Buckets of Veggies and Fresh Farm Salsa

Today we were a little worried about the weather at camp.  Forecast called for a 30-40% chance of rain while we were there, but luckily we only got a few sprinkles.  We started our day with extended free exploration time.  The kids LOVE making mud pits, and then we went on a dig for all the buried plastic bugs and dinosaurs.  We’re still missing the giant T-Rex though… not sure where he ran off to!

We spent a lot of time in the garden because there were so many veggies to harvest and many farm friends and foes were discovered!  We found two friendly toads, as well as this beautiful (but harmful) caterpillar.  A tomato hornworm!

 

We didn’t put the hornworm in the bath of doom because it was too beautiful so we are keeping it as a pet 😉 During our harvest we picked tomatoes, green bell peppers, Hungarian hot peppers, and cucumbers.  We literally had a bucket of veggies, so every camper got to take home one bell pepper, one cucumber, two hot peppers, and several cherry tomatoes.

 

Afterwards we scouted around to see what else we had growing in the garden.  We checked on the progress of our giant pumpkin plants, and we’ve got one that’s getting pretty big!  Check it out, with a campers hand in the photo for size comparison.  If we are *really* lucky we might grow one that’s almost a hundred pounds!

 

Afterwards we made today’s farm snack, fresh veggie salsa.  All of the ingredients were things from the garden or the farm.  We included: slicing and cherry tomatoes, a bell pepper, a red onion, and some garlic.  Some of the campers weren’t huge fans of the salsa, but most loved it and asked for more!  Tomorrow we will continue with our farm snack theme by tasting our special Tigger melons and making a Shrek smoothie!

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The Taste of the Harvest

Yesterday at camp we had many discoveries, delicious snacks, and “hiking” adventures.

We continued with our bean/seed crafts and added in some tree cookie decorating.  We figured we could also decorate the tree cookies with beans and seeds, and then added sand, leaves, and birdseed.  Parents, I apologize if your kids brought home half a dozen tree cookies, but they loved it!

In the garden we continued with some watering and harvesting.  We also realized that one of the giant pumpkins was REALLY dying.  I decided we should pull it out and dissect it because I had an inkling of what the problem might be.  Lo and behold when we dissected the stem we found the culprit… a squash vine borer!

This little worm can kill an entire plant by boring into the stem and stopping the plant from taking in water and nutrients.  Needless to say, we put him in the bath of doom!  There’s a “surgery” you can do to squash plants to remove the borer and patch it up to hopefully continue growing, but since we still had three other giant pumpkin vines we decided the sacrifice of one was OK.

For snack we were super lucky.  Our junior camp counselor Anna happens to have a Mom who has a bakery!  We gave her the giant zucchinis harvested earlier in the week and she turned them into delicious zucchini bread with orange marmalade for everyone (including the farmers!)  The kids loved it!

You can check out photos of the giant zucchini and see more of her baked deliciousness on her Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/AdriennesArtisanBakery

After our yummy snack we went for a little hike around the farm to do some exploring.  We chased butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers and also learned about Queen Anne’s Lace, milkweed pods, and weeping willow trees.  How cute is this “milk”weed mustache??

Planting, picking, and snacking

Yesterday was a very active day of camp.  During free exploration time some of the kids started a craft with beans (seeds) that we expanded upon today.  More on that later.

 

While working on the craft we wondered if the beans we were using would grow, since we bought them from the grocery store as food and not as seeds.  So what does a good Nature Ranger do?  We experiment to find out!  We planted each bean type in a pot and are waiting to see the results.  If they don’t happen until next week I’ll be sure to take pictures and post them.

Next it was on to garden time, where we did a lot of watering (our weather chart showed no rain recently), then we did some harvesting (more tomatoes every day!) and finally we prepared a bed for planting.  We planted eight broccoli plants so each kid got to plant “their own”.  Here we are loosening the soil to get it ready for planting.

 

Then we made a garden snack:  Beet and apple salad.  It’s very easy… peel and shred three beets and three apples, and then add some lemon juice and sugar to taste.  I warned the kids that if they ate a lot of the salad they would pee pink.  And of course, that got most of them to eat all of it 🙂

We finished up the day sifting compost, looking for worms, and digging.  All in all it was a fun and delicious day!

The Last Week of Camp

I can’t believe it’s the last week of summer camp.  This summer has absolutely FLOWN by, way faster than last year.  The theme of this week is probably going to turn out to be “Harvest and Eat” since there are so many things available in the garden now.  Today we harvested the first beets (finally!!) kohlrabi, tomatoes, and HUGE zucchini.  The kids took home a beet and a large tomato each, as well as a handful of cherry tomatoes.  Tomorrow I am bringing the ingredients to make a beet and apple salad.  They should love it and I’ll send the recipe home with them as well.

Today we focused on seeds, reading the book “The Reason for a Flower” (is to manufacture seeds) as well as going on a seed hunt and doing a vegetable seed match.  Tomorrow I think we will plant some lettuce seeds as a follow up and have an optional seed craft during free exploration time.  (If anyone has some bird seed they can send with the kids that would be great as well!)

At the end of camp the kids found a newly emerged cicada.  We have found tons of cicada molts the past two weeks and it’s really exciting to see and hear them around the garden!

Nature Olympics wrap-up

Last week on Thursday the kids had two nature challenges.  The first was a kale/kohlrabi washing and packing challenge and then at the end of the day we had a litter clean-up challenge.  The team with the most litter was able to pick out a large tomato or pepper to take home as their prize.  Together the teams ended up collecting two-gallon bags of litter in less than 15 minutes!

Friday we had more of a traditional camp olympics day complete with water games and tie-dye shirt pictures.  Here is a gallery of the week’s best photos.

Weedin’ Wednesday

Today’s camp was very busy.  During free exploration time the kids could do an optional “tree cookie” craft, but it turned out that by the end most were digging in the dirt.  Here’s the scene:

It seems kids have a fascination with flooding things.  From what I overheard, there was a shallow end and a deep end, and several bug or dinosaur lifeguards.  At one point one of the lifeguards quit and was floating down the lazy river.  Ah, the imagination of children!

From free exploration we moved to our morning meeting and charting the weather.  We noticed today that every time we have taken the temperature this week it was always 80 degrees…  Pretty consistent, Mother Nature!  Then we headed out in the garden to care for our adopted beds.  Nicole the Northern Cardinal suggested yesterday that today be “Weeding Wednesday” so that’s what we went with.  We did a little tour of different weeds, both edible and not, and then went out to attack!  At the end of garden time we harvested some extremely long green beans as well as some Hungarian hot peppers.  Parents if you’re reading this, eat with caution! 🙂

We also worked on sifting compost and finding creatures for today’s Nature Olympics challenge “Roly Poly Races”.  We also used worms, millipedes, and whatever other bugs we could find.  The winner of the race is whoever’s bug makes it out of the circle first.  It was most kids favorite thing today and I’m sure it will be repeated during free exploration time tomorrow!

Tie-dye Fun!

Yesterday at camp we had a lot of fun.  Free exploration time was spent watering and weeding and digging and playing.  We had our morning meeting and headed off to the weather station.  Even though we knew it had rained the night before, there was very little rain in our rain gauge.  Had the rain not really hit the farm? Had it started evaporating before we got there?  We’re not entirely sure!

In the garden each child adopted a bed… or two… but by the end most kids were working in teams. For their adopted bed they were charged with taking care of it for the week:  Watering, weeding, and looking out for bugs or signs of distress.   For “Nature Olympics” challenge we split into two groups and each group had ten minutes to capture the most “bad” bugs (squash bugs and Japanese beetles) in their “Baths of Doom”.  The teams ended up tied with two bugs each.  There have been far less bugs this year than last year, including mosquitos (which is good for us!)

While in the garden we harvested some beautiful squash and tomatoes.  I sent the tomatoes home with the kids but since there weren’t enough squash for everyone those are staying on the farm for now.

 

After garden time we headed back in for snack, and then went on to our big project for the day… Tie-dye T-shirts!  We made them in a slightly less traditional (and also less messy) method using Sharpie pens and rubbing alcohol.  We colored circles or other shapes and lines and then dropped alcohol in the middle of the drawing.  As the alcohol spread out, it dragged the marker with it, making beautiful circles and shapes.  Overall it was very fun and something we would make again!