Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Backyard Gardening

Backyard bounty

Using permaculture philosophies we are healing the soil. We used chicken manure and compost to fertilize.

Our garden began with two tomato plants in 15 gallon pots and a naval orange tree. Once established, the tomato plants in pots would become infested with tomato worms. We used many types of methods to rid the plants from worms. They were minimally effective. At the end of our work day, we would manually pull the worms off our plants. Finally, in frustration, we turned the hose on them and sprayed them off our plants. It literally rained worms. We did have amazing tomatoes, in fact, too many tomatoes. Each vine grew very tall to the top of its cage and beyond; producing hundreds of tomatoes. Over time, the raccoons destroyed our lawn in our backyard. In frustration, we tore the whole thing out and planted raised beds. We began composting, planted more trees, had backyard chickens, and the gardening adventure developed. We were known as “farmers” by our friends and neighbors. We learned about permaculture and “Back to Eden” gardening methods. We brought in wood chips, top soil, organic mulch, and used our own compost. We really did begin having our own “garden of Eden”. The birds come every day and eat the worms off our plants. They do not eat our fruit, the raccoons, opossums, and skunks do. There are a variety of insects and the whole yard smells great and is green all year. It smells earthy. The soil has changed over time- from black adobe clay to a spongy airy type. We began with raised beds, but pulled most out since our soil has changed. We have learned to grow certain foods in the micro climates of our yard. We tried crop rotation, but that did not work. There are certain plants that enjoy growing in particular locations of our yard. We perk up the soil every year when we begin our spring planting. We sprout seeds in the spring and fall according to what grows in those seasons. We enjoy tomatoes year round in the right location of our yard. We save seeds as much as possible and like to buy from Seed Savers and heirloom organic varieties. We have a small milkweed patch for the monarch butterflies. Lizards eat the insects too. We use companion gardening methods and have found onion and garlic work well to keep pests and critters out of beds. Our neighbors enjoy hanging out on their balcony and watching the life in our living garden.  The food we grow tastes much better and makes the work worth it.

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What to Teach for Home School Science

Many parents ask me what to teach for home school science.  Well, the possibilities are really endless.  You are surrounded by science since all of creation is observable “Science”.  At an early age, plant seeds and study the life cycle of living organisms like butterflies, bees, insects, plants, animals like chickens, etc.  Plant seeds in pots or in a garden.  Document the entire cycle in pictures/and or writing.  If you are allowed to have chickens (I cannot see why not since chickens are very “green”, but this is another subject) hatch chicks and raise chickens.  If lifestyle does not permit this, visit a farm and draw pictures about the process.  At the farm, milk a cow or watch a cow being milked.  Make butter.  Plant milkweed or consider purchasing a butterfly hatching kit.  Visit an aquarium.  Visit an aeronautical museum.  Go to a used bookstore and buy used science books.  Visit the library and check out books about the solar system or watch You Tube videos about the solar system, human body systems like circulatory, nervous, respiratory, etc.  Build a robot.  Go rock digging at a specified site or visit a geologic museum.  Take a fishing trip.  Visit tide pools if you are able.  Check out Scholastic and buy science kits:  https://store.scholastic.com/search/search/Science?N=4502~4518

Consider edible science:

https://shop.nationalgeographic.com/product/books/kids-books/science-and-space/edible-science  Visit a craft store and paint a volcano onto a wooden canvas, make a collage, etc.  You may want to consider buying a microscope kit, etc.    These are a few considerations for you and your family as you enjoy the process of teaching science at home.

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We want our snacks!

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Our first female Monarch butterfly just hatched!

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A Lesson About the Role of Government

In 2008 and 2012 our family campaigned for Ron Paul’s presidential runs.  People would ask us about our stickers on our cars, “Who is Ron Paul?”  Everywhere we went people were curious about this man.  My students, after learning about “peace, prosperity, and liberty” would state that they would vote for the man if they could.  Sadly, our own orthodox Presbyterian church outright rejected his philosophy and voted for the mainstream conservative candidate.  Ron Paul is an American hero.  He believes the role of the U.S. government is to protect liberty, politicians should have integrity instead of power corruption, and promotes reason in our foreign policy.  Personally, our family studied what are just wars as taught by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen.  We learned a lot about peace and prosperity, as well as, the incredible cost of war, not only monetarily, but in human life.  As Dr. Paul consistently states, that “wise consistency” is needed in our foreign policy and “justness” in our interventions.  You will be educated in peace, liberty, and prosperity after watching this 45 minute video.


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Gardening for Education

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Teach Science at an Early Age: Periodic Table

Begin with a periodic table place mat.  While eating a meal, the learner may enjoy investigating the different colors on the table, the numbers, symbols, and weights.  We purchased these books to support what was taught on the table.



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One Reason We Grow Our Food

At a recent get-together we harvested fresh rhubarb and used store bought organic strawberries to make a strawberry rhubarb custard pie.  It was absolutely delicious because the rhubarb was picked the same day as we made the pie.  Our soil is healthy and alive as observed from our happy and healthy plant.  This was the recipe we used:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223069/strawberry-rhubarb-custard-pie/


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An Alarm Call to Parents: SB 18

California has beautiful weather, amazing ocean seascapes and majestic mountains, and offers a fairly comfortable lifestyle.  This “comfort” enables people to become complacent in all levels of society.  They enjoy the “ease” of life.  While enjoying this ease, they do not pay attention to rulers who busily plan out an agenda for their lives.  Senator Dr. Pan is a ruler who has plans for you and your family.  He has already successfully removed parents’ rights to say “no” to government mandated vaccines by removing personal beliefs/religious exemptions for those desiring a public or private education for their children.  The “lion”, Dr. Pan, has continued his prowling around seeking to devour more freedom for families in California.  Based on Dr. Pan’s actions, we believe that he desires to have vaccinations administered from conception to the grave.  SB 18 (Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in California), at this point has been written vaguely and threatens parental authority, health freedom, home education, and the right to self defense.  Currently in California, the Constitution states that parents have the “fundamental legal right” to choose how to educate and raise their children.  SB 18 would change this by creating a “children’s rights” law.  This transfers the power from the family to the state.  The state would now decide what is “appropriate, quality health care”, “appropriate quality education”, and define what is best for the “social and emotional well-being” of your children.  Families would no longer be safe from state intrusion in their homes because who defines what is “appropriate”?  The Creator has given states, families, people, and churches standards to live by and boundaries to abide by.  When boundaries are over-run, liberty is lost.  Senator Pan desires to over extend his governmental reach into the God-given boundary of the family.  Parents in California be aware that your liberties are at risk with SB 18 written as it is today.

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.   All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:  You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.  The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.   Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.”  (Deuteronomy 28:1-5)     







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