Garden with Petites: Part 1

Gardening has always been a passion of mine, since I was very small.  Some of my earliest memories are gardening with my gram, planting seeds and watching them grow.  So now that I have my own petites who just so happen to love gardening (thank goodness) every spring becomes this incredibly magical time where we talk more and more about the seeds, garden planning, the science, healthy food, ecosystems and so much more.  So we’ve been reading an absolute ton of books about gardens both fiction as well as non-fiction in preparation for spring and our planting.

The Children's Garden

For this first installment of Gardening with Petites, we are sharing The Children’s Garden: Growing Food in the City by Carole Lexa Schaefer illustrated by Pierr Morgan (Little Bigfoot, 2017) which is hitting shelves on Tuesday!  This is a story that is very much a homegrown story all about a children’s garden that is an actual garden here in Seattle.  If you don’t happen to live in a larger city a community garden may be a new concept, I know that I was unaware of just what a pea patch or community garden was until I moved to Seattle.  The premise is that community members come together to grow food and then can share or donate the extra food that they grow.

The Children's Garden Inside 1

This is a story all about the joy, learning, respect, community, responsibility and teamwork.  This book tells the story of children from the neighborhood who ride their bikes, pull their wagons and walk with their friends in tow to their community garden.  This is their garden, they are allowed to listen, see, smell, touch and taste – because it is all theirs.

The Children's Garden 2

This story teaches all about what the children learn from the garden, the important role that worms play in this important ecosystem that allows their seeds to grow.  The illustrations are fantastic in that they depict the diversity of the children coming to their community garden.  The vibrant illustrations are chock-full of birds, insects, and the lush colors of summer.  This book depicts exactly what you would envision a community garden would look like; with raised beds using mixed materials and assorted pots and children everywhere planting and harvesting all that their hard work has produced.

The Children's Garden 4

There are so many elements of this book that I, as a mom, teacher and gardener find valuable – the lessons that are taught are so important (they are also taught in a very subtle way), your petite will be inspired to get out and grow things, maybe even try some new foods they have been reticent to try before, they will learn new responsibilities and that through hard work and patience that there is a reward.

The Children's Garden 3

What my petites loved about reading this book is that we are currently planting seeds and planning our garden and they loved seeing other kids planting their gardens.  The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, you will have to read it a few times to catch all of the tiny details that Pierr Morgan has included, the tiny snails or quail chicks.  This book inspires, empowers, excites, and fosters pride! Reading The Children’s Garden along with a trip to your local garden center will ensure that your petite has a summer filled with gardening fun.

Bloggers Note: This book was given to me by Little Bigfoot in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions shared in this post are my own.  Thank you to Little Bigfoot for permission to use images from The Children’s Garden in this post.






Old Manhattan Has Some Farms


I know some parts of the country are still building snowmen and the idea that spring is just around the corner couldn’t come soon enough.  Well here in Seattle, we’ve been enjoying oddly warm weather.  Which makes dreaming about planting that amazing garden a reality.  My girls love gardening and digging in the dirt, and when we happened upon Old Manhattan Has Some Farms at the library a few days ago we couldn’t wait to get home and start talking about our garden.  Old Manhattan Has Some Farms by Susan Lendroth and illustrated by Kate Endle is a book that is wonderful for so many different reasons.  The book is based on ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’ which makes it incredibly fun to sing with your petites.  It is educational – this book will teach your child about different kinds of gardens and how a garden can be grown anywhere.  Giving them new vocabulary words that are so important for language development.


This book has illustrations that highlight the diversity of the people who live in the different cities featured – we love a book with an illustrator that is able to capture diversity.  We need more diversity in our books, especially our books for young children, so hooray for Kate Endle.  Another reason this book is so special is it focuses on many different cities and the types of gardens one might find there; I am always a fan when one of my favorite places is mentioned in a book, even better if you happen to live there.


The citites featured are Manhattan, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, White House (DC).  The message is that anyone anywhere can grow a garden no matter how big or small.  This book is so much fun and the illustrations along with the singing make this a fantastic book for petite gardeners.

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden

It is feeling like springtime here in Seattle, the blossoms are out and making the neighborhood smell divine. This time of the year brings about such possibility. Seed catalogues have arrived and the possibilities are endless. I’ve never had the garden that I have dreamed of, I have always had a porch or a cement pad that I have been able to utilize and turn into something.  However, having a small space does bring about certain challenges.  The goal of this 40th anniversary edition is

To accommodate today’s lifestyles, a garden needs to fit easily into a very small plot, take as little time as possible to maintain, require a minimum amount of water, and still produce prolifically. That’s exactly what a postage stamp garden does. Postage stamp gardens are as little as 4 by 4 feet, and, after the initial soil preparation, they require very little extra work to produce a tremendous amount of vegetables–for instance, a 5-by-5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables.


Recently, I came across Karen Newcomb’s most informative book The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers.  This book is filled with such helpful pieces of advice and tips for making the most of the space you have.  I think that one thing that this book does really well is offers the specific types of midget vegetables that work the best in containers and smaller gardens…for me, this has always been the most difficult aspect of the small garden – finding the varieties that are successful.  This book takes all the guess-work out of planning.

Karen Newcomb gets even more specific by telling you which varieties and types of veggies will give you the most bang for your small gardening buck.

What I like most about this book is that it really covers all you would need to know about having a small garden.  If you were to buy one book as a resource for your small garden this book should be it.  There is no reading about a variety of tomato then needing to get out another book to read about the details of that plant or of getting on the internet to find out who sells those seeds.  This book has all of that information in one easy to read and use location.

The varieties of plants are specific, with how much space you need, how long it takes, what the plants prefer and also where you can find them (which seed companies).  There is also a section that clearly tells you how much time you will need to start those seeds indoors.  Something I’ve not seen before that this book has is a table that tells you how many plants you will require to feed each person in your family.  This is so helpful when you have limited space and need to maximize what you do have.


This book is packed with information that will help you to have your dream garden no matter how much space you have.

When first published 40 years ago, the postage stamp techniques, including closely planted beds rather than rows, vines and trailing plants grown vertically to free up space, and intercropping, were groundbreaking. Now, in an ever busier world, the postage stamp intensive gardening method continues to be invaluable for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a whole lot less yet produce so much more.

The one downside of this book for me is the lack of pictures.  I am very visual when it comes to things like gardening and I would have loved to see more pictures of the plants or actual gardens.  With that said the information is so thorough that I almost didn’t mind the lack of pictures.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions in the post are my own.

Petite Foodies: Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious

Alice Waters is a true revolutionary in the culinary world.  She in essence started the farm to table movement more than 30 years ago.  In her Berkeley California restaurant, Chez Panisse, she sourced all of her food locally from farmers and foragers.  In 2014, Time Magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people for her work in promoting good food for all.  If you want to know more about Alice Waters and her amazing legacy listen to this story on NPR about her.  She is amazing in more ways than one, a project she currently works on is called Edible Schoolyards where public school students learn to grow food that is then used in their school lunches.  Amazing, right?

“We’re trying to bring children into a new relationship with food where they have an opportunity to work in a garden,” she says. “They know what it is to plant the seeds and pick the weeds and they’re learning about what it takes to cook the food. … We’ve been separated from this experience through a kind of fast-food indoctrination that’s been going on for the last 50 years. So we need to really come back to our senses and really understand, like most every other country in the world, that food is something precious.” – Alice Waters

What an important skill for our children to be learning.  Alice Waters is culinary hero to me and I was thrilled to see this book showcasing her in the children’s section of our public library.



Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Hayelin Choi (2014), published by Readers to Eaters is not only pleasing to the eye, but filled with a fantastic story and really fun little factoids about Waters life.

To me this book hits on so many different levels of inspiration.  Food and eating well, along with growing your own foods and sourcing local foods.  Trying new things, which is something we strive to promote in our house.  Travel and enjoying destinations and cultures through food.  A sense of adventure and how food can take you to new places literally and figuratively.

I love this book and think you will too.  Please tell me in the comments what you think or if you have other petite foodie recommendations.


Petite Gardeners

My petites love to garden and here in the Pacific Northwest we get a little rainy and gardening for our family often doesn’t extend into the winter months.  Until now, I was poking around on Pinterest the other night and saw this, first of all could this little petite be any cuter?  No, I don’t think so.  Check out Katie’s blog here, this is the tutorial for the garden box.  I am in love and digging through my felt to see what I already have to make this adorable play garden.  I haven’t tried the tutorial yet, but just looking at all the details provided I am thinking I am in good hands.  What a fantastic idea to tide petite gardeners through the winter months.

Garden Box Made by Katie at

Garden Box Made by Katie at

Since I am so fond of pairing toys with books I thought about some of our favorite books about gardening and one author comes to mind – Lois Ehlert.  We absolutely love her books, the bright colors and abstractness of the images are fabulous.  I was so excited when I realized that there is a boxed set of her gardening books – Lois Ehlert’s Growing Garden.  The set includes Planting a Rainbow, Eating the Alphabet and Growing Vegetables Soup.  These books are really fantastic for little ones who are learning words and colors as well as for older kiddos who are learning about planting, harvesting and cooking.  These books coupled with the lovely garden box would be an amazing gift for an little one who loves to garden.

Lois Ehlert Boxed Set

My garden, not just a feast for humans, but the neighborhood vermin as well.

Living in the city has some major benefits, in my neighborhood the walking score is 75 which means I can walk just about every place I want to go, amazing shops, restaurants, markets etc.  It’s pretty awesome.  However, there are some downsides to living in a city the main one lately: vermin.  When I was still pregnant with my little one, I was dumping water out of my daughters turtle pool and when I lifted it and giant white rat ran out from under it.  I screamed and my daughter yelled “ooo catch it!”.  Given this was not a “city” rat, more so a discarded pet, but still vermin.  A few months later as we were readying the garden for spring,  I saw something brown (this time), out of the corner of my eye, scurry under the fence.  This time I waited till my husband got home to further inspect.  Sure enough this brown rat had made itself the most amazing little nest under a wine crate and had apparently had a very cozy winter.  I almost felt bad throwing his home away.  Almost.

Fast forward a few months and I have my little victory garden going strong in pots, wine crates, burlap sacks and IKEA bags.  I couldn’t be happier.  I have so many things growing, thirty-five different varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs to be precise.  Things I wasn’t sure would grown in these vessels, but do.  It gives me so much pleasure to go outside and tinker around and pull weeds and tend to my tiny garden.  But I find that most of the time I am on a mission, to protect these plants from the “vermin of the week”.

The first vermin that was the bane of my existence – cabbage worms – lovely green color, voracious appetite, incredibly reproductive capacity, smooth and squishy.  What’s not to love about these guys?  Oh yeah they ate almost my entire Brassica family of plants in less than a week.  I found that picking and smashing these little ones was my best bet.  I also used ground up egg shells  around the base of the plants, and eventually they went away.  Fortunately my plants all survived, even if they do have polka dot leaves according to my daughter.


Please disregard my manicure

Next up – snails and slugs – yep, I live in a rainy city, of course there are snails and slugs, obvious garden intruder.  These guys and gals enjoy slowly ruining your plants only to sneak away into the shadows during the day.  However,  I don’t want to be using Sluggo to kill them because it hurts the poor little bees.  So it is again and seek and destroy, or if my 4-year-old is around, a seek and relocate mission.  Look it this big boy!  Seriously, this is what I am dealing with, he was enjoying my amazing potatoes, I don’t think so fatty.

Now, for the unlikely crustacean (yes, apparently not a bug at all), that I was once fond of, that now I cannot kill fast enough – the rollie pollie.  What, they are so cute?, they roll up, they are so fun.  Cute exoskeleton, fun for small children to hold and delight in, enjoys living with hundreds of their closest friends, enjoys eating all of my green bean plants.  Out of all the vermin destruction so far this is the most disappointing to me, I grew all of these bean plants from seeds and they were just getting these most amazing beans on them.  Now, I have a decimated box of nothing.  Damn you rollie pollie!beans

And drumroll please, the final vermin that has been dining in my garden – raccoon – now I haven’t seen this greedy bastard in action like all of the afore mentioned pests.  Last night I planted some celery in my garden, that I grew from the cuttings of kitchen scraps and this morning I went out to water and what did my eyes see?  A missing celery plant!  BAH!  So today I will be walking to the hardware store to get some screening to cover my celery, if anyone reading this happens to know what other plants raccoons likes to eat just let me know.

All in all, the garden is still looking pretty darn good if you ask me.  I just need to up my game as far as what vermin to expect next.  The raccoon definitely took me by surprise.  Some of my friends who live in neighboring cities, have bears and deer eating their berries and gardens, I guess my midnight munching raccoon isn’t so bad.

If any of you reading this have expert advice on controlling/eradicating some of these pests let me know, especially the rollie pollie, I have no idea what to do about these guys and I need some help.


My Gram’s Green Thumb

My Gram could grow just about anything.  She had an amazing garden.  I used to spend hours with her in the garden tending to the flowers and giving them lots of extra love.  She grew these amazing orchids in her sun-room.  These orchids lived long after she passed away in the care of my aunt and uncle.  My uncle has the green thumb too, he used to live in a house in the bay area where he had this, what I remember to be a, secret garden behind the main yard where he grew these huge tomatoes, you could almost get lost in his tomato plants.  I am sure there were lots of other delicious things in there too, but I remember the endless tomato plants and the huge amazingly red tomatoes.  My grams passion for growing things lives on in me as well.  I love gardening.  I love that you can grow amazing things in the garden and take them to your table and provide delicious meals from foods that you grew for your family.  When I think of gardening, my real strength and passion is in growing edibles, rather than flowers – don’t get me wrong flowers are lovely, but with limited space I tend to attempt vegetables and herbs.
Unfortunately, I do not live in a rural location where I can have the garden I dream about.  But aren’t these amazing?  I am in love with all of them.  They all have something in common…space and raised beds.  Yes, please!
My reality is a concrete slab and beauty bark.  Boo! So I attempt to make do.  Sometimes it is an epic fail, but honestly that never stops me – there is always the chance it will be a mini garden of my dreams.  This year I’ve agreed to a challenge.  The goal is to spend only $50 on the garden.  In the past two years I’ve spent a lot of money and had very poor luck.  Basically, my garden has been a disaster the last two years.
This year is going to be different.  Usually I would have given up on this gardening in this yard, but I just can’t do it.  It feels wrong to give it up.  So, with my $50 the petite and I decided we are going to have our own little victory garden.
Last year I ordered seeds from a catalog and didn’t use them all so I attempted to grow them indoors to see what would happen – since they were out of date I consulted the web and found that yes indeed they have a much longer shelf life if they are stored properly.  We were so excited to see the seeds start growing.  I decided to make a gutter garden since we are so limited on space outside and the rest of the garden is in containers.  Some of these are found containers, wine crates, old Tupperware bins that I have drilled holes in.
garden 1
We’ve got quite a bit going on in the garden so far, in the gutter gardens we have strawberries, two types of lettuce and chard.  We’ve also planted peas, green beans, kale, cucumbers and zucchini.  We recently sowed some seeds outside now that it is a bit warmer.  We have scallions, carrots, 4 different types of lettuce, and beets.  We’re also attempting to grow potatoes in a clothes hamper – I have no idea if this is going to work.  If it does, I will be so excited, if not oh well it was a good effort.  What I really struggle to grow from seeds is tomatoes, we’ve tried a few varieties, and will see how they grow, but I’ve already reserved some of the budget to buy tomato starts.  I just need to decide what types of tomatoes to get, last year I bought the “doesn’t grow tomatoes” variety so I am hoping to not have that happen again.
My Budget $50
  • Kale, chard, strawberries, peas – $10
  • Watering can $8
  • Fertilizer, bamboo for the peas, and arugula starts $13
What’s your favorite go to vegetable in the garden?  I’m always curious as to what other people grow in their gardens.
Happy growing,

Starting Seeds Indoors in Egg Shells

photo 5

Kentucky Wonder Green Bean

As spring rolls around in most parts of the country, here in Seattle, we usually have a few warm days and lots of rainy days intermixed.  I don’t mind the rain for sleeping in, lounging and reading a book, sipping tea etc.  For planting seeds, it is often too soggy.  A few years ago I had a student who made me a grow light and stand in wood shop – awesome right?  However, I have no idea where my precious light went.  So this spring I have decided to try a new way of starting seeds inside.  Egg Shells.

I had seen and read about people using egg-shells, and I wasn’t really sure how this would work, in the past I’ve used the little peat pots, or the starter discs that fill up with water.  Last spring, I used those little discs and the batch I got was infested with bugs and once I started watering the plants the bugs hatched – super gross.

I also really am not a fan of paying for things that have temporary uses  – like those little dirt discs or peat pots.  My thinking is that we eat a ton of eggs, probably should have chickens we eat so many eggs.  Since I have an abundance of free egg shells I thought I would give it a try.  Let me tell you, I am so glad I did.

I was able to grow seeds in  lightning speed.  Within one week the seeds were doing amazing and some were even overachieving like the one on the left.  Okay let me tell you what we planted in our egg-shells.

Going from left to right:one week in

  1. Kentucky Wonder Green Beans
  2. Tender Green Beans
  3. Straightneck Yellow Squash
  4. Zucchini
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Kentucky Wonder Green Beans

After two weeks some of the green bean seedlings were getting so big they needed a larger space, so I put a few of them into smaller pots.  It is still in the low 40s at night, sometimes still frosting and I am planning to keep them inside just a little bit longer before the hardening off process will take place.



What I thought was so interesting about using the eggs is that the roots seem to be so much more extensive than I have seen in the past, I don’t know if it is the thin membrane on the eggs, but look at those roots.  photo 2The petite and I had so much fun pealing the egg off of the new little plant and putting them into bigger pots.

After already planting these little seeds I read that sometimes smaller seeds do better (oh well, mine did just great), so now I just need to make a frittata, quiche or something to get some more egg shells to start my next batch of seeds, as you may have seen me mention the petite wants to grow “salad” in the gutter garden, so we need to get seeds sown to make her gardening dreams come true.  I loved doing this project and it is really so easy to do.  The hardest part is remembering not to demolish the egg-shell when you crack it.

A really great blog that I am loving to read about all things garden related is Gardening Betty, she has given me some amazing ideas on using found items at home and ways to shop the local dollar store for items that I don’t have around the house.  I am most jealous of her amazing avocado tree, if only one would grow in Seattle.

Yay for Spring!