End of June Garden Update

End of June Garden Update Renees Garden @outdoorhourchallenge

Time for a little end of June garden update! Make sure to check the garden tab at the top of the website for a whole list of garden related nature study ideas. You will also find there the crop plants list that helps you study many of the common garden vegetables you may be already growing in your garden.

Here is the link for green beans: Crop Plants – Green Beans.

renees garden seed update June 29 (5)

I am enjoying the gardening season! Every morning I pop outside and take a garden tour, sometimes even before I have coffee. The progress of each box is easily seen as they grow quickly in the summer heat. These are Slenderette bush beans from Renee’s Garden.

renees garden seed update June 29 (6)

I think I may have planted a few too many beans this year but that will give me a supply to share with friends who love beans as much as I do in the summer. I tucked some marigolds in between the bean plants for some color and to attract some pollinators. The pole beans are Renee’s Garden – Blue Lake variety.
renees garden seed update June 29 (7)Is it possible to love a zucchini plant? I don’t know if it is or not but I will say it anyway. I love this zucchini from Renee’s Garden (Raven variety).


Here are the actual plants that look fantastic. I am hoping to see some produce from this soon…you know how it is with zucchini. They can sprout up to be monsters overnight practically.

renees garden seed update June 29 (8)

I have one box where I mixed four different flower seeds together and sprinkled the seeds to fill the box. This sounded like a good idea at the time but now it is hard to tell what are actual flowers and what are weeds that need to be pulled out.

Flowers Planted in this Box- All Renee’s Garden Seeds

White Wonder – Heirloom Double Feverfew

Mighty Lion – Butterfly Zinnia

Paradise Mix Echinacea – Butterfly Flowers

White Bishop’s Lace- Butterfly Flowers

I will keep you updated as the summer growing season progresses. Just so you know…I received my Renee’s Garden Seeds in exchange for my honest review of the product. I have used Renee’s Garden seeds for many years and highly recommend them. Thanks for taking a look at my garden goodness.

How is your garden coming?





Outdoor Hour Challenge – Insect Mosquito

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Mosquito Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Archive Post: Mosquitoes

I have been so annoyed with mosquitoes lately, both in the daylight and in the evenings. Perhaps it is because I am spending a lot of time outdoors in my garden and on the hiking trail. It seems as if I have a mosquito bite at all times (thank goodness for tea tree oil!).

This week, use the Outdoor Hour Challenge for mosquitoes to learn more about this flying winged insect using both the Handbook of Nature Study and the Discover Nature At Sundown books if you own them.

This challenge was originally shared in the Summer Nature Study ebook. If you have an Ultimate Naturalist membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study website, you will find this ebook in your library. You can pull the ebook up and find the corresponding notebook page for the challenge.

If you would like all the Summer Series Challenges in one place, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. Here is a link to a complete description:
Summer Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges
Summer Nature Study Ebook Outdoor Hour Challenge

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy



Calaveras Big Trees State Park – Tips and Images

alaveras Big Trees State Park Tips and Images @handbookofnaturestudy

We had the chance to camp for a few days at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. We waited too long and we couldn’t get a campsite at Yosemite National Park so we decided to try Calaveras as an alternative (the parks are about 80 miles apart). If you are looking for a spot to camp and hike under the tall trees, this is a wonderful place to do it. Of course, there are no spectacular waterfalls at Calaveras but there are lots of trees, wildflowers, and a river to satisfy your nature loving spirit. Yosemite National Park has three groves of sequoia trees and Calaveras has two main groves – the North and the South groves. We hiked both groves during our visit.

I have visited many of California’s sequoia groves in my life time but the South Grove at Calaveras Big Trees is my favorite because of the quietness and wildness of its location. It takes effort to get there on a hike of around four miles round trip after a nine mile drive from the park entrance but that makes it less crowded so you can enjoy the natural beauty of a ancient sequoia grove.

Calaveras Big Trees May 21 2016 (13) Take a quick stop at the visitor center before you head down the road to the grove. I loved this visitor center because of its very well down exhibits that provide a decent background to the sequoia story, the local habitat, and the cultural information about this area.

Now you can drive down to the trailhead, perhaps stopping briefly at the view point. The hike to the South Grove starts at a large parking lot adjacent to a picnic area with restrooms. There are no sequoias here but the forest is full of tall pines and cedars and a creek. Across the creek you start the trail to the South Grove. I picked up the interpretive trail guide for fifty cents at the visitor center but there are some at the trailhead as well. Calaveras Big Trees South Grove Now the hike! It was a good trail that isn’t too steep…gradual incline. If you are using the interpretive guide, it will describe some of the specific things you are viewing along the way to the actual grove and then a little background and information about certain trees as you hike the loop. We encountered a handful of people during our hike and it felt as if we were there all on our own. I love that!Calaveras Big Trees Sequoia We had a friend along with us that had never seen sequoias before and it was interesting to hear her comments about the massive size of these trees. Calaveras Big Trees Creek The quiet is broken only with babbling creeks and birdsong. Imagining these trees growing for thousands of years boggles the mind. We learned a lot about the sequoia life cycle on this hike, the interconnected web of seed dispersal that includes a certain squirrel and a beetle, and the value of a good fire to the stability of this forest ecosystem. We also saw a snake! Calaveras Big Trees North Grove If you want to see some sequoias and are not wanting the crowds of Yosemite, this is a great alternative place to visit. There are two large campgrounds if you like to camp. We stayed at North Grove and it was very pretty. There was a creek running through the camground and there were places for kids to dip in a net to catch a minnow or a tadpole. The large meadow adjacent to the campground has a boardwalk across it so you can walk out and enjoy the plants, insects, and other sights in this habitat. Please note that the main highway runs alongside the campground and it might be smart to check the area map when you are making your reservations to see if your site backs up to the road. We could hear the cars go by from our site but it wasn’t distracting. Calaveras Big Trees StumpHere is the obligatory image from atop the big stump (Discovery Stump). We enjoyed our stay at the park and highly recommend it to families who are looking for camping, hiking, and exploring in Northern California.

Additional Tips

  • Distances: From San Francisco – about 150 miles. From Reno, Nevada – about 125 miles. From Sacramento- 100 miles. From South Lake Tahoe- about 90 miles (gorgeous drive!)
  • There is a fee to get into the park for day use.
  • It does snow here in the winter so you will want to check the park’s website for information on road closures.
  • In winter, there is a warming hut for those that use the trails for snow shoes and skiing.
  • Towns near-by for hotels, restaurants, and gas: Arnold, CA and Murphys, CA.

You can read more of my national park entries by following these links: