I know the main conversation topic this year has been COVID-19 and so far I have been swerving away from that topic because of several reasons.
It is controversial- Everyone has a strong opinion and wants it to be heard.
It is the most talked about subject right now and I occasionally want to hear about something else.
There is so much information and misinformation circulating that it is hard to differentiate fact from fiction.
School is one topic that includes COVID-19 talk because it involves small children sharing their germs together. School children have always been good at sharing their germs but this year the germs have morphed into a more serious problem.
This March we suddenly became homeschoolers and it was an interesting experience. Lucian wavered between liking school at home and not. He liked being able to finish most of his work by lunch time which left his afternoons free and clear. He did not like having to do the work to begin with because he wanted home to be home and school to be school. I still worked half the week which left Trenton in charge of 2-3 days of school depending on the week. He discovered he does not have the patience to be a teacher and according to Lucian, “Mommy didn’t give Daddy good enough directions which made him frustrated.”
I liked homeschooling but I only made up half the week. This year our school age children are 3 and 6 which is a completely hands on age group. Also this year I have been getting more requests to teach in school in various capacities so I may not even be able to devote half the week to homeschooling.
This year my sisters and our families got together to discuss our plans for the upcoming school year. We each prepared a list of pros and cons to discuss before we each made our own decisions. Here’s an abbreviated list:
Pros for attending school:
Teacher led instruction may be more effective.
Separation of siblings/grade levels will be less distracting.
Available resources for interventions (math, reading, speech, etc…)
Socializing with peers and other adults.
Parental sanity. (We love our children but a little space is nice.)
Cons for attending school:
Health concerns due to higher risk of exposure.
Safety concerns with identifying parents in masks.
Developing anxiety from constant reminders to: put mask on, wash hands, social distance, etc…..
These items are just a few on our collective lists. Our discussion went back and forth for and against. Good points, bad, and a whole lot of I don’t really knows. There are no right or wrong answers this year and both the school systems and families are going to have to be flexible.
Out of our three families we ended up with one for school, one for remote learning, and one still undecided.
This year I decided to experiment with optimizing my space in the garden. Rather than having wide rows that our big 26″ rear tine rototiller could fit down I planted my vegetables closer together to maximize our small garden space.
I have two vegetable gardens this year. One is about 4 ft. by 8 ft. and the other is about 5 ft. by 10 ft. and the pumpkin/squash patch is in our big garden this year. My idea was to plant short rows close together and hoe them regularly rather than run the rototiller every time the weeds started to take over. I thought shorter rows would be easier to manage than longer ones and with closer rows I could still plant as many vegetables as I usually do but in a smaller space.
Discoveries I made this year:
Shorter rows are easier to manage.
Closer together rows work well for some plants.
Radishes, onions, lettuce, peppers, and corn worked well to have the rows closer together. I planted 4 short onion rows and two radish rows about 6″ apart which worked out great because the plants don’t take up much space. I planted my lettuce about 8″ apart and my corn rows about 10″ apart. Having short 4 or 5 foot rows makes it easy to access the plants.
Closer rows DO NOT work well for some plants.
Mainly my tomatoes. This year seems to be a great year for my tomato plants because I have two sun sugar cherry tomatoes that are almost as tall as my sweet corn. The tomatoes have taken over the whole middle of one of my gardens and I have no idea how I am going to harvest the tomatoes when they ripen. I planted them in short rows about a foot apart and they have turned my garden into a jungle.
I inter spaced my corn with snap peas. Every two corn seed I planted a pea seed. The idea was to have my peas climb the corn stalks and use them as support. This would have worked out perfectly except my peas grew faster than my corn. I am planning to keep this planting arrangement next year but the corn needs about two weeks in the ground before I plant peas.
Overall our harvest has been great this year compared to last. I have been picking zucchini, summer squash, lettuce, kale, green beans, and peas. I have been enjoying the best vegetable stir fries from my own garden. My cherry tomatoes are almost ripe and I have peppers coming in. Soon we will have a ton of sweet corn. I’m going to be freezing green beans this weekend and I might even try a recipe to pickle a few.
For the most part I am happy with the garden this year but I am baffled about how I am going to brave my tomato jungle to harvest them. I really want tomato sauce and I have an awesome recipe for spiced tomato jelly from one of my book club ladies. It’s going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to the produce.