Back in March, I wrote up the Leaf’d gardening subscription service. It’s a fantastic company that provides quality seeds and healthy seedlings, along with educational material and guides, to help your kids and family learn to garden together. This post is a follow-up to that one.
Now that we’ve had a couple months of the growing season, I wanted to write another post with an update on how the Leaf’d plants are doing. In short, they’re doing great! Mostly. (Yes, I know we’re not great at weeding.)
We kept them inside for a long time, because our last frost date here in the high desert of northern Arizona is usually in May. But, between them getting too big for their little pots and the soil gnats that were taking over the house, we decided to move them outside around the third week of April. We ended up having a night in May that got almost to freezing, though! Oh well.
Most of the plants are/were doing well, but we have gained a burrowing critter that keeps stealing our plants from underneath. Here’s a breakdown of how things are going.
The two tomato plants aren’t getting very big, but they are putting out tomatoes. One has four, the other at least half a dozen. They are finally beginning to turn red, so I have hopes we can try them soon!
The two cucumber plants did not like being moved outside. I thought they were done for. They shriveled up and looked weird. But we kept watering them and they put out a lot of new growth. One even formed the beginnings of an itty bitty cucumber! And then the critter stole that half of the plant. Still, we have 1 1/2 plants left, and we hope for the best.
We’ve had so many flowers come out of the squash plants. One plant is completely gone to the critter, but the other is putting out a couple of actual squashes. They are too tiny to harvest, so I hope they stick around long enough for us to pick them.
The pepper plants aren’t getting too big, but they are flowering, and one has a little baby pepper! I can’t wait to see how that one turns out.
Basil (this came in our veggie pack)
The basil has done very well, sucking up the sunshine and water we give it, and giving us back sturdy, thriving, flavorful leaves. Putting it outside, the older leaves have been fading to a paler green, but the main stems are very strong, and new growth is thick and dark green.
The radish seeds were very good at sprouting. But planting the little sprouts in the ground outside was tricky. Still, most of them did well and flourished. When some of them looked like they were ready to harvest, we harvested one. I don’t like radishes, so I’m a bad judge of whether they were good. But Rory thought they tasted a bit like dirt, not like the radishes you get from the grocery. They showed up in different colors, though, so maybe there were several varieties included?
The beets are still growing in the garden and haven’t yet reached harvestable size. We supplemented the seeds we sprouted indoors by planting some more seeds directly in the ground. The critter has stolen several of the plants so far. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
The spinach seeds did well, but didn’t transfer too well outside, so we planted more seeds directly. They have sporadically done well, but the weather is too warm, they’re obviously fading, and the critter keeps stealing them. We’re hoping they’ll focus on these, leaving other plants alone!
The sage grew decently indoors, but it really started taking off when we moved it outside. It got really tall, but also has tons of new growth lower down. It was in the path of the robber critter, so we put it in a medium-sided pot that we had and it’s continuing to thrive there. Once we’re sure it’s happy there, we’ll prune the height.
Oregano and Mint
These two are just quietly doing well, hiding to one side of our garden. They’re growing larger, and at some point we’ll just harvest them, probably drying the oregano and putting the mint in some tea or other drink.
The lemon balm has been doing really well. We had one night when it dipped down to 33 degrees F, though, and the next day the leaves were brown around the edges. It seems to be thriving nevertheless. We’re still trying to figure out what to do with this herb. I found some chicken recipes that use it, but that’s about it.
The thyme has really thrived. Arriving as a tiny tangled mess, they’ve continued growing, creating a large tangled mess. The plants smell amazing. But, the critter stole about 3/4 of one of the plants, so we were quick to transplant these to a large pot we have outside.
The chives surprised me more than any of the other plants, by having very little growth. They survived the trip outside really well and have remained alive and sturdy, but they haven’t grown very much. Like, I’d be afraid to harvest any. I’m not sure what is supposed to happen with these, but they aren’t much bigger than when they arrived.
The parsley looked like it didn’t enjoy the warmer temperatures and didn’t grow as much as the other herbs overall. Plus, it was in the path of the garden critter who was stealing our plants, so we harvested and dried all the parsley, and look forward to cooking with it soon.
The Videos and Educational Materials
Before my earlier post, I was able to watch about half of the Education Kit videos and look at the materials for each weekly class. The rest of the weekly classes kept the quality of the first half, with a couple of lessons with included videos each week, links to handouts, related articles and resources on other websites, weekly lessons and quizzes, recipes, and more. Generally, they give you the lessons and resources just as you need them, but they tackled composting in week 6; I wish they’d covered it in week 1 or 2, because compost takes a while to break down. When you make it through all of the lessons, they email you a completion certificate.
It’s been so fun to see the plants grow and develop, and learn which plants and seeds thrive in our high desert environment. The highlights for me have been seeing the baby veggies form, watching the plants grow in size, and learning what plants do well in our specific conditions. Next year we’ll definitely focus on the ones that have thrived (tomatoes, basil, thyme, peppers, oregano, mint). But… maybe just in containers because of the local critter. Maybe we’ll try spinach again during the winter months.
The Leaf’d kits are definitely worth getting, especially if you want to make gardening a family activity, whether for educational purposes or not. You can get one box, or a bunch of boxes delivered throughout the year. If you already have a lot of garden know-how, the Education Kit probably isn’t necessary; you can get by with a regular kit and your own knowledge to teach your kids, or a “getting started with gardening” book. But the Leaf’d Education videos are specifically tailored to the kinds of things they send you, so it’s a complete package all on its own.
So, if subscription boxes are your thing, and you have garden space or some large containers, I definitely recommend Leaf’d as a product and service. They deliver high quality plants and seeds, and provide a gentle, on-going educational experience for kids and whole families, including plenty of recipes for your produce. Then you get to eat the results!
Kids learn best with hands-on activities, and gardening is certainly that. Plus, it teaches patience, persistence, and delayed gratification, as well as a respect for nature and the circle of life (which sometimes involves bugs and other critters feasting on your produce).
Note: I previously received some Leaf’d boxes for review purposes.