Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Gardening with Kids: Garden in a Glove

The kids and I joined the Northern Plains Botanical Garden Society for their Garden in a Glove With Kids event this afternoon.  What a great kids event & kid friendly garden learning opportunity!  (Thank you to Gail for sharing her knowledge, time & afternoon with us.)  I love the idea of creating a mini-green house with a plastic glove so that all the sprouting and growing is visible to young inquisitive minds! :)

I love the idea and simplicity so much that I decided to share it with you so you can inspire the future gardeners in your home.

plastic gloves (kind used by food servers; nothing fancy)
permanent marker
5 cotton balls
5 seeds (5 different varieties is optimal but 5 of the same variety would work)
bread bag twist tie

How To:

1.  Write the names of each variety of seed on each finger.
2.  Moisten the cotton balls so they are just wet.
3.  Place seeds on the cotton ball.  (Choose the number of seeds based on the size of the seeds.  For example, a bean probably only needs one seed while carrots several.)
4.  Slide the seed and cotton ball into the labeled finger.  Do this for each variety.
5.  Gently blow air into the glove and twist to seal in the air.  Wrap a twist bread bag tie around the end to keep it closed.
6.  Place or hang the glove in a warm window and watch what happens.
7.  Once the seeds have sprouted, you can cut off each fingertip and plant the cotton ball and new seedling in soil for further garden/plant learning.

Consider including a few great book to read with your activity and make it a great science lesson. :)  Some great gardening books we have read are:
"Zinnia's Flower Garden" by M Wellington
"Jack's Garden" by H Cole
"From Seed to Plant" by Gail Gibbons
"The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book about How Things Grow" by Joanna Cole

I truly believe that memories are made when hands are involved and I love when we are making garden memories whether it is using the garden to learn, do a craft or harvest together.  Take time to share your love for gardening with the young people in your life!  For other kid friendly, education friendly ideas check some of my other posts here.

Happy Garden Learning!!! :D

Check other garden learning ideas at these link-ups as well:
Teaching Mamadiscover-explore-buttonThe Homeschool Village

 How fun!  This post was featured on the following sites...    :)
' The Ultimate Homeschool Linkup #16'
'Kids Science in the Garden'

Test Soil Temperature and Plant!

                             April 7, 2013                                                    April 23, 2013

Two weeks ago I said that I was ready to start outdoor planting.  Well, several snow storms and a lot of cold temps later we are finally expecting spring to hit this week.  My south facing garden bed is now completely snow free and today I decided to see if it is ready for planting.

How does one know if a garden bed is 'ready for planting'? 

First, if you did not clear the dead plant debris last fall, now is the time.  It really is best to clear dead debris in the fall so that any diseased material is removed and doesn't incubate for the following season.  It also allows the soil to warm up quicker in the spring.  If you have roots, bulbs or perrienal plants that need winter protection, cover them with a layer of fresh straw or chopped leaves rather than leaving their dead stems & leaves standing.

Second, the soil needs to be dry enough to work without causing clumping.  This is especially important in high clay soils like those we have in the Red River Valley.  Working the soil before it has adequately dried will create clods of soil that become very brick like once they dry.  You will not enjoy trying to break them up and neither will your plants.

                            about 4 inches deep                                       about 2 inches deep

Third, check the temperature of the soil.  Most seeds need at least 40F or greater soil temp to germinate.  You can use a soil thermometer or if you like, you can do like my Mom & raid your kitchen drawer for a reliable meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer at least two inches deep (seed planting depth) and wait a minute or two to take your reading.  Once your soil temp is 40F or greater, the soil is ready for the cool season seeds (peas, kale, spinach, some lettuce, etc).  If you are transplanting started plants, take a deeper soil temp to be sure the deeper soil is warm enough for the established roots of the transplants.

Now that I know my south bed is ready for planting, I am looking forward to getting my fingernails dirty later this week.  How about you?  Do you have a garden bed ready for spring planting?

Just encase you are wondering, my main veggie garden is still under snow as well as most of my front flower bed. 

Happy Spring Gardening from the Frozen North! ;)

More Light Please!

Tomatoes reaching for light and peppers just germinating in the center.
Did you plant a few seeds inside over the last several weeks?  Do they look like my tomatoes that I made the mistake of planting alongside some peppers that took over a week longer to germinate?  Are they a little 'leggy'?  If you answered yes to this last question then you and I need to provide our young friends with a little more light!  'What?' you say, 'I put them in my south facing window.  What more can I do?'  The answer is supplementary light.

Plants need more broad spectrum light than our northern latitudes can provide at this time of year.  For more details about light needs of your plants check out my post about lighting for seedlings that I wrote a couple of years ago.

So, what can you do to provide more light for you seedlings now that they are up and reaching for the sun.  You can buy something, make something or make what you have work...

Photo credit: Harris Seed Co
Buy Something:
This is the most expensive but also most likely the least time consuming option.  You can check out any number of on-line seed/nursery companies for light stands that range from a simple on the counter stand to a multi-layered, adjustable light stand.  I'll leave you to search those options out yourself since I have no experience with these.

Make Something:
This can be as expensive or in-expensive as you choose.  I took this option when I began my adventure in starting my own seeds.  I ended up spending about $45 on my 4 layer, 3 light stand about 4 years ago.  You can get more information on how I made my stand in my post on lighting for seedlings.  My stand has grown over the years, but the basic structure and working are still the same today.

I have also seen and pinned several ideas on Pinterest that would be worth checking out, like this counter top stand made from PVC pipe or this one from wood.

Make It Work:
I have a very good friend who decided to make what she has work and that for her was as simple as her under the cabinet lighting in the kitchen.  She places her seedlings on a shelf so that they are just a few inches under her standard florescent kitchen cabinet lights, turns the lights on and leaves them on.  I have watched her do this with success for several years and it works very well for her.

Whatever you choose to do, the key is placing the light about 2 inches above the seedlings and giving them the number of hours broad spectrum light they need.  Do that and your plants will be healthier and stronger when you are ready to move them outside into their summer homes.

I'd love to hear what you do to provide your seedlings with the light they need to stay strong and healthy.  If you make your own stand come back & let us know how it has turned out.

Happy Indoor Gardening. :)

Started Spring Planting Yet?

Main Garden
Are you ready to start planting your garden?  I was looking at my spring seed starting and planting guide today and realized that I am just 5 weeks from the average last 32F frost for my area!  That means that technically I should be able to plant spinach, kale, kohlrabi, potatoes, peas and other seeds already!  Woo! Hoo! Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to get all of those cool season seeds in the ground and enjoy some early garden produce!  :D
South Garden
A look out my windows tells me that it will be a week... or two, or three, or... until I will be planting anything in my main garden yet this year.  There is probably a foot of snow still standing in my main garden, but the little garden I started on the south side of the garage last year is almost clean of snow.  That little space is my little ray of garden 'hope' for early spring planting. :)  It is still too wet, but maybe next week it will dry out enough to drop a few seeds.

So, planting outside is at least a week away at my house.  How about yours?

Happy Spring Gardening...?  :)