Author Archive

Fertilizing the Garden with the 4R’s of Nutrient Management

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
The garden looks green and healthy. I spent the last hour pulling weeds! Boy, do they grow fast! The carrots are thinner than I want and my green bean stand is weak as well. I will plant a few more rows of green beans to make up for what didn’t germinate earlier this spring. I have spent hours planting, watering, tilling, hoeing, weeding and now it’s time to fertilize! (more…)

Getting Started in the Garden

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
I finally got to my happy place, the garden! I have been dealing with a bit of garden guilt! The seed packets, transplants, fertilizer and hoe have been sitting at the garage door calling me to be planted and used. It felt great to dig, plant, and water. The garden is only half way planted but I am completely satisfied today! All three of my girls helped plant. We planted sweetcorn and potatoes for the oldest, sunflowers for the middle daughter and for the youngest, carrots and green beans. Over the years, they have their favorites. (more…)

5 Fun Activities to Celebrate Earth Day!

Monday, April 18th, 2016
Dig into the Earth on Earth day. Less than 3% of the entire Earth’s surface is ideal for growing our food.  So why not, dig in and experience it. Here are some fun ideas: (more…)

The Resources You Need To Start Your School Garden

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
  I believe every school should have a garden. Think back to your education, what do you remember? What teacher had an impact? I bet those memories are tied to an activity or teacher who brought innovation and experiential learning to the classroom.   What makes a school garden successful? Purpose, People and Passion   “Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.” -Lou Erickson   Purpose: The success of a school garden depends upon the fertility of the soil and the number of times the garden is used. The garden has to have purpose. The class has to have a reason to visit the garden, if not it sits idle, full of potential and completely untapped. Bring the class to the garden every day, even if just for a minute. A garden that is seen is a garden that thrives. Find curriculum that enhances the classroom academic standards. Use curriculum that gives you a reason to spend time in the garden; incorporate science, math, English, reading, nutrition and exercise into garden time. If the garden has purpose, it will be used and it will produce more than fruit; it will produce knowledge, understanding, application, and change.   People: It’s nearly impossible to build, maintain and grow a school garden by yourself. It takes a team of people. Create a committee; include staff, custodial team members, administration, parents and students. Communicate frequently, share a vision and move forward together.   Passion: A garden is living and it takes dedication to make it productive, especially in a school setting. Most school gardens begin when one or two individuals have a strong desire. Passion can dwindle as weeds grow, in addition to time and financial constraints. The passion to keep a garden growing must be continually fertilized with…

Making Connections at National FFA Convention

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
The 2015 National FFA Convention & Expo was held in Louisville, KY on October 28 – October 31, 2015.  A record breaking 64,409 FFA members and registered guests attended the annual meeting! We embrace this youth organization that puts emphasis on agricultural pursuits and exemplary leadership. During the expo, Nutrients for Life Foundation (NFLF) staff had direct communication with over 500 agricultural educators.  During this time we were able to build awareness of our curriculum, resources and the Helping Communities Grow program. New Auburn FFA members and Prairie Central FFA members helped NFLF staff work the booth and shared with attendees how the Helping Communities Grow program had impacted them, their career choices and the activities that their FFA chapter does to promote crop nutrient education. Rick, regional representative for California, Washington, and Idaho, surprised everyone on Halloween with this fantastic Phantom of the Opera costume! The opportunity to make connections with such a large group of FFA members and agricultural educators to forward our mission is invaluable to the Foundation.

Fall Lawn and Garden Update

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
Harvest here in Northwest Iowa will wrap up soon. Lush green fields have been replaced with brown stubble. I enjoy watching the combines roll over the fields and grain dust fill the air. I often pause and reflect that harvest, whether it in a field or a garden, is the result of hard work and yields food for all of us. Here are a few updates and tips for preparing your lawn and garden for spring. I am savoring these gorgeous fall days! Have you taken the time to rake up (I mean play in...) the leaves? Leaves provide organic matter to the soil. Mulching mowers break down the leaves and allow your yard to benefit from its organic matter. Leaves also can be added to the garden. As they breakdown they deposit organic matter into the soil. Fall is a great time to divide most perennials. Dividing in the fall gives plants time to set new roots before the summer heat. Before replanting, add compost to the soil. This will replenish nutrients that were lost and builds the soil fertility. I am ready to put the lawnmower away for winter. I complain about mowing, but I’ll be the first to admit, I love a green lush lawn. To ensure a green lawn next spring, I apply a winterizer fertilizer. Winter care for your lawn is a great habit to start and your local garden centers will have what you need. I have a few favorite perennials in the landscape. Each fall, I collect the seeds from my favorites and save the seed to spread in the spring. Daffodils and Tulips! I just don’t think I can ever plant too many. Our 4-H Clover Kids planted tulips and daffodils in the city park. We tucked the bulbs into the ground and said, “See you in…

Fall Lawn and Garden Checklist

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
There is a worn path in the grass that leads from the garden to the kitchen. After months of hard work, I am met with the excitement of enough vegetables to preserve; green beans to can, sweet corn to freeze, and cucumbers to pickle... you get the idea! (more…)

Do You Preserve Your Harvest?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
It's that time of the year! The time when your excess harvest can be put to great use by preserving it for the cooler months to come. Grandma’s Kook-Kwick Pressure Cooker manual was handed down to me. The manual is most likely from the 1950’s and tells me that a properly filled pantry is the result of careful planning in advance. (more…)

Garden Calendar: August Tips

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
It was a root and tuber kind of weekend; we pulled carrots and dug potatoes. The harvest makes me thankful for the hours of sweat I put into keeping the weeds out and the soil fertile. August finds me in the kitchen preserving produce from the garden. It makes for some long days but it is well worth it! (more…)

July Garden Update

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
It’s mid-July, how is your garden looking? Healthy, buggy, brown, yellow, weedy: these words describe different areas of my garden all while I am waiting, oh so patiently, for the tomatoes to turn red. While I wait, there are other veggies ready to be harvested! (more…)

Garden Calendar: July Tips

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
It’s July! The garden is starting to burst! July meals will be full of freshness and flavor. Right now I spend half my time harvesting and the other half pulling weeds. I hope your garden has more harvest than weeds! Here’s to a delicious July! (more…)