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Garden Fun, Homestead Lessons & Baked Kale Chips

Now that spring is here we all get to start and end our days out in the fresh air again. We couldn’t be happier! This morning during our garden tour we checked all the plant progress.

The grapes are setting little grape clusters that need pinching off, the strawberry plants are flowering and seedlings are coming up everywhere.

We even got some “circle of life” learning under the belt today when Everly discovered a quickly drying out worm in the dirt.

She informed me the worm was “all dried up” and continued to watch it and poke it. “Mama it is moving! Let’s fix it” she said.

I told her to get a small amount of water from our rain barrel so we could make some mud to cover it with. Then we talked about how worms need mud and to be burred in the dirt.

Next I was unpleasantly surprised by a dead field mouse the cat left for us on top of the chicken hutch. While I scraped it up and tossed it in the trash we talked about how the cat likely played it to death. Everly wanted to take it to a doctor but I explained that it had been dead too long and that it couldn’t be saved. “Oh, okay mama. Poor guy” was her response as we tossed the poor thing in the trash.

Then we planted some annual flower seeds in places around the yard and she picked some pretty weeds that she wanted to keep on the table in a vase.

Next, we planted Everly the highly anticipated Sunflower/ Bean Tepee that we had thought up after seeing a similar Bean Tepee on Pintrest.The goal is to grow beans up the sunflower stalks for added functionality and fun. Here is how you can do it too:

Planting a Sunflower/ Bean Tepee-

Just take about 19 sunflower seeds and plant them in a semi-circle/ rounded horse shoe shape that is big enough for your kiddo to go in. Once the seeds sprout, plant about 10 or 15 bean seeds along the outside of the semi-circle.

Train the bean stalks to grow around the sunflower stalks. When sunflowers grow to about 2-3ft tall you can braid and twist their tops together to make a Tepee like roof. They will continue to grow upward and then bloom while their stalks make an exciting little hiding area for curious kiddos and a sturdy support for the beans.

Sunflower stalks are strong and roots go deep so chances are your teepee frame will remain after the end of the growing season and can be used to grow beans the following season. Just be sure to clip off your dried sunflower heads and put the seeds in a bird feeder after the season or the entire area surrounding your teepee will become a sunflower forest the following season as the seeds fall from the bloom heads and germinate.

Everly and I also clipped some kale to cook up today which was another nice adventure for her. She loves to do big person stuff like harvesting foods from the garden. Last year she loved to be in charge of carrying the “picking bucket” when we harvested things, this year she’s full on harvesting stuff herself which is great for her.

We also explored the mint plants, complete with taste testing their leaves and she found a wild onion bulb while helping me plant seeds that she washed and added to the harvest pile all on her own.

Now we are off to bake some yummy kale chips with the large kale plants that overwintered in our garden and are about to go to seed. Here is a recipe you can try:

Baked Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil grapeseed oil (or other heat stable non GMO oil. Note: olive oil isn’t heat stable and isn’t good for cooking.)
  • Sea salt to taste. (I used raw Hemalayan Pink Salt for added nutritional value.)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

Do you grow a garden that your kids help with? If not I’d highly recommend you start a kitchen garden, even if it is just a few plants that you’ll know you can use for eating.

Getting the kids out and letting them get dirty is wonderful for them! Not only is it an activity you do together but it teaches them about responsibility, food, nutrition, cooking, resourcefulness and even life lessons if you are mindful of the fleeting opportunities.

If you haven’t already, unplug from technology for a bit and go get those hands dirty with your kids.

<p>A city girl turned farmer. Yes women do farm ;) Owner and operator of direct to consumer, Ryder Family Farm in Southern Illinois.<br /> Wearing many hats I'm also a mother to 3, a wife, a yogi, a farmer, a 4-H & Girl Scout leader & hospitality manager.</p>

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