Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Getting three hours of outdoor time a day

This week I stumbled across an article about a family who committed to spending three hours outdoors every day for a year. As you can imagine, they noticed loads of positive benefits for their family, like better health, easier sleep, and pleasanter play between their kids.

It got me thinking about how I can get our family outdoors more this winter. We've had so much sickness already, and winter hasn't even started.

Last week it really wouldn't have been possible to get outdoors much, what with all the crazy storms passing through, bringing heavy rain, hail and lightning with them. The weather has been stunning this week though, so I've been trying to make the most of it while it lasts.

S has been off school for the past three days recovering from a vomiting bug that saw her hunched over a bowl most of Sunday night. Her temperature finally dropped today so she'll be going back to school tomorrow. I know that vitamin D is really good for boosting the immune system, so I've even been encouraging her to get outdoors as much as possible, even while she's been recuperating.

When she didn't have the energy to move around, we set her up with cozy blankets and pillows on the trampoline. She and L have been out there every day, sometimes reading books, sometimes playing imaginary games. It's been sunny, without being too hot, which makes the trampoline the perfect little nook to hang out in.

The girls biked to a local park and played on the playground there. That took a bit more energy than S had in her, post-vomiting bug, so I had to help her get home by pushing the bike while she sat on it.

This morning we stopped in at another playground on our way back from an activity, and I went for a walk around the track there while the girls played. Usually I would stay close to keep an eye on them, but I figured that they're old enough now to cope with me going for a walk, especially since I was in eye-sight of them the whole time. It was nice to stretch my legs in the sunshine.

Since we had the car with us, we also stopped in at a carpark where I had spied a fresh mulch pile earlier in the week. We had already visited the mulch pile several times the day before, to load up the car and bring mulch back to my gardens. The mulch must have come from a Eucalyptus tree, because it smells exactly like Eucalyptus essential oils.

After two days of trips back and forth from the mulch pile, my gardens are all topped up and looking fabulous. It smells divine out there now, and I love the contrast of the orange mulch with the green plants. Nothing freshens up my gardens up like new mulch.

Now, every time I open a window, I get a fresh whiff of Eucalyptus, which is the best thing since I'm recovering from a cold. I'm almost tempted to set a bowl of the stuff on my side table.

While I was in the gardening zone, I mowed the lawns. They were well overdue for a tidy up. Our property is clay based, so it gets really boggy in wet weather and the lawn mower just chops it up. I hadn't been able to cut the grass for a few weeks because of the rain. After all the sunshine we've had this week, I was able to mow it today without too much trouble. 

After mowing the lawns, I took one final trip to the mulch pile to top up this corner of the garden, which is quite a big space and takes a lot of mulch. All the gardens got weeded before I dumped the mulch on them, so at least I shouldn't have to weed them again for a while. 

Even my apple trees and nashi tree got a fresh dressing of mulch around their trunks, along with some sheep manure pellets for a hearty fertiliser fix.

The other gardening chore I tackled today was to clear one of my raised vegetable gardens. I pulled out a lot of spent plants and moved the rest so I can top up the soil with various ingredients and let it rot down over winter, ready for spring.

The girls wandered outside and soon got stuck into shifting strawberries out of the garden I was clearing and planting them in the one pictured above, which we'd already topped up with fresh soil recently.

The girls even put on their gumboots and turned all the soil in the freshly-cleared raised bed for me, with a large spade and a large pitch fork each. I told them to break up any clods of clay they found and mix them with the compost in the garden. We had ourselves a bit of an impromptu science/horticulture lesson on the difference between clay soils and sandy soils, and the best way to improve them both. (Hint: compost.)

The girls told me they felt like farmers, digging the soil over. In a way, that's exactly what we are. Vegetable farmers.

With the soil all nicely turned in our raised bed, we set out to a local beach to collect seaweed to top it up with. The girls went searching for treasures on the beach while while I filled up a couple of large containers with whatever seaweed I could find.

Back at home, I layered the seaweed on the garden (which is the top left-hand one in the photo above), mixed it with the soil, added a good sprinkling of sheep manure pellets and then covered the whole lot with grass clippings from my freshly mown lawns, which is why the garden looks green in the photo above. Next I'll empty one half of my rotating compost bin onto it and that should see it all the way full. I'd love to get my hands on some horse manure for the garden too. Veges go crazy for that stuff.

And that's all our outdoorsy stuff so far this week.

Do you think you could get outdoors for three hours every day? I'm not sure if we'll be able to do it consistently, but at least it's got me thinking about ways to fit more outdoor time into our days.

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