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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.

Wednesday, August 15 2012 11:06

Two Cool New Gardening Products from Step2...

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The folks over at Step2 just updated their site with New items for the fall, and two new items caught my eye for gardening purposes: the 40-Gallon Rain Barrel and the Garden Cart and Dolly.

Monday, July 30 2012 17:28

Rock Father Garden Update: July Harvest

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It's still hot outside. Not as bad as when I posted my last update from The Rock Father Garden, but it's still hitting 90 on a daily basis... and it's still dry. We've finally had some rain, but it's been in monsoon quantities for some very short periods of time. Too much, too fast - not right to make a dent in the incredibly dry earth - cracks in which can be seen running through our once green backyard. Sure, the green is returning, but man is that lawn scorched. We've kept the veggie garden watered, though it's still been tough.

It's hot outside. In fact, it's 96 as I type this, and the little one is having some time with Mommy and new baby sister as I work. We came back in from some watering a little while ago, so I figured it was time for an update on The Rock Father Garden. It's been a war out there, folks. We've had casualties. We've also had some wins.

Last Fall, one of the most popular posts on the Mach 1 version of The Rock Father (since reposted here) was a Garden Project transforming two antique washtubs that belonged to the little one's Great Grandparents. For the summer of 2012, those washtubs have kept their position as planters, but with a different flowering assortment. Here's a look at what we did on planting day, May 14th, and a look at what they look like on June 10.

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