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It's no secret that Fall is my favorite season. Chalk it up to being an "October Baby" myself (at least, that's how I've always justified it), but it seems that everything just feels right in the Fall. Unfortunately, Fall also feels like the most condensed of the seasons - like you have September/October and it's done, even though it technically goes until December. As soon as the ghosts and ghouls vanish back into their crypts on the morning of November 1, that typically signals the beginning of the "Holiday Season" for me, and thoughts of winter soon emerge... and being in Northern Illinois, a November snowfall is not uncommon. I always feel as if I'm trying to cram as much Autumn goodness as I can into Sept/October, and one annual ritual is the changeover from Summer Flowers to Fall Mums.

It seems that every couple of years there's some new invasive pest hitting the area in which Rock Father HQ is situated. There's been quite a bit of buzz about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug arriving in Illinois (an "UNWANTED" Poster was even issued), and though they haven't been confirmed here in Lake County (yet), The University of Illinois Extension issued an update back in May that confirmed their presence in several counties, including Cook. While The Land of Lincoln may not be under full-blown invasion, I know a lot of readers elsewhere in the country are under attack, and with the cool, Fall weather upon us and word of a massive outbreak in Sacramento, it's time to start guarding homes to keep these stinkers out.  

nationalplantDid you know that it's National Indoor Plant Week? In celebration of the movement for cleaner, fresher indoor air in homes, schools, and on the job (September 15-21, 2013) - The Rock Father and Costa Farms have teamed up for a very special O2 For You: Houseplants with a Purpose Giveaway! Just moments after dropping off my oldest at Pre-K this morning, FedEx arrived here at Rock Father HQ with an assortment of houseplants... and one lucky reader will receive a similar assortment later this week! Read on for details...

Saturday, August 17 2013 12:29

Gardening with Kids: Mountain Dew Sunflowers...

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We do a lot of fun little projects here at Rock Father HQ, and most of you know that if it involves gardening, it's usually one of my favorites. This year, I decided to do something we've never attempted before... growing "baby" sunflowers in classic, glass pop bottles. Now, I could've easily called this project "Soda Pop Sunflowers" or "Pop Bottle Sunflowers," but I'm giving it a brand-name: "Mountain Dew Sunflowers." No, this post is not sponsored or endorsed by PepsiCo (the makers of Mountain Dew), but I'm a Dew loyalist - specifically that tasty Diet Mountain Dew that I drink a lot of. But it was regular Mountain Dew that I found in glass 4-packs, and those became our planters. Here's the story of our two-month journey...

Saturday, August 10 2013 03:00

Gardening: Learning to Compost... Just like CAILLOU

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Earlier this week, my little Addie turned four... "just like Caillou," she says. Being the same age as her television and literary hero places her firmly within the same range of curiosity as well, and that's fascinating for me to witness as a parent. When PBS KIDS started running the "new-ish" episodes of CAILLOU this past Spring, one episode really stood out for us... "Caillou Helps Out." In this episode, the lead segment, "Caillou Can Compost," focuses on a day spent with Grandma learning how composting works like a magic trick, transforming garden waste into rich soil that is a welcome addition to any garden. For Addie, it was an greater exploration of something we do right here at home.

Gardening is a part of our daily routine here at Rock Father HQ. While we've got a lot of basic maintenance-type stuff to do, we occasionally fall into an oddball project, and last month we had one. The removal of The Bush of Doom... and the rebirth of the area from which it came.

Just North of Chicago, right on the line of where Cook and Lake Counties meet, lies the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. It's often referred to as "A Treasure of the Cook County Forest Preserve," and for good reason - it's 385 of the most beautiful acres that you'll find anywhere. Despite living near it, and driving by it countless times over the past few years, we recently made our first family trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a full day of adventure as guests of the Garden.  

Nearly 14 months have passed since I last mentioned him on The Rock Father, but as of today... our little friend from Tatooine has returned to the Garden here at Rock Father HQ.  The Ceremonial Placement of the Garden JAWA has once again taken place, kicking off the "official" official start of the 2013 Gardening Season for us,  later than last year (which had record heat) as we're still going hot/cold here in Northern Illinois. Our little scavenger is ready to rock and roll, with his garden tools tucked firmly into his bandolier strap, and his hose ready to soak the earth. Even better? Not once has he tried to sell me a stolen droid. "Utini!"

I'm prepping some cool content for the Gardening Blog here on The Rock Father (if the weather would actually stay warm for more than a day), and while I'm still getting things together, the folks at PBS Digital Studios have a new installment of the It's Okay To Be Smart series that fits in well with the gardening theme. It's no secret that bees are a swarm of garden helpers, but have you ever wondered how they know what to do... or which flowers to approach? Well, there's something electrical involved, and somehow Dr. Joe Hanson manages to bring HE-MAN into the mix. I'm not joking... MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE in a science video to share with your kids. Seriously, just watch "Electric Buzzaloo" below:

With Spring finally here (hopefully to stay), we're gearing up for our 2013 Gardening Season here at Rock Father HQ. If you're a newer reader, you might've missed the garden adventures from the past two years, so let me put this simply: Gardening Rocks! There's nothing better than teaching the little ones how to grow their own food and pretty plants, and it's something I'm big on here at home. Returning from 2012, GROWUMS are a line of educational growing kits that feature characters like Ice Berg the Lettuce Rapper, Frank Cilantro and Elvis Parsley to help teach kids the ways of the gardening Force. For 2013, they could use a little bit of a boost.

There's over a foot of snow on the ground here at Rock Father HQ right now, yet here we are with the first post on The Rock Father Gardening Blog for 2013. Oh, how I've missed gardening... and it's been five months since this section received an update. I didn't get to blog about Gardening as much as I wanted to last year, since having a newborn (June) was the obvious focus. This year, I'll be able to have both girls in the Garden with me, and as we're thinking spring, so are the folks at Home Depot and The Scotts Company, who are launching a bi-weekly webseries called GARDENIERES. 

Sunday, September 09 2012 21:01

Fall Fun: Growing Pumpkin on a Stick (Part 1)

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It's been a weird year for gardening, and with Fall finally upon us, I wish we had a bit more to harvest. One of our apparent successes this year is technically still a work-in-progress, but I wanted to highlight it here on The Rock Father Gardening Blog: Pumpkin on a Stick. For the past two seasons, Addie and I have purchased a variety of "fun" seed packets from a local greenhouse (which sadly closed this past July after around 30 years of business), mostly gourds and a few other oddities from a company called Livingston Seed.

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