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Picking apples, frogs, and snakes?

Gardening with kids by Tania Moffat A

s soon as the apples start to grow, all I hear is, "When can we make the real apple juice

mom." And so begin the endless discussions about how fruit has to mature before we eat it. My oldest understands, my youngest not so much. He has been taste-testing apples since July, telling me he thinks they are ready now. Finally, after months of tasting and hounding me, the apples are ready to be picked, so I decided to enlist the boys' help. We have six apple trees left in our

orchard after fire blight forced us to cut down three others earlier this year. That said, six trees laden with apples is enough and still a lot of work. Espe- cially after high winds and a thunder- storm put half our crop on the ground. Before we started picking any new

apples I wanted to clean up all the ones that had fallen, a perfect job for two little boys! After ensuring they were dressed properly with a jacket and shoes, items they like to forget, we headed outside with the wheelbar- row. We started out great. Taeven and I

were picking apples from the ground and throwing them in the wheelbar- row while Desmond ate apples and threw in the odd yucky one, which is about what I expected from him. After the first wheelbarrow load, I

started trimming the suckers from the bottom of the tree. I explained to Taeven what they were and how they suck energy from the tree. He wanted to try cutting them off, so I showed him how to use the hand shears. He did a great job and was quite proud of himself. As always we found a few bugs −

ladybugs, grasshoppers, wasps and worms − and the boys looked at them and held them, and we talked about why some bugs were good and why others were not. It all began to fall apart when the

boys noticed the frogs. There were tons of them. Grey, brown, dark

34 • Beautiful Gardens 2014 Taeven picking fallen apples.

Distracted by the wildlife, my crew left me.

green, bright green and tan coloured, the little hoppers were everywhere! My crew soon left me in pursuit of more fun things to do, like catching frogs. Desmond spent half the day with an

apple in one hand and up to three tiny frogs in the other. I just picked the apples from the ground and watched them play together. Outside the boys are happy to play together, exploring the world

The long ride home laden with apples.

around them. They enjoy learning about nature through interactive experiences. After I finished cleaning up the

apples on the ground, I picked sever- al baskets for us to make applesauce and juice. I had to call the boys back to pick up the apples and because one of the baby garter snakes we had seen a month ago was all grown

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