Summer nature study-gardens

As I’ve mentioned before, most of our summer science takes the form of nature studies. This year has proven to be no exception.

The kids each have their own gardens this year and they each chose a theme.

K has decided on an herbal garden. She has planted mint, basil, dill, tarragon, lemon-balm, catmint, sweetleaf (which is stevia I believe), parsley and chives. She plans on learning about how to preserve and use her herbs and would like to try to make some teas, oils, vinegars and the like.


B has planted a *salsa garden* with several types of tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cilantro and onions. He is already looking forward to all the chopping πŸ˜‰ He has some interesting plants in there such as *Mr. Stripey* tomatoes and purple bell peppers.



M just planted a bunch of seeds, mostly beans and sunflowers. The beans are growing like crazy and we haven’t seen the sunflowers yet 😦 Luckily Grandpa has some plants he can share with her.

W and I have planted some stuff of our own, or I should say W has. I am not allowed to touch anything since I have a black thumb of death. He planted several early girl tomatoes, some banana peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, watermelon and birdhouse gourds. The gourds are probably doomed since I was the one soaked and scored them.

We don’t rely on our garden for sustenance since we really aren’t very good at growing things πŸ˜‰ It’s really more like a hobby. I like to try the interesting and unusual varieties and to try and keep them healthy and growing well. I don’t use chemical fertilizers and pesticides so that’s always interesting. This year we used Miracle Grow Organic garden soil in the raised beds as a base. For fertilizer we are using my dad’s tomato formula (ashes and Epsom salt as far as I can tell) and my mom’s tip of placing burnt matches around the bases of the pepper plants. We spotted some insects on the tomato plants so we sprayed them with a mixture of water, cayenne pepper and dish soap. When the slugs showed up we made a slug trap out of a soda bottle and some beer. I posted my recipes/instructions down below.

We’ve also snagged our first critter! The kids found a snail while building a stage for their Mythology play (that’s another post-coming soon!) and he (she?) is currently residing in a comfortably decorated mason jar being fed fish food and leaves to her (his?) heart’s content. Maybe we’ll have snail eggs again this year!


Homemade organic pesticide spray

1 gallon water
2 tbsp dish soap
1 tbsp cayenne pepper

Mix and spray on leaves of plant.


Slug Trap

Empty 1 liter bottle-clean
duct tape

Cut the bottle into two pieces buy slicing through it about 1/3 of the way down (right about where the top of the label sits). Remove the cap from the bottle and invert it so that fits inside the big part of the bottle. Attach with duct tape. Pour about 1″ of beer into the bottom of the bottle.

To set the trap, bury the bottle so that the top of the bottle is even with the surface and the inverted top makes a *bowl* with a hole (the bottle opening) at the bottom.

The slugs will be drawn by the beer and crawl into the bowl and down the hole and be trapped in the large part of the bottle. You will have to empty the trap (or thrown it out and make a new one) once in a while.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Oh, wow. What a brilliant idea! I didn’t think about having the kids be in charge of their own gardens. Hmmm. We’ve a rental, so we can’t go about digging up the place, but maybe a few large containers would be good for a start. Hmmm. Good thing to think about. Thanks for posting this!


  2. Posted by schooldownthelane on June 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Maria!

    We don’t actually dig anything up to make our gardens since the soil here is terrible. W makes raised beds out of 2X4s and we fill them with soil and peat moss and the like, then we plant our seeds/plants.

    We dismantle them after we harvest so the kids won’t trip over them when they get covered with snow. πŸ˜‰


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