Green Tomatoes & Purple Carrots

Indian Corn_DBG-CO_LAH_9050Green beans. Orange carrots. Red tomatoes. How normal. How boring. One of the joys of growing your own veggies is that you can have some fun and mix up the colors. Beans come in yellow and purple as well as green. Carrots can be white, yellow, orange, or purple. Tomatoes come in green (such as Green Zebra), purple, orange, yellow, or even sporting saucy stripes. Even fresh corn on the cob (as opposed to the dried stuff) now comes in fun colors. Why settle for growing what you can easily find at the market, when so many other options are waiting?


Gardening with Children: What to Grow (Part 2)

(If you missed it, Part 1 was a few weeks ago.)

When choosing plants for children to grow, remember that kids like to have fun.

Physostegia virginiana_Obedient Plant_DBG_LAH_7141How about flowers that do something? Every child loves to pinch the sides of snapdragon blossoms to make them snap! And Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana, left) earns its name because the individual flowers stay how you bend them.

Pole beans can be planted around a bamboo teepee. So can vining flowers such as scarlet runner beans or morning glories. Plant corn in a square with a hidden room in the middle. (Be sure to leave a door opening.) It’s all right if the corn isn’t fully pollinated. The goal isn’t dinner, but rather having fun—and how fun is it to grow your own house?! (more…)

Gardening with Children: Building the Garden

LAH_1247I’m not growing much of a garden this year. No seedlings are spouting under my plant lights. No plastic is warming the soil for my spring planting. I haven’t emptied the compost bin into the beds, and my greenhouse is still cluttered with dried cucumber vines and withered, brown tomato plants. Oh, I’ll probably sow a few summer squash seeds—I can’t quite bring myself to pay for zucchini in August—and maybe I’ll have time to put in some fall crops, but for the most part, this won’t be a veggie year.

No, I’m growing something much more important—grandchildren! In fact, I’m currently north of Seattle, helping my daughter and son-in-law after the arrival of their second daughter. Her older sister, at almost two, is keeping me on my toes—or on my knees—while my daughter recovers from childbirth. I miss my husband, who’s home feeding our cat and chickens, but I have to admit, I totally adore being a grandma! (more…)

Great Garden Advice

NGA websiteNeed some know-how on how to prune your lilacs? Want to cultivate the best-tasting carrots? Looking for a way to garden from your yard-less apartment? No matter what your gardening question might be, the National Gardening Association (NGA) has answers.

I first learned about this amazing nonprofit organization back in the early ’80s. My savvy husband subscribed me to their garden magazine, Gardens for All. It came on folded up, printed on thin, oversized paper… clearly a low-budget operation. But the information was first-rate.


Gardening Books for Children

Gardening with ChildrenMonday I posted some suggestions for books that might pique a child’s interest in birding. Today, I focus on books for budding gardeners. As I mentioned, I have a granddaughter. While she’s only seven months old, I plan to waste no time introducing her to the wonderful world of flowers, bugs, and dirt!

I confess… I’ve been buying books for this child before she was ever conceived. I’d see something, rationalize that it might be out of print by the time I have grandchildren, and stash it away for future use.


Birding Books for Kids

Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.

At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.


Birding with Children

winter-bird-count_fcnc_lah_6101My granddaughter, Willow, is only a month old, so it’s a bit too soon to be buying her binos and a field guide. Still, I’m looking forward to our first adventures outside, watching her joy as she discovers grass and flowers and ladybugs and, yes, birds. I hope she’ll be as fascinated with God’s creation as I am.

Since I hope to create a budding birder, I want to make sure I go about this in the right way. You can’t force a kid to love nature. So I’m already reading articles and talking to birding parents and grandparents about what works and what I should avoid.