will really help our future harvesting possibilities. They sure enjoyed a lot of fresh, organic food this summer. At least someone did. 😉 We have stopped trapping for now as they have been sharing some of our produce with us.

october children's garden

I’m already looking forward to next year’s growing season! Join me this winter and plan a garden for spring at your house or school!

How to Grow your own Sweet Potatoes!

Growing sweet potatoes is easy and fun. It’s so exciting for me and the kids to grow things under the ground. The amazement when you pull that thing up and see there was so much going on that couldn’t be seen is priceless. I love watching the kid’s expressions when they pull up a carrot or radish for the first time. Wow, something I have seen before on my plate grows like THAT? It’s awesome!

At Littles Sprouts we’ve had many struggles with growing white potatoes, but SWEET POTATOES are another story. We have had bumper crops every time so far. It’s so much fun to get a huge return for your work.

Sweet potatoes store for months if cured properly. They need to be spread out in a warm place for about a week to let the sugars set and the skins toughen and most of them will store great. We put them in single layers in plastic totes and put them in our attic for a week or two.


Be careful to watch for blemishes or bad spots. Cut those off and use those potatoes right away. Save the whole clean ones for storing. You can dust the dirt off of them, but make sure NOT to wash them or get them wet. This will encourage them to rot.

We LOVE sweet potatoes and eat them year round. They are super delicious and very healthy for us. The kids like them roasted, baked, fried, or even mashed. They are full of antioxidants and lots of nutrients.

sweet potato growing with kids

So how do we get these tasty little gems of loveliness to grow? Sweet potatoes start with a slip. You can grow your own slips by taking a sweet potato and placing it in a glass of water. You can put three toothpicks around the potato to suspend it in the glass if you wish. Make sure to get an organic potato or one you’ve harvested the year before.

toddlers harvesting sweet potatoes

Conventional store bought potatoes are treated with anti-sprouting chemicals that prevent them from growing sprouts. Once your sweet potato begins to sprout, the shoots will grow straight upward. When they are 4-6 inches tall, you can break them off and plant them in the ground.

sweet potato harvest

You can also purchase slips from garden supply stores or catalogs. This year we ordered ours from Seed Saver’s exchange. When they come, they are fairly dry and don’t look like much, but stick them in the ground and give them some water, you’ll be amazed at how fast they get to work! You’ll need to plant them about 2 feet apart and they grow A LOT! In Oklahoma, planting time for slips is between May and June.

kids harvesting sweet potatoes

As the sweet potatoes grow, they produce the most beautiful vines. The leaves of the vines are actually edible as well. You can use them as you would any other greens. The vines are voracious so make sure you have a sturdy trellis or large area for them to sprawl. As fall approaches, your vines should begin to produce flowers. You can start digging your potatoes any time after you see flowers appear. This is the signal the growth is slowing down.

growing sweet potatoes

We have harvested one of our beds and got around 60 pounds of sweet potatoes from one 3 x 10 raised bed. We will harvest the other one right before it gets cold. I don’t remember ever seeing flowers on it yet, so we are giving it some more time.

Make sure to harvest your sweet potatoes before your first frost. If you miss it and the leaves do get frost, harvest them immediately because the frosted leaves can cause the sweet potatoes to begin to rot in as little as a day.

Growing sweet potatoes is one of the most rewarding things we do. The kids love to plant the slips and the LOVE finding the treasures as we dig in the dirt. They love comparing the shapes and sizes and trying to find the biggest one.

Be careful as you harvest your potatoes of any kind as your tools can damage them. If the kids scratch the potato a little, it usually will heal itself, but watch and make sure you don’t see signs of spoilage in those areas. With little kids, you are most likely going to get some damage during harvest.

There are very few pests that bother sweet potatoes. Voles may eat a few of the tubers on occasion. We haven’t had any problems with animals at all in our first 4 years of growing them, thank goodness. Grasshoppers will chew on the leaves, but they still seem to keep on growing, so that’s not really a concern that we have seen. Other than that, I have not heard of anything bothering them. They are a fairly worry and fuss free growing project.

If you have never tried to grow sweet potatoes, I would totally recommend you give it a whirl. Our raised beds have about 10 inches of soil in them and that’s plenty to give us bumper crops of yummy goodness. The vines add a ton of beauty to your garden as well. Grow some yummy sweet potatoes with your little ones (or on your own), you won’t be sorry!

 

 

What to do in the Garden in October!

October is a busy garden time as we prepare for the first frost of the year in Oklahoma. It’s time to put a lot of the garden to bed for winter. Adding compost to each bed is a great way to prepare for spring. It adds nutrients and moisture holding ability to your soil. I just layer mine on top in October and let the worms and other beneficials churn it into the soil over the winter.

Adding a cover crop or mulch to the beds will also help prepare your beds for spring. I have never planted cover crops, but if you want to learn about them, click here.

We heavily mulch our beds over the winter with leaves, straw, or some other material we can get for free or cheap. I have an awesome friend who “buries” me in leaves every fall, so I take advantage of that and use it in most of my beds. It works GREAT! Sometimes all you need to do is put the word out and you can get all the materials you need. They have so much, they are glad to get rid of it. Before I found that great source, I would drive around the neighborhood and grab bagged leaves off the curb of my neighbor’s houses.


straw mulch

The mulch prevents erosion of your garden soil and prevents the soil from compacting into a hard layer over the winter as precipitation falls. Have you ever been in the woods and lifted up the layer of leaves that have fallen from the trees? It’s rich, black, and sweet smelling soil under there that is teeming with microorganisms and nutrients. Nature knows what she’s doing. I try to duplicate that with my mulching. In spring, we just scoot the leaves that are left over and plant right into the bed with no other prep needed. Click here to see how we put our garden to bed for winter.

There are a few things we grow over the winter, so those beds are planted and we are eagerly awaiting crops from them. Last year, we grew and ate kale, Brussel sprouts, and herbs all winter and into spring. We are going to try that again this year. We also planted cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, swiss chard, and a third round of green beans for the fall, so those beds are still working away.

October garden produce

Soon it will get too cold for the tomatoes, peppers, okra, and the like to continue producing any more and we will clean those beds out and prep them for winter as well. I let them grow as long as they will to get as much food stored up for winter as we can. We pull the tops off the plants and compost them if they are bug and disease free, and we leave the roots in the ground to add more nutrients to the soil. By spring, they are composted and the bed is ready to go.

October is sweet potato harvesting time. One bed of sweet potatoes has flowered and been harvested, and the other is just flowering, so we will harvest those right before the first frost. We are watching the weather closely. We got 60 pounds out of the first bed, so we are hoping for that much from the second one. We love sweet potatoes and they store great!

gardening with kids digging sweet potatoes

Another October project is garlic planting. Garlic is planted in October in Oklahoma and harvested in June, so chose a bed you aren’t planning to use for anything else. I rotate my crops from bed to bed each season, but the garlic stays in the same bed year after year. Click here to learn about growing your own garlic. 

October is the last busy month in the garden until spring. The garden is giving its last hoorah. We are enjoying every bite of what we know is limited tasty goodness and we have prepared as much as we can to eat this winter. We’ve been dehydrating, blanching, freezing, and curing everything we can manage to and we hope that will supplement what we are eating until the garden wakes up and bears more beautiful gifts for us next season.

Be sure to pin for later!

what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-october

What Growing on in the Garden in September

I may have mentioned a time or two that this year has been a super tough year in the garden. We were plagued with rabbit attacks on all our seedlings, raccoons, possums, and other creatures have ravaged our ripening crops taking hundreds of pounds of food, and the squash bugs systematically destroyed everything in their path starting with the squashed, moving to the cucumbers, and ending with devastating all of the melons. We did everything we could to control them without chemicals and they just kept moving forward. I think there is a special place in hell for those nasty creatures…but everything has to eat, so…anyways. It’s been a tough year, but we’ve still managed to grow 30 pounds of food in September and a total of 485 pounds this season. It’s far from our goal of 1000, but still, we’ve been eating some fresh things and had the chance to get a few things stored for winter in the freezer.

As the weather is cooling down, we are seeing the return of our tomato and pepper production.

Growing tomatoes with kids


growing peppers with kids

Some of our fast growing fall crops are coming in now, such as these pretty little radishes, our second round of green beans, and lettuces.

growing radishes with kids

growing green beans with kids

growing arugula with kids

picking radishes with kids

The kids are enjoying picking the radishes.

We also have harvested a few sweet potatoes, but there is much more to look forward to there.

kids digging sweet potatoes

growing kale with kidsOur fall kale is coming on strong (even some seeds that were spilled in the gravel are doing nicely) Last winter, we grew kale all winter, so we saved the seeds from that plant and replanted them to try it again this winter.

growing okra with kidsThe okra is still producing us some tasty pods to enjoy.

growing swiss chard with kids

The Swiss chard is bouncing back from the heat as well.

We hope to continue harvesting some delicious fresh food throughout October and hopefully there will be some things to enjoy this winter in the garden as well. Our herbs are still growing strong.

What’s growing on in your garden today?

 

What to do in the Garden in September

September is finding us a little cooler temperatures and a little rain here and there. At Little Sprouts, we are not harvesting a lot because of our animal ravage we have sustained all summer, but we have thinned down the amount of animals ravaging, so now we are seeing some things starting to come back. Since the temps are cooler, our tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers are starting to produce again.

Get ready for the end of the season.

In September, it’s time to prune your tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos so whatever fruit is on them will mature. If you leave the plants still growing and flowering, they won’t have time to ripen the fruit that results, but the fruit you already have will have less chance of maturing as well. To prune, just cut the flowers off everywhere you see them and the stems they are on as well.

september tomatoes


In September, it’s time to pull all the plants that are disease or bug infested or have died in the heat and clean out the gardens that are done. It’s also time to add compost to each garden and top the beds off with mulch to protect the microorganisms and beneficial bacteria and bugs from the weather. If you leave your beds covered throughout the winter, you will have less moisture evaporating and less erosion of your soil. Another option is to plant cover crops in your beds for winter.

Harvest sweet potatoes.

It’s almost time to harvest our sweet potatoes, some have flowered and are ready, and some have not yet flowered so we will wait until it’s about to freeze to harvest them. If you have sweet potatoes planted, keep an eye on the weather for the best time to harvest. If the greens freeze, harvest them immediately. If you don’t get a freeze, the longer you wait, the more pounds of sweet potatoes you will get, so wait if you can.

Our okra plants are still producing prolifically, so we will leave them until they stop. You can make selections in your garden based on what’s still producing and what you want to keep tending.

september children's garden okra

If you haven’t planted seedlings for your fall crops, you still have a little time left to plant them. Broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, peas, radishes, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and other fall things can still be planted in Oklahoma, but hurry, the window of opportunity is almost gone.

Plant fall/winter crops.

There is a type of lettuce called Mache that you can plant now that should grow all winter long in your garden providing you with some greens. Last year, Brussels sprouts and kale also wintered over in our garden and continued to grow.

You can plant garlic at the end of September or beginning of October, whichever you prefer. I like to wait until October to have the kids plant ours. We will be planting around the 15. Check out our post on how to grow garlic for tips on doing that, click here.

What do you still have growing in your garden in September?

Don’t forget to pin for later!

 September garden chores

Get Growing…With KIDS!

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I have been given a wonderful opportunity to do a radio show talking about getting my kids in the garden. I feel showing the next generation how to grow their own food is of utmost importance! I also feel giving them top quality, chemical free food is equally important. I loved talking about this with my friend Karen on her show Lil Suburban Homestead on Prepper Broadcasting.

The conversation with Karen was so much fun. I hope I can inspire others to get their kids in the dirt and growing! Brain connections are formed very early in life, so the younger we are when we learn things, the more lasting effect that has on our development. Birth to three years of age, or early childhood is the most important time in a child’s life for learning. The garden is a magical teacher of all types of sensory experiences and any other academic interest you might have.


Radio Show, Lil Suburban Homestead, Prepper BroadcastingThe garden teaches colors, sights, smells, math, shapes, pre reading skills, life cycles, and I could go on forever, but you get the idea. There is no better classroom for anyone than the garden. We learn about failure and success, we learn patience and to handle disappointments, we can learn just about anything in this wondrous place.

Check out the link here to the show to listen to what we talked about on the radio show and get inspired to get growing with some little people. I hope it can inspire you to get growing, whether your kids are 1, or you are 99. Get your hands in the dirt for some fun and learning that you won’t forget!

I’m so honored you are interested in what we are doing at Little Sprouts. If you want to see more about how we got started in our Preschool garden, click here or here.

 

 

Learn How to Garden with Kids the Right Way!

When I was a kid, my family and I watched Oklahoma Gardening every Saturday morning. It’s a fond memory I’ve always carried. For the past few years, since we got a dvr, I’ve recorded the show every Saturday and watched it sometime during the week. Well, my Little Sprouts and I were featured on a segment of Oklahoma Gardening! WOWIE!

I have never wanted to be on TV, but let me tell you how it happened. Last year Oklahoma Gardening started a new contest to see viewer’s gardens. Participants had to submit photos of their gardens. Oklahoma Gardening would put the photos on their Facebook page and fans were asked to vote on what gardens they wanted to see in the contest segment of the show.

I thought this would be a great way to get the word out about what I’m doing at Little Sprouts. I am hoping to spread the joy and love for gardening with kids to as many people as possible because it’s so important. Teaching kids about healthy food and where their food comes from is one of the most valuable things I am giving to my kids. I want to encourage others to do it too. I have written a book that is yet to be published and am writing this blog to spread the word. A feature on a television show could really help me reach a lot of people, and I love that it’s an Oklahoma show because I feel Oklahoma is in big trouble with nutrition. When we make a change in ourselves, we touch those around us. I want to help my state become healthier!


I took some photos of the garden and submitted them to the contest. Then I got a Facebook message asking me if I would want to be a feature on the show instead of just be part of one. WOW! I sure did say yes! I am not an outgoing or confident person, but I knew this is something I needed to do to get the word out, so I agreed and they said they would contact me the following spring.

After plans were finalized and everything lined up for us and them, they came to film the show. We had a great time! They were very nice and easy to work with. I loved the enthusiasm they had for what we are doing here. It was great to show them what the kids enjoy in the garden.

filming oklahoma gardening at little sprouts

picking carrots on Oklahoma Gardening

Little Sprouts TV Filming Day

This was definitely a memorable day in my life. I’m so proud of my kids and all they are learning. I’m so proud of the hard work my amazing husband and I have put into giving them the best experiences we can. I feel so blessed to have been able to do this, and I’m so grateful to Oklahoma Gardening for featuring us on a segment of their show. What a blessing!

Little sprouts being filmed for Oklahoma Gardening tv show

If you’d like to watch the full episode, click here for the link. It is a great episode packed with tons of valuable information. The Oklahoma Gardening website is full of great information as well. It’s a treasure of knowledge, click here to check it out.

Our segment is at the beginning of the show. My kids love the garden and they were adorable showing that to Oklahoma Gardening. For more information on what we’re growing and how we got started, check out other posts on the blog. Click here to go to one now.

Okahoma Gardening segment

Gardening with kids ROCKS and so does Oklahoma Gardening!

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