One of 3 squares in our garden.

Anna and I have a new hobby….well, mostly it is my new hobby but she enjoys helping. We are trying to eat healthier but with the cost of produce it is difficult so we decided to do some gardening. Anna and I have had fun planning what we would plant and planting the seeds. We have built our garden based on the book “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. It is a raised bed with Mel’s mix for the soil. So far we have planted: peas, beans, pumpkins, butternut squash, onions, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries, spinach, carrots and herbs. This year is more of trial and error to see what we can get to grow. 

Anna looking for cabbage worms to destroy.

Jack made us 3 four-foot by four-foot boxes. Then Anna and I put Mel’s mix into the boxes. Mel’s mix is a combination of vermiculite, peat moss and compost. Anna had great fun mixing the soil and thought it fun to mix the cow and chicken manure. Then we made a grid out of string that each make a square foot so I have 16 squares in each box. Then Jack made vertical supports for the vine vegetables such as peas, squash, beans and tomatoes. 

So far the garden has grown beautifully except for the dreaded cabbage butterfly. They keep laying eggs on the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants. We have managed to keep the damage minimal but Anna likes to use her magnify glass to look for Cabbage Worms. 

We had our first harvest today….lettuce. It was yummy! Anna really enjoyed eating a salad made with the lettuce she picked. She goes out to the garden everyday to see if the corn is ready. I keep reminding her it has a long way to go but she still checks.

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Anna and Gracie at the butterfly exhibit.

Every other year the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens has a butterfly exhibit. In the conservatory they release several differnt species of butterflies. Anna loves butterflies especially after we studied them last year.  Tubby and the kids came for a visit in March and we decided to go to the butterfly exhibit.  We had such great fun at the exhibit. The butterflies were everywhere! Anna and I even had a butterfly land on each of us.  

It was a great to review what we learned last year while studying the butterflies. I was very surprised at how much she remembered about butterfly behaviors, body parts, and life cycle.

We went with a group of friends to Homeschool Day at the Zoo. Anna and I love going twice a year to this special day at the zoo dedicated to homeschoolers. They always have special zoo keeper chats, educational program and other activities. This time we got to see them feed the alligator and hippos. I think it is the first time we actually got to see the hippos out of the water. We also got to visit the new Museum of Living Art before it was open to the public.

Anna and her friend Zoe worked on a scavenger hunt looking for specific animals living in different habitats. They had a great time trying to locate the animals and helping each other.

Anna and Zoe eating donuts for Anna's breakfast celebration for the first day of school.

Anna and Zoe eating donuts for Anna's breakfast celebration for the first day of school.

So it has been a very long time since I last blogged. So much has happened. We have been very busy with moving to a new house, visits to the doctors and all of Anna’s summer activities. I think things have settled down for a little while…well not really but that is what I keep telling myself.

Jack’s health is getting better. He has started volunteering some for the National Marrow Donor program to get people signed up for the Bone Marrow Registry. They don’t have many volunteers and it is nice the people they are talking to can see an actual person who has benefited from someone taking the time to donate.

Anna has started first grade on August 3rd. Since we homeschool Anna we decided to make her first day back to school very special so we had a donut breakfast with one of her friends. She is learning so many new things. This year’s curriculum revolves around American history so we have spent the first 3 weeks learning about the settling of St. Augustine and Jamestown.

Anna with her caterpillarsWe are continuing to watch the butterfly caterpillars grow. They are getting really long and fat. We have had them almost a week so I expect them to start forming their chrysalis any day. We have been working on a butterfly lapbook this week learning the anatomy of a butterfly.

We are also experimenting with growing our own pineapple tree. Last week Anna was interested in how pineapples grow since there are no seeds so we looked it up on the internet and discovered you root the tops. Currently, we have the top of a pineapple sitting in water growing roots.

Anna with her butterfly larvae aka caterpillars.Anna has been waiting everyday this week for the mail to arrive hoping to get a small package in the mail. Finally today Anna received her butterfly larvae or caterpillars today in the mail. In about a week according to the instructions they should start forming chrysalids. We will keep them in the sealed cup until after all the chrysalids have formed and then we will move them into the butterfly habitat. I’ll keep you posted on how our Painted Lady butterfly science project is going.The black spot in the cup is one of the caterpillars. 

An interesting fact about Painted Lady Butterflies….they taste with their feet.

Anna enjoying the Texas Bluebonnets.One of my favorite flowers is the Texas Bluebonnet. We actually had Bluebonnets as the main flower at our wedding. I love driving down Texas roads in the spring and looking at the sea of Bluebonnets growing along the road. Anna and I went to a field today behind a friend of ours office where the Bluebonnets covered a hill. We were going to wait until next week but I was afraid with it getting near freezing tonight that the flowers may not be as pretty after the cold weather. We had such a great time discussing how the Bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas and how they grow. We also discussed how because the Bluebonnet is a wild flower we should not pick it so that it can grow for others to enjoy. Texas Bluebonnets