Morris’ Garden

At age 4, Morris is more involved in gardening than you might think. One of his daily chores is to water the garden, and he does it well! Every square, every plant shows signs of showers when he’s done, so I trust him with this job, even though I was uncertain about giving him this responsibility at first.

Last night, he had quite the harvest. When we took an evening stroll after playing soccer in the yard, Morris said to his dad, “Look at the action in my garden!” By “action” he meant all the growing green beans. He pointed to various areas repeating, “Look at this action!” and “that action!”

As he picked, he called his green beans “guys,” as in, “Look at this guy!” as he pulled a bean off the vine, and “Look at that guy!”


He was so proud of the hand full of beans he brought into the house, and he quickly grabbed a tape measure – as he’s seen me do – to measure his longest on his own: 7 ½ inches! He holds the record, and boy, is our little guy proud.


Cucumber Count

Boys love competition. They will race to the top of the stairs, see who can put on their shoes the fastest, run to tag a parent first (This one always surprises me, as a “tag” usually has a lot of Boy Force behind it.), kick the first soccer goal, empty the dishwasher rack, the list goes on and on…

So, I thought we could add a little competition with our cucumbers that are growing in abundance: the most, the longest, the fattest, the heaviest, the prickliest, the most unique… Lots of possibilities here for each boy to win several times.

Jude harvested eight – Eight! – last night. Before he started, we had no idea there were so many. Like he said earlier, cucumbers are sneaky. They sprout quickly, and some of his were even hiding in the tomato cage.

Right now Jude holds the record for the longest at 8 -1/2″! Rex might have him beat for the fattest and heaviest though.

Picked On the Vine Contest Contender


Rex 4 3 7”
Jude 8 4 8 ½”


Red and Purple

There’s a lot of lovely green in our gardens, but when we got home from a family wedding this weekend we saw RED and PURPLE! Several Roma and Early Girl tomatoes were turning reddish-orange, and the body of the first eggplants were peeking out purple. It was exciting to see such colorful changes.


Morris also found several record-breaking pole beans in his garden. Check out these guys!


July 17 Measurements

Look how much the tomato plants have grown! Thirty to forty inches!

Jude’s corn is, of course, doing what Iowa corn does in the summer… but it is still amazing to consider what a little corn seed grew into.

The boys’ gardens are full and lush. We look back at pictures of their newly planted gardens where you can still see dirt in each square. Green beans and pea plants have spread out and up. Herbs have filled out their squares. And some plants – the tomatoes and cucumbers, of course – can dominate their space and move into others. We are having a great growing season!


REX June 4 June 11 *June 26 July 4 *July 17
Tomato 11-½” 19” (1’7”) 32” (2’8”) 42”

9 toms


9 toms

Chili Red


10” 12” 4 peppers

4 flowers

7 peppers

4 flowers

7 peppers

My peppers are turning red. I’m growing more and more cucumbers. ...I’m going to be so sad when there’s no plants in our garden…” –Rex

JUDE June 4 June 11 *June 26 July 4 *July 17
Tomato 11-½” 12.5” 24” 35”

3 blooms


8 toms

Corn 1” 13” 50” !!! 57” 69”
Eggplant 6-¾” 7.5” 1 Purple


3 flowers 5 flowers

“My corn is HUUUGE!”–Jude

MORRIS June 4 June 11 *June 26 July 4 *July 17
Tomato 9” 15” (1’3”) 34” (1’10” 42” 49”

15 toms

“I love my cabbage.”–Morris

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

One morning, I noticed some nibbling on my tomato plant. It looked as if a deer had wandered a little closer to our home and had an early morning snack. But he obviously didn’t stay long because for his size, he just ate the ends of about seven shoots and a few tiny tomatoes. Hmmm. Maybe he’d been scared off by a hissing cat or noticed lights coming on in the house in the morning.


Later that afternoon, I visited the garden again, and I wondered if more had been nibbled…Had I been less observant in the morning? Upon closer inspection, I found a critter I now consider to be both fascinating and frightening. Hanging upside down on a tomato branch, perfectly camouflaged and munching away, was a GIANT caterpillar.

I ran into the house and called out the boys. There was shock. There was fascination. There was the inevitable pulling the critter off because it had to be held. This guy was no shorter than five inches long, and it was about as thick as a nickel is wide. And, it had horns. Rex found a miniature one near it and removed it as well.


We didn’t know what these were at first, but we knew we didn’t want them around. Rex chucked both far into the yard. (Someone told me later we should have chopped it up into a million pieces or squashed it. My boys would have liked that, but it was awfully big, and therefore, lots of guts. Plus, it was kinda cool.)

Upon quick research, we found out we’d come upon two tomato hornworms, the caterpillar of the five-spotted hawk moth. Youtube videos revealed that these suckers can devour a tomato plant in about two days.


Now, we are on patrol, carefully watching for any questionable nibbling. If more are found, I’m all for dissecting it, or whatever the boys want to do. And, I’ve also purchased some much-needed, human-safe insecticide.

Counting Beans

Today Jude and Morris harvested peas and green beans! Morris collected peas from his garden and mine: 9 gathered, many munched. Jude collected over thirty green beans, and countless were eaten before being counted.

IMG_0534Then, Morris sat next to his dad and counted the beans into groups of ten. He proudly made three piles.

We divided them up for supper! Fresh and delicious.

Worm Fest

The boys know worms are healthy for a garden. According to the website, worms do the following:

  • Earthworms burrow through the soil creating space for air to reach plant roots.
  • Earthworms create tunnels that allow rain and irrigation water to penetrate the soil.
  • Earthworms break up hardpan—dense soil that is inhospitable to plant roots. Earthworms can burrow to as deep as 6 feet in the soil.
  • Earthworms leave behind excrement or castings containing from 5 to 11 times the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium they have ingested.


So, today when I was digging holes in the yard to plant some lilies, I yelled inside the house and told the boys to come out and search the clumps for worms for their gardens. Jude sprinted to the door with a panicked excitement on his face; I think he was afraid they’d slither away and he LOVES worms.

As I unearthed, the boys collected and tossed the wigglers into their gardens. Jude collected over 20, and Rex collected over 10. Morris grabbed what he could.




Thought I’d conduct a few interviews from the boys to hear what they’re thinking about gardening.

REX, Age 9IMG_0468

1.What is your favorite plant in your garden and why?

Peppermint because it grows awesomely and harvesting is once every week.

2. What do you like about having a garden?

Everything. I don’t have a favorite. Maybe when my peppermint started bursting.

3. What is your least favorite part of gardening?

The caterpillars. They eat my brother’s cabbage.

4. What have you learned about plants or your garden that you didn’t know before?

That there was such a thing as a peppermint plant.

5. What is your favorite veggie to eat?

The pea pods.


IMG_0531JUDE, Age 7

1.What is your favorite plant in your garden and why?

Probably my corn. It’s the tallest of them all and it’s growing so well.

2.What do you like about having a garden?

I like to get the worms and put them in the garden. I also like seeing my cucumber plant grow and I can’t wait to get a big cucumber. –Whoa! Look at this cucumber! He’s lost his bud. Cucumbers can really be sneaky. You may think it’s too early for them to be grown and then there’s this HUGE one at the bottom.

3.What is your least favorite part of gardening?

The weeds. I don’t like weeds. I like almost anything about gardening.

4.What have you learned about plants or your garden that you didn’t know before?

About that big, giant, tomato-biting caterpillar. He was a big, fat thief, stealing our food when he didn’t ask. That’s a thief.

5.What is your favorite veggie to eat?

Cucumbers. Potatoes actually. Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, actually.


MORRIS, Age 4IMG_0266

1.What is your favorite plant in your garden and why?

The cabbage because I like it. It’s yummy.

2.What do you like about having a garden?

You eat a lot of stuff.

3.What is your least favorite part of gardening?

It’s not fun watering it.

4.What have you learned about plants or your garden that you didn’t know before?

Worms grow with water. They do, don’t they, Mom?

5.What is your favorite veggie to eat?


The First Cucumber

Every time we leave for the weekend, we return and find the garden has a surprise or two for us. Earlier in the summer, we found our bean seeds had sprouted and peeked out of the dirt. Later, yellow buds opened on the tomato plants. Sometimes we’ve been surprised by how much taller a plant has grown or where it’s spread.


Today, upon our return from Okoboji, Rex found a full-size cucumber hiding under the shade of the plant’s leaves: the first of the season! It was about 7 inches long and ready to be eaten for supper. When we left on Friday, the cucumbers were only about an inch long, and many of them still had the yellow flower on the tip. Still babies. But today – Sunday – we found a full grown treat!

It was the perfect veggie to nibble on with our pizza Sunday night.