Nutrients and Mulch
“What are you doing, Mama?” Emily asked as she pushed herself on our big swing.
“I’m clearing an area free of mulch for the strawberries,” I answered as I continued to rake gently, pulling the pieces of wood mulch free from the strawberries in the newly defined ‘Strawberry Creek are of our yard. The strawberries are beginning to emerge and grow bigger with each day. We have spent every day of the past week out in the yard – shoveling, raking, moving rocks from one place to another and planting seeds.
“Why?” Emily asked.
“Well, the strawberries need to be out of the mulch, because as it breaks down the mulch leaches nutrients from the strawberries.”
“What’s wrong with that?” she persisted.
I thought for a moment. “Imagine if you sat next to someone and they ate all of their food, and all of yours, day in and day out. You’d get hungry, you wouldn’t grow as fast as they did, and you wouldn’t look as healthy.”
“Ohhhh. I see.” She paused in her swinging to watch me. “Then what are you going to do?”
“I’ll put down nutrient-rich compost on top of the strawberries and edge the area with rocks so that the mulch doesn’t slide back and cover them back up.”
This led to a barrage of questions on just what nutrients were and how they worked. It was an excellent foundation for what came next.
Shaking It Up A Bit
I grabbed a writing exercise sheet we had already had printed up – one with her name on it. Which was an excellent idea, I’m glad Emily suggested we print off a whole bunch of them! I also located a good pencil and several plant themed books.
“It is such a nice day today Emily, let’s do some homeschool outside.”
Emily grinned and nodded happily at the idea. After a snack of mandarin oranges, while she practiced writing her name, I read from the stack of books – bug parts, leaves, stems, fruits, and a book about different shaped animal teeth.
These were part of a slew of books I requested from the library to fill in any gaps on life and plant science. It was great timing, what with all of that talk about nutrients earlier, the books helped cement the idea of how a plant’s stem works much the same as human capillaries – circulating nutrients throughout the ‘body’ and promoting growth.
As we were snacking, writing, and reading, a visitor came along…
The wings looked like crumpled, sun-burned leaves. The little critter hung out for a while and Emily identified not only its antennae, but the proboscis.
We made a house for it, which it hung out in long enough for its wings to dry. Dave told us that it was a newly hatched butterfly, which explains the crumpled look to its wings.
It was an excellent lesson end to our homeschool outside!