Gardening With Children


Gardening – Children – can they go together and still yield produce? Definitely!

Garden Time Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 all dealt with different aspects of planning your garden. What about planning to involve your children – your family? Our lifestyle change involves working together as a family most of the time. Whether we are home educating or working in the vineyard planting, pruning or training – we are together. Planning, planting and harvesting our garden is no different. Our children love to be part of it and after all the work, they have a greater appreciation for the fresh produce!

Let your children have input as to the planning of the garden and where things are planted. Use this time to teach them about gardening – from location selection, plant selection to growing zones. Make use of teachable moments to instruct and build relationships.

Let them help with the planting. While your rows may not be perfectly straight and plants not equally spaced, the rewards of seeing your children excited about the growing plants are worth the sacrifice. Our young ones love to dig the holes for the plants, as well as, pressing the seeds into the soil and covering them up. Capitalize on their excitement!

Let your children help harvest. This is the most fun! They love hauling the fresh vegies to the house – they try to fill the wagon as full as possible! What a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment – they are so proud  when the plants, they helped plant and care for, actually produce!

For a perfect looking, perfectly spaced garden, I would do it myself. But, the joy I see in my children as they help with our family garden is worth so much more than straight rows! They learn great work ethics, as well as, building family relationships as we work together as a family!

Besides, call it selfish, but, why would I want to do it all by myself – it is a lot of work!

Further Reading on Gardening: Gardening From Seeds

Photo Credit: ©

Texas Sunrise!

Every cloud has a silver lining!

I never tire of the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets here in west Texas. Each is unique and absolutely gorgeous. This seems to remind me that no matter how dark and gloomy things may look, there is light waiting to dispel the darkness. A new day is dawning with new hope, adventure and challenge!

Garden Time! Part 3

Planning your garden takes time as we have discussed in Garden Time: Part 1 and  Part 2 but the reward are well worth it. Today there are a few miscellaneous items to think about.

Have you ever noticed the colorful maps on the back of seed packets? Those are not just for decoration. They give valuable information about that particular seeds hardiness in different areas of the country. The different colored areas indicate growing zones. Growing zones are based on temperatures, daylight hours and general climate. Favorable planting conditions vary from one zone to another so it is important to consider your location when planting seeds.

If you have gardened before, are you switching your varieties to different locations than where they were in previous years? Crop rotation is usually thought of as important to the commercial farmer. But, it is also important to the backyard gardener. Certain plants are more prone to specific diseases and insects. Crop rotation discourages these from becoming concentrated in your soil. The squash bug is an example of this. Since crops use nutrients from the soil differently, crop rotation is an important step to help prevent soil depletion.

Lastly, I mentioned that when selecting your garden location, it must have water access. Vegetable plants as a rule need plenty of water, especially during germination. Sprinklers, soaker hoses , as well as, underground irrigation are several of the methods or watering your garden plants. Probably the least least efficient yet most commonly used and conveninient are sprinklers. They are inefficient because of water loss to evaporation. We used sprinklers while living in Alabama but did not water during the heat of the day because of the potential for evaoprative water loss. Here in west Texas with such a dry climate, we primarily used soaker hoses last year. This year, we have put in underground drip tape in the garden area.

I have attempted to cover at least the basics of planning your garden. Hopefully,  it will help and be thought provoking. While the points covered may seem overwhelming, the time spent planning now can make the difference in a mediocre garden and a prolific one!

For further reading: Gardening With Children, Gardening From Seeds.


Photo Credit: ©



Chocolate Candy Bar Cake

choco candy bar cake

Chocolate cake is good.

But, Chocolate Candy Bar Cake is better!

Way better!

In fact, Chocolate Candy Bar Cake is quite possibly the best and last chocolate cake recipe you will need!

If you are looking for a decadent dessert, look no farther – the Chocolate Candy Bar Cake recipe is it!

Now, “need” may not be the appropriate word when talking about a chocolate cake but you gotta try this recipe – I think you will agree that you “need” it!

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Garden Time! – Part 2


In Garden Time!, last week, planning your garden location was determined to be one of the first steps to planning. This week I will continue with other factors to consider in the planning process.

When planning your garden, one question is whether to buy seeds or plants. There are many vegetables which are easily started by sowing seeds directly into your garden soil: squash, (summer, zuccnini,) pumpkin (also a squash), beans, corn, peas, cucumbers, watermelon, cantelopes…

Others however, must be started indoors from seed and transplanted. They are transplanted, or replanted to your garden once the weather and soil warms and there is no danger from frost. Tomatoes are a good example of these, along with eggplant and peppers (bell, jalapeno). To have plants which are large enough to transplant, you must start early. Usually seeds must be started 8 weeks before the projected time comes to transplant. In addition to time, indoor space must also be available. Seeds are definitely less expensive than buying plants but also require more planning.

Logically, the next decion is where to purchase the seeds or plants. Local stores often carry both seeds and plants. Whether a local feed store or WalMart, buying locally is, many times, more convenient. Another option is to order from a seed company. I have used Territorial Seed Company and have been very pleased. Advantages of seed companies over local retailers include:

  • A narrow line of products all related to the gardening field which may translate into better quality.
  • Valuable customer service to answer questions and help in the decision making process.

I will be doing a combination in our garden this year. A friend very generously gave us a greenhouse, so I now have room to start my own seeds! Since the greenhouse will not be heated, I will be starting the seeds inside our house and then moving them to grow and get sunshine to the greenhouse. I will be posting pictures of the greenhouse in the next few days and hopefully, you will be able to see the progress of its building. For now, it is in pieces waiting to be assembled.

Further Reading about Gardening: Garden Time: Part 1,  Garden Time! Part 3, Gardening With Children, Gardening From Seeds.

Photo Credit: ©




Time to Make More!

Homemade laundry detergent? I haven’t made any in about 8 months now. I haven’t needed to! Thanks to the combination of coupons and a sale, I had  stockpiled. But, with a large family, it can’t be helped; it was all used up.

So, I made more homemade laundry detergent. I actually had forgotten how quick and easy it is to make. And, oh yes, it cleans clothes wonderfully. The problem now is, everyone is accustomed to filling the bottle top, used to measure the liquid detergent, half-full. But, with the homemade laundry detergent it really only takes 2 tablespoons of the powder! So, I used a marker to mark a fill line on the scoop. It makes it easier on the children, and me!

You can see the yellow shreds of bar soap. I used Dial for this recipe but have also used Safeguard – whatever soap I have gotten a “deal” on, is what I use. I really think  any soap would work. It is a great inexpensive way to get scent-free detergent; just use scent-free soap.

If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to laundry detergent, give this homemade laundry detergent recipe a try.


As you can see, we have sold our boat! A couple of weeks ago, I posted How to Avoid Scams and using common sense when dealing with people who are selling items. A young couple drove all the way from Abilene which is about 3 hours away. We convinced her to wait for the title and when it, came they they drove up. They were so excited as this is there first boat ever.

While it was sad to see it go because of all the fun, family-time memories, it was also wonderful to sell it! A friend said,

“The second happiest day of your life is when you buy a boat. The happiest day of your life is when you sell it!


Garden Time!


With spring around the corner, it is time to begin thinking about your vagetable garden. Are you ready?

Until we moved to Texas, I had never been fond of gardening. Whether it was lack of need, lack of experience  or lack of success, I am not sure, maybe a combination. But, with our lifestyle change from the corporate world to farm life came a new love for gardening. The first year here in west Texas, our garden did well, yielding enough produce to eat, as well as, some to freeze. Last year, with greater forethought and planning, it was a huge success. The Lord blessed our garden produce so that we were able to fill three chest freezers!

Planning a garden takes a little more time, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a series on planning your garden and hopefully give you ideas which will lead to a successful one.

One of the first considerations should be the location of the garden. The location should be easily accessible, have good soil and water access. Once the location is determined you will have a better idea of how large a space is available for planting. The size will determine what and how much of each vegetable will be planted. Thankfully, we had a large space available so we planted a large amount in a wide variety of vegetables. If you do not have the luxury of a large space, think about what your family enjoys eating.

Investigate the different types of gardens. The traditional gardening method is a grouping of like plants together in a specified area. Most of us choose this method for convenience and ease.  Container gardening makes use of containers or pots to grow plants in. This is especially good for city and apartment dwellers. Raised bed gardening has gained popularity in the past as an answer to minimal space availability and as a way to have total control over the soil. Raised beds are built and filled with a mix of soil including compost and manure. They drain well and are especially good for the elderly and disabled as they can sit comfortably while gardening. Hydroponic gardening is another technique used to grow a wide variety of plants. In hydroponic gardening the nutrients are in the water fed to the plants rather than primarily in the soil. There are several different watering systems  available for this type of gardening.

There is nothing like eating fresh vegetables from your own garden. If you are new to gardening there are many resources available to help you get started. In addition to books on the subject, do not overlook the people around  you. Ask questions, get advise and get started!

Further reading about garden planning: Garden Time! Part 2, Garden Time! Part 3, Gardening With Children

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