Tornado Safety

In the spring months, across the United States, storms are violent and unleash rain, hail, lightning, and high winds.  Occasionally, especially in the central plains of North America, tornadoes form from the storms.  Although many tornadoes are spawned in the spring on the plains, they can occur almost anywhere where the conditions are right for their formation.

The safety tips listed here have been used successfully to save the lives of people trapped in the path of a tornado.  Practice them with your children so that in case of emergency, they will know exactly what to do even if you are not there.

If your community has a tornado warning horn, make sure that the children know what it means and what to do when they hear it.

Many homeschoolers are radio amateurs operating ham radio stations.  They can become tornado spotters by attending a class on the topic.  The class is very informative, has great videos of severe weather, and gives the hams concrete directions so that they can help others during a tornado watch.  Many children have attended this class.  By the way, learning to be a radio operator is an excellent way to do physics, especially since the student does not have to learn Morse code to pass the examination.

Tornado Safety

  1. When in your house, get away from windows and go to a central location in the house.  In a basement, under the stairs, or in a bathroom is best.
  2. Take with you a heavy blanket or a mattress to wrap up in or get under if you have time.
  3. Get down against a wall or under a desk with your arms over your head.
  4. When in a trailer, leave it and seek other, more secure shelter.
  5. Outside in your car, never try to outrun the tornado.
  6. Leave the car and seek shelter under a culvert or overpass.  When under an overpass, get up close under the upper level.
  7. If caught outside without protection, lie down in a ditch or low place with your arms over your head.
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Resources for Studying Trees

Identification Guides:

North American Wildlife This book includes color pictures of all the common trees, shrubs, and animals of North America.  Concise information about habitats, eating habits, and growth are included.

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees Western Region by Elbert Little.  (and you can also get the Eastern Region, as applicable)  Full colored pictures of the bark and the leaves of the trees of North America.

Peterson First Guide To Trees. Field guide for the beginning naturalist, with full color illustrations!

Plant Families-  How to Know Them. H. E. Jaques compiled this taxonomy key.  This pictured-key has almost all known members of the plant kingdom.

Trees:

Trees for American Gardens:  The Definitive Guide to Identification & Cultivation by Donald Wyman.  This is a tree book for the gardener who wants to know about the trees he has and about new trees he can get.  Many details about native trees as well as those cultivated, but not occurring in natural settings.

4-H Forestry Project: Forests of Fun. According to their website, “Forests of Fun provides a wealth of information and serves as the 4-H Forestry connection to the larger forestry community. You can find advanced activities, career information and an introduction to forestry organizations nationwide.”

Habitat Studies:

The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern United States. Janine Benyus wrote this book and the companion book: The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Western United States. The line drawings within the books are great and there are lots of facts about the habitats we live in, including the trees.  She includes information on the habitats in all four seasons.

Plants in General:

Experimenting with Plants. Joel Beller wrote this wonderful book on plants with lots of hands on activities for the inquistitve experimenter.

Specific Information about your area:  Can get posters, lists and pictures of native living species, and publications.

  • Nature Centers
  • Museums
  • Agricultural Experiment Stations
  • Parks; City, State, National, and World Parks

Have any other great resources you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

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Grow, Garden, Grow!

hardening plants

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since our first garden plants went into their new home in our garden, and sadly, many of them have perished since these photos were taken.  The seedlings my boys and I lovingly planted and watered and hardened off went into the ground the second week of May.

The next three days it rained, the wind blew, hail fell, and the plants, unprotected by various garden coverings with which it would have been wise to cover them, croaked.

Apparently my tough love approach to gardening wherein the hardiest plants should have weathered the elements and lived on stronger to produce lots of wonderful vegetables and fruit for my family… is just not a wise approach.

On days 4 through 11 I watched the weather-beaten plants for signs of life as it continued to rain with very little sun, hitting the 40’s at night.

On day 12 I bought new plants from the local farmers market, abandoning my “introduce a few new varieties at a time and see how they do” approach, and coming home with tomatillo, red and yellow bell peppers, an indeterminate tomato hybrid, a roma tomato, zucchini seeds, and cilantro seeds.

So far, these plants, well irrigated and planted further along in the season, are doing fine.  As we roll into Memorial Day weekend, I have moved on to plant bed perennials elsewhere in our yard, and am (mostly) confident that something we have planted will grow and thrive.  I take a few lessons learned already into next growing season:

  1. Don’t start seedlings again without letting them grow thicker and hardier first, which means either building a greenhouse or rigging some sort of UV lighting stuff in the basement, plus bigger pots, and who knows what else.  I may not start seeds again soon.
  2. Wait until maybe Memorial Day to plant anything out there.
  3. Follow local tomato planting guidelines, including walls-0′-water and planting horizontally so only leaves are exposed.

Here are some photos, some of commemorative nature..

First, our strawberry plants, which my youngest has claimed as his own, and which are already producing fruit, having weathered the elements with style, and which we are pleased to learn will come back next season.

strawberries

Cilantro, looking rather peaked.  New seeds were sown right next to these now dead plants.  They are supposed to be hardy early season growers here.  Not these ones, though.

cilantro

This is a raspberry bush from a national hardware store.  Having seen what is at the farmers’ market labeled raspberries, I’m sorry we even planted these sticks, and am watching them without much hope for success.  I saved my receipt.

raspberry bush

The northwest corner of the garden, filled with jalapenos and zucchini, right before watering them in.  Too bad none of them made it.

nw corner

Poor little guys, and they looked so healthy, too.

zucchini

These are purchased tomato plants, and some of them are mysteriously bearing yellow leaves now, which google says means lack of nitrogen or not enough sun or water.   We’ve had very little sun, lots of rain, and they went into compost-rich soil.  Watching and waiting on that one.  Not sure, but they are hanging in there and I see little tomatoes on one..

tomatoes

Poor little gone jalapeno.

jalapeno

..and roma tomato.  Were I to do it again, this would have gone in horizontally without so much stem exposed to whip around in the wind.  They still got quite a bit of the crazy wind despite the completely walled garden.

roma

Through the garden gate, with irrigation system and graduated fenceline.  Left side is windward.

garden gate

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge linkup for lots of gardening progress with curriculum to match.

And please, by all means, if you know what is causing my tomato plants to turn yellow- leave a comment and let me know!

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