Category Archives: Book and Movie Reviews

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin Book Review

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas is a charming book with several great teaching opportunities.  The story is about Mr. Tiffen’s elementary school class and what they learn about pumpkins, math and other great life lessons.  Mr. Tiffen brings in 3 pumpkins, one small, one medium and one large.  He wants to know how many seeds are in each pumpkin.  Does the size of the pumpkin make a difference?  The underlying theme of the story is about being small.  Is being small a bad thing?  Everyday Mr. Tiffen lines up the class from the tallest child to the shortest child.  The shortest child in the class is Charlie and he feels bad because he is always at the end of the line.

How Do We Count How Many Seeds in A Pumpkin?

Mr. Tiffen wants his class to guess how many seeds are in each pumpkin.  This task brings in the concept of estimation.  He provides a hands-on experience where the children actually take all the seeds out of each pumpkin.  Of course, this is a very messy, slimy job as anyone knows who has taken the seeds out of a pumpkin.  The class did a good job though and got all the seeds out.  Then for homework they had to think about how to count all the seeds.

Ideas on How to Count the Seeds

The children came up with the idea to do skip counting, that is to count by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s.  So they count the largest pumpkin’s seeds by 2’s, the medium’s by 5’s and the smallest by 10’s.  This is a very concrete math lesson on counting, skip counting and how skip counting in the end makes it easier to count all the seeds. If you order the seeds in groups then it makes it easier.  Just imagine if you lose your place half way through and you have to start over.  If the seeds are in groups it is faster to count them again.

The Smallest Pumpkin Has the Most Seeds!

The smallest pumpkin has the most seeds which surprised everyone in the class.  This is a help to Charlie, the shortest kid in the class, because he says, “Small things can have a lot going on inside them.”  This is a wonderful lesson for him to learn!

There are several good learning experiences that are brought alive in this book:

  1. Simple facts about pumpkins
  2. Mathematical concepts become more real:  counting, estimating, skip counting
  3. Children experience the benefits of using these counting methods.
  4. Positive emotional feelings about being small
  5. Advantages of working together as a group
  6. Good tactile experiences as they clean out the pumpkins

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? is a great story and classroom activity for elementary age school children.  For more details see The Pumpkin Project:  Math, Science and Fun.  If you would like to order a book click on the image below.


Deep Rooted Wisdom Book Review

Deep Rooted Wisdom Book Review Lavender CuttingsI would like to share with you many wonderful things in this Deep Rooted Wisdom book review.  Deep Rooted Wisdom is written by Augustus Jenkins Farmer and was published in 2014.  He has an organic farm and nursery where he grows and sells Crinum lilies.  He advocates getting back to the basics and using knowledge developed over time from gardeners.  He feels that technology has taken over our gardening and our wisdom.  Farmer says, “How did we go from cuttings, manure and seeds and fun to this commercial maze?  What happened to trading plants between friends and strangers?  To letting things go to seed so they would come up next year? To watering with a hose?…This book is intended to help us…to find our way back to successful, joyful, simple gardening.” (page 13)

Deep Rooted Wisdom Book Review

That says it all for me.  This is the kind of book that you want to own.  I have checked it out of the library three times and then I purchased my own copy.  There are so many gems of gardening wisdom in this book that I wanted to underline so I could remember them.  And I just couldn’t do that with my library book so I had to have my own copy.  I wanted to incorporate these new ideas into my gardening practice.

In each chapter he features two of his teachers and mentors for us to learn from.  So this book is about lots of gardeners and their tried and true methods. Each teacher offers his/her own gardening wisdom.  There is so much to learn from this book.  Just simple little things and attitudes that will help your gardening.

Growing Bamboo For Structures in the Garden

We had bamboo in our yard thirty years ago.  It was awful!  Pushing up new bamboo shoots everywhere–and impossible to get rid of.  I was really glad when we sold that house.

Then, last summer, I attended a Master Gardener meeting and I was introduced to a retired gentleman.  He was a master craftsman of bamboo in the demo garden.  He created lots of trellises and a very nice fence around the shade garden.  Ah!  I was beginning to see that bamboo has its virtues.

Then I read in Deep Rooted Wisdom that not all bamboo are aggressive spreaders.  There is the kind of bamboo that clumps!  What a revelation!  I could have bamboo in my garden and it would mostly stay in one place. Augustus Farmer says his favorite bamboo is Bambusa Multiplex which is a true clumping bamboo.  His favorite cultivars are Alphonse Karr and Riviereorum.  This is just one of the little golden nuggets of information that fill this book.

Using Legumes for Fertilizer

One of Farmer’s mentors is Yvrose Valdez in Miami, Florida.  She doesn’t fertilize her garden or use much compost.  She uses legumes and their ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil to enrich her garden.  She interplants pigeon pea and perennial peanut amongst her bushes and flower beds.   Farmer asks her why she uses these old methods to fertilize her garden and she says, “Because it works.”  This is something I want to learn more about and use in my garden!

These are just two samples of the great advice in this book.  I am also fascinated by his chapter on Rooting in the Ground.  It seems people just used to stick cuttings in the ground to propagate them, in a very non-chalant way.  I have an old bed of lavender that needs to be redone.  After reading this chapter I am going to take cuttings and plant them next to the old lavender and see if they will take in the springtime.  Apparently this works for lots of people.  The trick is to plant a lot of cuttings because they won’t all take and that is to be expected. See the picture above–I decided to plant some cuttings indoors because the ground is frozen.  I will give an update later if it works.

The book is divided into eleven chapters.  The titles are listed here so you can see what a treat you are in for:

  1. Stacking Up-Growing Plants for Food, Construction, Flowers, Teaching and Connections
  2. Building Fertile Soils-Encouraging a Healthy Web of Life
  3. Stop the Tilling Cycle-Harvesting the Natural Power of Worms and Mushrooms
  4. Watering by Hand-Using the Essential Skill of Observation to Keep Plants Hydrated
  5. Rooting in the Ground-Working With Pass Along Plants
  6. Saving Seeds-Treasuring Heirlooms for Genetics and Nutrients
  7. Handmade Structures-Using Garden Materials for Trellises and Sculptures
  8. Scavenging-Unearthing Great Plants from Many Places
  9. Finding the Spirit-Telling Stories Through Your Garden
  10. Tools-Reviving Essential and Neglected Hand Tools
  11. Pest Philosophy-Taking a Holistic Approach to Insects and Weeds

After reading this Deep Rooted Wisdom book review go check this book out of the library.  See for yourself all the gardening wisdom it has to offer.  If you would like to purchase your own copy click on the link below.  Happy reading, learning and gardening!