“Can I help, Mama?”
Every request from a child is an opportunity‒ an extraordinary and formidable thing. Yesterday, I was reminded for the hundredth time why including our children in our homestead tasks is an incredibly beautiful endeavor, not one to take lightly or squander.
It had been an exhausting two days in the garden as Mother’s Day weekend began to wane gold and blue to the west. Already, I had de-dandelioned the lawns and driveway, top-dressed all of the raised beds with “Mel’s Mix,” helped the hubby get the roof onto the chicken coop, dug out and planted the potato patch, assembled a new raised bed with the family, tossed fertilizer about like it was confetti at a carnival, lugged hoses around to the “I-owe-you-dripline” spots, and sewn at least two dozen different varieties of herbs and veggies. I was at my physical and mental limit as I stared right through a dozen packets of beans and peas begrudgingly held before me in my own foreign hands. I was dirty and sore and thirsty and had a blister. All I wanted in that moment was a hot bath, steaming pot of tea, and something white with a lot of writing on it.
The kids laughed and squealed from the swings, and I was tempted to leave them to it. “They’re having fun,” I argued with myself. “I could just plant these real quick and be done with it” I offered guiltily to my alter-ego. And yet, all of me knew deep down that this would ultimately cheat our kids out of something truly incredible.
Spring planting comes but once a year. Instinctively, I knew that these young ones in my charge would derive more delight, more value, more satisfaction, and more magic from those green bean teepees of summer if their little fingers had done the poking.
And so, against my exhausted will, I called out, “Kids! Want to help me plant the teepees?” The moment they leaped down from their swings and came running to me as if I’d just offered them lollipops, I knew that I’d almost made the wrong choice, the selfish choice, and that it wouldn’t be the first or last time. Slowly, I poured the brown, green, pink, red, and yellow pebbles into their dirty palms as we all squatted in a circle. They stared in silent wonder at their collection of truly magic beans. Then, with the greatest of care, they solemnly carried their little treasures and followed my directions to plant the long and trellising beans at the base of each pole, and space two bush beans in each window between.
Heads down and brows at work, they carefully placed their beans, poking each lovingly into the wet-black teepee rings. I helped Goldilocks cover each bean as she personified them aloud as “little babies” being tucked into bed.
It took longer. It was more stressful. It wasn’t as neat as I could have done by myself. But it was infinitely more real, like what a big, juicy bite of ice-cold watermelon would be to someone who had seen pictures of the fruit but never tasted it before.
“I planted them in a pattern, Mama!” the Captain announced proudly when he’d finished, and the three of us stood back and considered our work, a satisfied smile across each of our faces.
The moment of thoughtful repose gave us away as dreaming green again, our heads full of lush, shady, crisp imaginings weaving in and out of the bare stakes. We could almost pluck one from the colorful portière and taste it.
I took a deep breath of forest air and hot steaming soil as I smiled on the prospect of picnics and reading retreats atop a Mexican blanket laid as a carpet inside our edible wigwams. We gardeners are all of us really just kids building forts.
The Captain and Goldilocks returned to swing into the skies, and I thought again of those ding-dang dandelions I had paid the first hours of the weekend to. I considered how every last one of those yellow heads is filled with a thousand more to plant upon the wind. Then I looked at the honey heads rising and falling on their swings and smiled to think it’s quite the same ‒yet another mysterious fingerprint of God. I can plant a single bean, just me, myself, and I. Or, I can deposit that little bean into the palm of a child, and it will root into her soul long before the soil. The splendor of it will spread like dandelion tufts in the wind and will settle into future gardens filled with more teepees and more magic pebbles to be placed into more eager little palms.
For when we garden with children, the herbs and flowers and veggies and fruit trees are indeed the least of what we are cultivating.
Family-Friendly Tutorial for Assembling Birdies Beds
“I can do this by myself, Mama!”
It is an important cornerstone in our family that our homestead projects be whole-family affairs! Getting outside and creating something incredible with our children is about the most blessed activity under the sun as far as we see it. We believe that homesteading for our children is inferior to homesteading with our children. And assembling Birdies raised beds together is a great place to start, even with a child as young as four! The more hands the merrier, and little fingers may even be more helpful than big ones! With the four of us, two adults and two kids ( eight and four), it takes us an unhurried hour to assemble a large 8-in-1 raised bed.
So, here’s our full tutorial for assembling Birdies beds with the whole family plus a really great deal at the end of the post for buy-3-get-1-free-beds + 5% off your order! This is Epic Gardening’s biggest sale of the year, so don’t miss out! 😀
*Please note: this post includes affiliate links for Epic Gardening.
We only ever share products that we genuinely use and love! We give our highest recommendation for Birdies Raised Beds not just to our followers but to our friends and family as well!
For more information about these beds, check out our previous post: 12 Reasons We LOVE Our Raised Birdies Beds🐦
Let’s get BUILDING!
Follow these simple step-by-step instructions, or skip to our time-lapse instructional video a little further down in the post!
Step #1: Open the box(es) and let your kid(s) peel the protective velum off of the panels!
This is an easy and oh-so-satisfying task for even the littlest of helpers. Just make sure they get that little strip along the edges which if left on can interfere with the weather stripping. (If you zoom in on the photo above you can see the small strip sticking off the corner.)
Step #2: Hold the panels together and let your kid(s) poke the screws in place while you secure the bolts on the other side!
Little fingers are just perfect for this task! Older kids can even take turns twisting the bolts on as well. It’s a great fine motor skill for our kids to practice. Also, don’t worry just yet about tightening the screws up all the way. We’ve found that finishing off the job with a drill is the fastest way to get ‘er done.
Step #3: Tighten each screw in place with a drill while your child holds it taught on the other side with the little wrench included in your kit!
Your little helper is sure to feel like a big shot wielding this truly child-sized wrench!
Step #4: Repeat until all the panels are together and the bed shape achieved.
Let your kids try different tasks if you can spare the time! Kids LOVE trying their hand at power tools 😀
Step #5: Add the suspension rods in if assembling an extra tall 8-in-1 Birdies bed.
Step #6: Take out the coil of weather stripping and simply press onto the top rim and trim off the excess at the end!
Note: if the stripping isn’t going on well, make sure that the small strip of vellum at the top was successfully removed. Also, if the stripping is stubborn and not sliding on well, use that little wrench again to pry open tight spots in the stripping to get it onto the bed. The X-shaped beds are the most difficult for securing the weather stripping at the tight inner curves. If securing onto tight corners, hand the job to the strongest member of the family armed with that little wrench!
Step #7: Place your bed(s) out in the garden, level them up and get filling!
Stay tuned for our upcoming post DIP INTO OUR 7-LAYER GROW BEDS. That’s right, we fill our beds with seven different layers of ingredients, like a dirt lasagna! 😆 But if you’re planting right now and can’t wait around for me to finish dishing up that post, here’s the sticky note version:
- wire at the base of bed for rodents
- dead wood/logs to about a foot remaining growing space
- dead leaves/sticks/mulch/debris/grass clippings to fill in the spaces and cushion a few inches
- “Mel’s Mix” for remainder (roughly equal parts compost, coconut coir, and perlite/vermiculite)
- a top dressing of fertilizer (arguably unnecessary but I like a little extra love and insurance for my plant babies)
Buy 3 Beds Get 1 FREE + stack with my 5% discount code 😀
Epic Gardening is having their biggest sale of the year May 15th through 29th for buy 3 beds get an equal or lesser value bed free which can be STACKED with our exclusive 5% off discount code!
Here’s all the links, codes, and details you need to get an epic deal:
- Our exclusive affiliate link for 5% off your entire order: https://lets.growepic.co/818
- Our discount code: HOLISTICHOMESTEAD
- Buy-3-Get-1-Free Deal applies automatically in-cart
- Add all 4 beds in cart (aka a free bed won’t automatically appear in cart)
- The lowest cost (or equal value) bed will be marked as free
- Promo can apply multiple times to one order 🙂 … buy 6 beds, get 2 free etc. (must add all 8 to cart first)
Here’s our new “X-marks-the-spot” Birdies bed for our little green thumbs!
We love this new X-shaped raised Birdies bed design! The one drawback to our tall raised beds is that our kids can’t really dig in. So, we got this one which is lower to the ground specifically for the kids to be able to focus cultivating on their own! I especially love the X-marks-the-spot design because our kids and up to six little friends can all gather round and have their own spaces for sowing, watering, and weeding. It’s awesome! I can’t think of a better raised bed for getting little green thumbs started in the garden.
Here’s a quick time-lapse instructional video of us putting this X-marks-the-spot bed together with the kids:
*It took the four of us about 45 minutes to put this bed together.
I’ll share an update next post with what the kids decide to plant in their raised bed. They are in the thick of garden planning just now! 😆
HAPPY BUILDING! HAPPY GROWING!
Thank you so much for taking a peek at our homestead today! We’re so glad you dropped by.
Love, Candace Arden
~Our Holistic Homeschool~