Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March garden update

First, an admission of failure: the tomato seeds did not grow. Maybe 4 or so sprouted in each of my egg carton greenhouses...and then molded. They were fuzzy. It was just too wet. Maybe straight peat moss is a terrible medium for seed starting, or (probably) I just put too much water in it. Anyway, I tossed everything in the compost.

The new batch of compost, that is. First I moved my old batch to the garden! This picture shows what it looked like when I lifted the bottomless barrel off the pile in order to shovel it into the cart I borrowed from our neighbors. The compost could have used a few more weeks/months of "cooking" but I wanted to put it in the garden beds now, before my first planting.

I spread my compost (along with 3 additional bags of cow manure compost) over the two beds. The soil is delightfully rich and loose, and I have great hope that it will produce another bountiful harvest for us!

I decided to try semi-square-foot gardening for my first planting (carrots, lettuce, spinach, green onions, and turnips - which I bought solely out of curiosity...I don't even know if I like turnips!). I'm hoping the square plantings will yield more than rows did last year - we'll see! The lettuce in the right middle square came up on their own (from the seeds I planted there last fall). Nice!

I also planted some basil seeds in between the oregano and thyme in the first long planter. 4 strawberry plants survived from last summer (second long planter). Chocolate mint is sprouting up all over the large round pot, and I have one stem of green rosemary.

Recognizing letters in her own drawing

Yesterday I gave Teresa a pencil and paper. After drawing several long/sprawling squiggles across the page, she started making smaller marks and more controlled squiggles in one corner. I doubt she intended anything as she made each mark, and yet she told me what she saw in each one after she made it. I was very impressed that she recognized a number and some letters in her drawings.

Teresa can now recognize about 20 capital letters consistently. She still confuses V with Y, J with I, E with F, and X with K (but not vice versa on any of those pairs!) and just has difficulty remembering Q.

Sorting fruit

Teresa received the game Hi Ho, Cherry-O! as a birthday gift. Its age recommendation states 3 and up, and I wouldn't let a child who still puts small things in his/her mouth play with it unsupervised. But Teresa doesn't do that anymore and, even though she does not yet understand all the concepts of the game itself (although David guides her in playing it once a week or so), she LOVES sorting the colored fruits into their baskets.

The old version had all red cherries; the updated one has cherries, oranges, blueberries, and green apples. Teresa has been asking to play "cherries" almost every day for weeks, and I usually let her. She dumps the bag of fruit on the carpet and proceeds to sort them into the colored baskets. Then she brings the full red basket to me and the full blue basket to David, because she has deemed them our colors.

We've had a few spills that are tedious to clean up, but Teresa is usually helpful in that. So I consider "sorting fruit" a great skill-building/practicing task for her right now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Egg carton greenhouses

Last year I kept some of the seeds from my two favorite heirloom tomatoes, Cherokee Purple and Amish Paste. I meant to plant them a week or two ago, but I finally got around to establishing my egg carton greenhouses this week.

These plastic cartons are from Born Free brand eggs; they have two sections with egg pockets and one cover. To make a greenhouse for seed starting, I removed one of the egg pocket sections - it will be used for watering, underneath the other egg pocket section. Then I used a nail to poke several holes in the bottom of each egg pocket in the remaining section. Then I filled the pockets with moist peat moss (which I have left over from mixing soil in my raised beds).

Finally, I placed one tomato seed on top of each spot and used a plastic spoon to gently nudge it under the surface. One carton is full of Cherokee Purple seeds and the other of Amish Paste, so I could potentially get 12 of each (though that is highly unlikely).

I don't have any grow lights or especially sunny windowsills, so I'm not sure where to put these so they'll get adequate light and heat to germinate and grow.

Creativity and representation

We introduced Teresa to Playdoh just 1 week ago and she's already started "making things" upon request, in imitation of things we make, and, now, completely of her own volition. I do not believe David or I have made an airplane for her, so this came right out of her head:

It had two little wings, which she described to me.

Her "drawing" with a pen is also becoming more purposeful; it looks more like tight squiggles than sprawling scratches. Yesterday she drew some big squiggles and little squiggles and called them mamas/papas and babies.

Cleaning jewelry with baking soda

I've had "silver polish" on my wish list for years and I'm not surprised I never received it as a gift...it's a rather boring gift. But I just couldn't bring myself to purchase any...I only need a little, and very rarely, and it isn't cheap. So a while back I researched "cleaning silver" online and discovered that many people have used baking soda with success. I then put "clean jewelry with baking soda" on my To Do list.

Months later, I finally gave it a try! I figured it was a good sitting-at-the-table task for my very pregnant self to tackle. I set Teresa up with Playdoh beside me.

Using a baking soda/water paste and several damp and dry cloths, I tackled a handful of necklaces and several pairs of earrings. While the cleaning takes a lot of elbow grease (or should I say "knuckle grease", since it's mostly the fingers working hard?) and the results aren't perfect, the baking soda is pretty effective at removing tarnish. Best of all? It's cheap, plentiful, and completely chemical-free - safe for me and the environment!

I was delighted to discover two favorite pairs of dangling earrings that I had abandoned to the jewelry box a long, long time ago due to their tarnish. Granted, I haven't been wearing much jewelry since Teresa started pulling at it. When I stopped working outside the home I went from wearing earrings daily to wearing them some Sundays.

Maybe this rediscovery and refurbishing of some of my lovely things will inspire me to start wearing them again...at least until the next baby starts pulling at them!

You know your kid is Catholic when...

Teresa loves to peruse the DVDs in our DVD tower. She examines the covers of the "children's" movies as if they were picture books. This morning she brought this one to me:

and said, "The Body of Christ!"

Why, yes, dear...that does look like a chasuble he's wearing and he is holding something glorious aloft over an altar-like stone! :D