Saturday, April 18, 2015

April Garden Plans

March didn't feel much like spring in this part of the country - but April has given us spring sunshine. I find it hard to stay indoors on a sunny day in April and it has been rather easy for my children to twist my arm and ask for a little time outdoors before they started their math.

Every spring, I think of the pioneer families who, before the days of super markets, glass canning jars, and freezers, subsisted on the wrinkled root crops from the cellar and stored grain during the winter. I can imagine the joy in finding that first spear of asparagus or dandelion greens and know that my family has survived another winter.

Today we can buy fresh lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes all year long—but there is still something special about the herald of spring and the promise of food from my own garden. I love to see the new green shoots, like this rhubarb plant, poke out of the soil.

I know that we are already halfway through April. But I was spending my time outside enjoying April instead of writing about it. I have accomplished many of my April goals, as well as all the things from my March list that I had not completed earlier.

These are the tasks on my April Gardening List for my zone 6 garden.

1. Clean up the perennial beds and top-dress with compost and lime.

Ed mulched my flower beds with chopped leaves in the fall but there is a few weeds that managed to squeeze in anyway. I'd like to put some more mulch down and hopefully have no more weeding this summer. Last year my flower beds were totally neglected. We'll just say it was the baby's fault.

2. Divide any crowded perennials and prune the roses that I missed last fall.

3. Plant beets, carrots, onions, sugar peas, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes in the garden.

Often we are the last to get our garden planted since it is located in a low area and often stays wet for a long time in the spring. But this spring has been dry, too dry, and we were able to get all of the early spring things planted in the first week of April.

4. Set out broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants in the garden and cover with rowcover.

For now, I have the plants covered with milk jugs. I cut the bottom out of the jug and push it into the soil and have a mini green house. When it gets warmer and the cabbage butterflies appear, I will remove the milk jugs and cover with row cover.

5. Uncover the strawberry plants from their winter mulch of straw and plant a new row of strawberries to replace the row that is being smothered in Canadian thistles.

6. Relish fresh asparagus and the first spring salad.

What are you doing in your garden this month?

And if you are from Georgia or southern California and relishing freshly picked strawberries—I don't want to know.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Picture Books on Flight

One hundred and forty-eight years ago, on April 16, 1867, a baby boy was born who would make his mark history. Wilbur Wright, along with his brother Orville, invented the first successful airplane and realized man's dream of flying. The beginning of air travel includes amazing stories of creativity and courage. 

While there are many books that tell the stories of these events, I searched for some of the best illustrated picture books at our library. These books were designed for elementary students (grades 2-5) but I enjoyed them as much as my children.

Wilbur and Orville Wright had a younger sister, and this book tells the story of the famous inventors from her perspective. While she may never be as famous as her brothers, this story gives credit to the quiet woman who supported her brothers. Superb illustrations add realism to the story.

Will and Orv by Walter A. Schulz

The Wright's first successful flight told through the eyes of a young boy from Kitty Hawk who witnessed the event. Based on the historic record of the December 1903 event.

The muted paintings by the Provensens fit perfectly with the story of French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot. After many failures, Bleriot succeeded in being the first person to fly across the English Channel. This is a story of someone who is determined and learned from his mistakes.

Flight by Robert Burleigh

Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic is told in short sentences that show the drama of the event. But the real thrill of this book is the stunning illustrations.

Night Flight by Robert Burleigh

A new retelling of Amelia Earhart's solo flight across the Atlanic is told with vivid words and paintings. The many dangers and problems Earhart encounters lend suspense to the story.

The Hindenburg by Patrick O'Brien

The lovely airships (also known as zeppelins) were actually invented before the airplanes and at one time were considered the best way to travel across the ocean. That all ended in 1937 with the tragic explosion of the Hindenburg, the largest and fastest airship ever made. The history of the airships, detailed drawings, and lovely artwork are included with this story of Hugo Eckener and his amazing airship.

I doubt the Wright brothers ever imagined that their innovations in flight would one day enable man to travel as far as the moon. This excellent book tells the story of the historic journey of Apollo 11. The poetic text combines with amazing watercolors to replay the incredible event. Don't miss this one.


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