A few weeks ago, I opened up my Mama Teach Us meme to all my bloggy friends who might be interested in sharing things, lessons, field trips or activities they do with their children.
Kimberly from All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something was my first guest and today, I’m excited to host my second guest!
Sue from Cookies Chronicles has been super busy teaching her little man a few things about gardening. She’s volunteered to share her story with us today.
“Bruna, thanks for inviting me to participate in your Mama Teach Us meme. This is such a great idea!”
I love gardening, and I’ve always had a thing for the beautiful bugs that help my garden to thrive. Living in Alberta means some difficult gardening conditions. I’ll take all the help I can get!
Jack helped us plant the vegetable garden this year. Now when we ask him, “Where do tomatoes come from?,” he no longer says that they come from the Farmers Market or Safeway. He knows that things grow in gardens!
Jack and I have been talking a lot about our garden and what it needs to grow. It needs sunlight, water and the nutrients from the soil. But a garden needs more than just these things. It needs help from beneficial bugs too!
Jack and I made a special trip to the bookstore to pick out some fun books with lots of bug pictures and bug facts. We learned about some bugs that are helpful in the garden and some (I’m looking at you, aphids!) that’s aren’t so helpful.
Bees collect pollen (a source of fat and protein) and nectar (sugar – a source of energy) from flowers. The pollen attaches to their legs and is carried from one flowering plant to another. Many vegetables require this pollination to grow, so bees are good friends to vegetables gardeners like Jack. Plus, we love the honey they make, so we take care of our friends the bees!
We searched the plants that we know the bees like best. Our bees love catmint and borage (and pretty much anything purple) planted in large masses. (Click here for tips on how to attract bees to your garden.)
Next, we got out our shovels and dug (carefully) for worms. Worms help plants to grow in a couple of ways. They aerate the soil simply by carving tunnels and holes through it. This creates space for water that plants can make use of. The looser the soil, the easier it is too for plants to send out roots. In addition, worm ‘castings’ (aka ‘poop’) fertilize the soil creating a healthier environment for plants.
I thought it would be fun to make a worm farm. (Click here for instructions on building a simple worm farm.)
We set the worms aside (covered in soil) and prepared the worm farm. There are fancier ways to do this, and the thinner the container, the more likely you are to see the worms and the tracks they make. We used what we had, a plastic container, without the lid.
First, Jack added a layer of soil and pressed it down into the container. Next was a layer of sand (we used the stuff that was strewn all over our back patio from his sand and water table). Then a second layer of soil, pressed down and a final layer of sand. Later, Jack would be able to see how the worms mix up the soil and sand as they leave trails behind them.
We covered the worm farm with a towel to keep it dark and placed it on our front porch with a spray bottle for frequent misting. We haven’t seen the worms since, but we know they’re in there. We can see their tracks.
Next up were the ladybugs (also called ladybirds). We don’t use pesticides in our garden. Ladybugs help rid gardens of bothersome bugs like aphids.
We searched high and low and only found one ladybug! One! Well, that wouldn’t do, so off to the gardening centre we went to buy a bag of ladybugs.
The lady at the store warned me that they might all just fly away in one cloud if I wasn’t careful. The recommendation was to water the garden towards the end of the day (the water helps the ladybugs stick to plants) and then release the ladybugs in the evening when there is less risk of them being gobbled up by birds. Until we were ready to release them, we kept them in the fridge where they rested. The cold slows them down a bit too, so they’re less likely to fly away immediately after being released. I probably don’t have to tell you that I checked the seal on the bag a few times, and then wondered if they would bother to nibble a hole in the bag and find their way out into my fridge!
The release was successful. The ladybugs settled right into their new environment. Watch out aphids! I hope that we’ve managed to create a better balance of good to bad bugs in the garden… otherwise next I’ll be buying more aphids to feed the ladybugs!
Jack had a blast! And he learned a lot too. Every night now, we need to read his bug books before bed.
I`m always looking for new guests for Mama Teach Us. If you have an idea or a story to share about something fun you did with your kids, send me an email.
You can be my next guest feature!