Leaf Time

Ty and Jude did some bonding this past Saturday. We have a lot of beautiful walnut trees shedding their golden leaves. Tyler likes to mow the yard, strategically blowing the leaves into the center of a circle. Then, he called out Jude to help him – who didn’t complain – and they raked away. Jude enjoyed commanding the wheelbarrow, moving it from the pile, up the hill, and dumping the leaves behind some trees. He appreciated the time alone with dad, with no brothers throwing piles of leaves at him or taking turns with the wheelbarrow. This was his time.



Dirt Clump Clubs, AKA Dead Plants

What do boys do when they pull out the dead plants from their gardens? The boys notice that the corn stalks, egg plants, and tomato plants are shaped like a club, with a ball of roots and dirt on one end of a thin, dried stalk. Excellent! And so begins a battle with veggie clubs and whips made of dried green bean vines. They know better than to actually nail each other with these organic weapons; they are very good at acting out their attacks.


Jude attacks with the club; Morris whips with green bean stalks.

However, this made the time dedicated to tearing down our gardens this weekend much more distracted and much less sentimental than I imagined. I remembered Rex saying how sad he’d be when the gardens were over, how lonely the beds would look when all the plants were pulled out. There was none of that today. Boys yanked out plants quickly and moved on to play. I’d call them back to pull out this or that, they’d return, and then go back to battle.

That’s probably a good thing… Part of me wanted to be a little sad about the end of the growing season, but boys are creatures of action, and they know we’re going to do this all again next year. So I’m not sad either.

Matter of fact, I have plans for My Growing Boys for the fall and winter!

In the fall, we’ve got pumpkins and leaves and baking. In the winter, we’ve got some green gifts in mind, along with some frozen chili reds and jalapenos to make jelly. I’d like to start composting (still researching…), and I want the boys to start some of their own flowers and vegetable plants for their gardens next summer.

There are more adventures to come!…but 2016 posts are dwindling. The activity will pick up again in 2017 when it’s time for the growing season. My Growing Boys are excited for another year of gardening adventures!

End-of-the-Season Interviews

Mom’s Reflection

The gardens provided more than I originally imagined. I wanted my boys to learn about plants, to observe how the leaves of a tomato plant are different from the leaves of a bean plant. I was impressed when my boys would show others their gardens, pointing to each plant by name.  I hoped they would take the responsibility of a garden seriously by regularly watering and weeding their plot, and they did. And, I wanted them to feel proud of what they harvested, to enjoy eating the vegetables they grew, all on their own. All of this came true.

But we got a lot more out of this project than those initial goals. The boys measured and counted and took inventory of what they grew. They became aware of the signs of pests – holes in our cabbage and nibbled sections of the tomato plants – and learned how to protect their gardens. They became a lot more observant than I originally thought; they noticed what bloomed, what baby vegetables grew, and what was not growing. And, they cooked and chopped in the kitchen and took ownership of their produce at our table. And there’s more!… All in all, it was a success, and we’ll do it again!

Here’s what the boys had to say:


Rex, Age 9

1.What was your favorite part of having a garden this season?

  I learned a lot watching everything grow. My favorite was my peppermint because peppermint

is awesome.

2.What was your least favorite part of taking care of a garden?

  Finding those stupid hornworms…cuz they’re dumb.

3.What is something you learned about gardening?

  How much stuff can grow from seeds. For example, carrots. And to kill all the pests when I see holes in the plants.

4.What is something that surprised you?

  How fat those hornworms can be, and how much they can eat.

5.What will you not plant next year?

  My potatoes; they were un-grown.

6.What do you want to plant next year?

  Peppermint, tomato, chives, cucumber…

Jude, Age 7

1.What was your favorite part of having a garden this season?

  Watching it grow and the corn.

2.What was your least favorite part of taking care of a garden?

  The potatoes didn’t grow.

3.What is something you learned about gardening?

  I learned that worms help the plants by making holes in the dirt.

4.What is something that surprised you?

  That my potatoes didn’t grow. I was going to eat them and love them. I was going to make those potatoes you make me for breakfast.

5.What will you not plant next year?

 I don’t want to grow sage; we haven’t used it.

6.What do you want to plant next year?

 Corn and potatoes. And tomatoes and chives.

Morris, Age 4

1.What was your favorite part of having a garden this season?

  That you get to grow worms and you get to get a plant.

2.What was your least favorite part of taking care of a garden?

  That the cabbage was ripped up.

3.What is something you learned about gardening?

  That worms go far, far, far, far, far into the ground.

4.What is something that surprised you?

  That some of my green beans were rotten.

5.What will you not plant next year?   Spinach.

6.What do you want to plant next year?

  Cauliflower. Peppermint: I love it so much and then I spit it out.

Fall Harvest

With the start of school and soccer, the gardens have been a little neglected… The boys don’t wander around their plots much these days, mostly because many plants are done producing: the cucumbers and green beans.

There are still some pleasant surprises, though.

Rex found carrots! He’d pulled a few in early September and was pretty disappointed, but when we pulled on the greens this week, we found some decently sized ones…as far as baby carrots go. There’s such a difference in taste between the garden grown and the bagged babies.

We’re still getting tomatoes! The stalks are brown and wilting, but the fall has been warm, and the sun has been friendly. Every week, we enjoy tomatoes in our salads, or I include them in our Sunday night veggie soup.

The boys had a visitor, too! Look at this praying mantis! We had never seen a brown and green one before. We were really hoping we’d see one of these earlier as they are excellent pest eaters.


It turned its head to pose for the pic…a little creepy.

The boys have not pulled out the dead or dying plants yet. I don’t think we’re quite ready, but the time is getting closer.