Category: Gardening

How to Pick the Best Apples & Pumpkins!

Although scores of people cite summer as their favorite time of year, autumn also is a beloved season. Cool breezes and crisp air seem tailor-made for afternoons spent enjoying the great outdoors. The pleasant autumn weather and awe-inspiring foliage may be the reason so many festivals and outdoor events are scheduled this time of year.

Apple- and pumpkin-picking are popular fall pastimes. Neighborhood orchards open their doors to the public, allowing men, women and children to scour their fields and trees for the perfect finds. Heed these picking tips to make the experience even more of a success.

Apples

Many orchards that have open picking seasons plant dwarf apple trees to make the picking process easier, particularly for young children, so there’s no need to bring along a ladder. You should still be able to find plenty of apples close to the ground.

A good farmer will know when certain varieties of apples are ripe, and he or she will likely cordon off trees that are not ready for picking. Ripe apples will be crisp and firm. Keep in mind that apples ripen from the outside of the tree inward. Those are the ones usually picked first, anyway.

Try to get to an orchard earlier in the season. If you wait too long, the trees may be picked of most of the best fruit. Depending on where you live, apple-picking season may begin in mid-September and continue into mid-October.

Apples can bruise, so don’t toss them into baskets when picking. Also, wait to wash apples until right before eating to prevent moisture-related spoilage. Apples keep best in a cool location.

Pumpkins

Pumpkin patches are often found in close proximity to apple orchards. Picking pumpkins to eat or decorate the home is a popular autumn activity, one that families often enjoy together.

When visiting a pumpkin patch, dress accordingly. That means wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as the patch may be muddy. Layer clothing in case it is a chilly day. Breezes are more pronounced in open fields.

Pumpkins are “long-keepers,” which means if they are uncut or not damaged, they can last for several weeks. This means you can pick pumpkins at the same time as apples. When selecting a pumpkin, look for one that is completely orange. After picking, a green or yellow pumpkin may never ripen to orange.

Bring along a small wagon and knife so that you can cut the vine, if necessary. Pumpkins are heavy, and a wagon will come in handy, especially with youngsters in tow.

Ripe pumpkins should not dent easily. Examine your pumpkin for holes or insects, which could indicate internal rot that greatly reduces the shelf life of the pumpkin. Remember, carving the pumpkin reduces its life expectancy, so be sure to reserve that task until close to Halloween.

If you desire a pumpkin to turn into a baked treat or other dish, you will need a type of small, sweet cooking pumpkin known as a “sugar pumpkin.” The meat of this pumpkin is much less stringy and more smooth than decorative pumpkin varieties.

Autumn is the season for apple- and pumpkin-picking. This is a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors with the family. If possible, visit an orchard on a weekday, when the crowds will be much smaller than during prime fall weekends.


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Recycle Yard Waste Into Valuable Compost

Composting may be a person’s first foray into an eco-friendly lifestyle. Compost is a nutrient-rich natural fertilizer that some people refer to as “black gold.” It can be made from most types of lawn and garden waste as well as some discarded items from the kitchen.

Many people have renewed interest in composting because they understand the environmental ramifications of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. Ground water may become contaminated and certain fertilizers may have adverse effects on wildlife. Compost, a living organism of sorts, comprised of beneficial bacteria, insect life and nutrients for plants, is on the other side of the plant food spectrum. Because it can be generated for little to no cost, compost is not only environmentally responsible but economical as well.

A home landscape can provide a wealth of material to use in a compost heap or bin. Rather than putting fallen leaves or lawn clippings to the curb or in the trash, they can be turned into beneficial material to help keep your garden self-sustained.

To begin, you will first need to determine the composting method that will work for you. Compost can be generated from a pile of material placed in an out-of-the-way corner of the yard or be created in a specially designed, expensive compost bin. Many homeowners fall in between these two methods with their compost systems. Most create their own bins from wood and chicken wire or even use a trash container to contain the compost.

Once the container or pile location is established, it is time to start the compost recipe. In order to function optimally, compost should have an abundance of aerobic bacteria, which will compost the waste quickly. Aerobic bacteria need oxygen and a certain amount of moisture to survive. Therefore, it is important to include materials in the compost that will achieve these conditions. Composters frequently refer to “greens” and “browns” in a compost mix. Greens are fresh leaves and grass clippings and kitchen scraps. These materials will have an abundance of moisture as well as nitrogen. Browns are older, dried out plant material and wood. The browns help create air cushions in the compost that facilitate aeration and also contain carbon. Without aeration, the compost will compact down too quickly, which could slow down the decomposition process. This may result in a foul odor.

Avoid the use of bones, meat or cheese in a compost bin. This will only attract scavengers and may rot faster than it can be decomposed by the bacteria. Also, avoid pet waste or any lawn trimmings that have been treated with pesticides.

Turning the compost will help keep it aerated and will also distribute the bacteria. This can help speed along the composting process. Avoid adding weeds to juvenile compost because it may not be hot enough to kill the seeds and then you’ll be stuck with weeds in the compost — and wherever you place that compost.

Moisture is essential to the compost. Each time you add new material to the compost bin, dampen it. It should be moist but not dripping. Adding a balance between greens and browns should help regulate the moisture level as well. Remember, during warmer months, the compost may dry out more, so you will need to be on top of the moisture levels.

The composting process works best at temperatures between 120 and 150 F. The compost will generate its own heat as matter is broken down. However, the heat of warm months can speed up the process. Novice composters may want to begin their composting in the summer as a first attempt.

Hot composting piles can be turned into soil fertilizer in as little as 8 to 10 weeks. Therefore, plan your composting start date accordingly. Soon after you may have a naturally sustainable garden that produces material enough to continually feed your existing compost pile.


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Help Plants Survive Sizzling Summer Heat

Many people consider summer the most enjoyable time of year, as the summer sun and warm breezes make the season perfect for rest and relaxation. But the months of June, July and August, which are often characterized by rising temperatures and stifling humidity, can be tough to endure as well.

When summer heat becomes especially uncomfortable, humans can simply head indoors and beat the heat in air conditioned buildings and homes. Plant life is not so lucky, and homeowners may need to take steps to help the plant life on their properties survive the summer heat.

· Monitor soil moisture. Soil moisture, or a lack thereof, can help homeowners determine if their plants are struggling to survive the heat. To check soil moisture levels, use a ruler or even your finger, sticking either two inches into the ground where you suspect the soil is drying out. If the soil is damp two inches below the surface, then your plants are likely retaining enough moisture to withstand the heat. If the soil is dry two inches below, then you may want to give the soil a deep soak.

· Keep an eye on container gardens. Containers may have an especially difficult time staying moist in the summer heat. That’s particularly true for containers that sit in direct sunlight. Water container gardens daily during summer heat waves, being sure to adhere to any local water restrictions.

· Lay down mulch. Mulch helps insulate and protect soil during summer, when soil can quickly dry out. When applied correctly (ideally before summer temperatures get too hot), mulch helps the soil conserve moisture and prevents weed growth. Weeds can rob soil of the water it needs to promote strong root systems, which can help plants get the nutrients they need to withstand summer heat. Mulched soils also do not experience the fluctuations in temperature that non-mulched soils can experience during summer heat waves, helping plants to grow evenly.

· Move plants when possible. Plant location can affect their chances of surviving summer heat. Driveways lined with flowers or other plants may look nice, but driveways exposed to the sun can radiate heat at temperatures that exceed the temperatures noted on the thermometer. If possible, move plants to locations on your property that are less exposed to the heat and/or less likely to be affected by the heat. Move container plants beneath trees on hot days, and consider summer heat waves before planting new flower beds.

Summer heat can be especially harmful to plant life. But homeowners can employ various strategies to protect the plant life on their properties when temperatures rise during the dog days of summer.


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Maximize Your Farmer’s Market Trip

Community-based farmer’s markets can introduce shoppers to an array of foods they may otherwise never experience. Farmer’s markets are great places to find fresh, locally grown foods, and many market customers are happy to know they’re benefitting both the environment and local businesses with every dime they spend.

Farmer’s markets can range from the very large to the relatively small, and first-time visitors may not know where to begin. The following are a handful of ways to maximize your visit to farmer’s markets of all sizes.

· Take time to explore. Farmer’s markets tend to have many of the same fruits and vegetables you can find at the local chain grocery store, but farmer’s markets also are known for offering more than what you may find in the produce aisle. Take time to explore the market and you may just find foods you typically only find at your favorite restaurant. Exploring also may introduce you to new foods you may otherwise never have tried.

· Consider the timing of your visit. The popularity of farmer’s markets has increased dramatically as more and more people embrace the concept of buying locally grown foods. While that’s great news for the planet and local farmers, shoppers should keep that in mind when planning their visits. If you love trying new foods, arrive early to the farmer’s market before the more unique offerings have been snapped up. Foods that have small yet devoted followings may not be available in abundance, and you may end up leaving empty-handed if you arrive late. If it’s a bargain you want, then visit later in the day when farmers with substantial remaining inventory may be more inclined to lower their prices.

· Know your seasons. Some fruits and vegetables are better at certain times of the year than others. Freshness draws many people to farmer’s markets, and foods that are in-season are more likely to have that unforgettable freshness than those that are out of season or nearing the end of their season. Knowing the seasons is important for budget-conscious shoppers as well. If you’re shopping on a budget, purchasing foods while they’re in-season may save you some money, and you can always stock up on your other favorites later on when it’s their turn to be in-season.

· Speak with the sellers. First-time farmer’s market shoppers may feel like they’re lost in the woods while everyone else seems to know exactly what they want and where to get it. If you find the farmer’s market somewhat intimidating, speak with the sellers. Shopping at the local farmer’s market tends to be more intimate than shopping at the chain grocery store, and many sellers would be happy to offer you some tips and make some suggestions based on the meals you like.

Farmer’s markets are great places to support local businesses and find fresh foods.


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Dependable Tractors and Farm Equipment + Natural Fertilizer Tips

Today’s local highlight —> We are featuring Antietam Tractor! It is the local spot for trusted sales on both new & used tractors, farm equipment, loaders and more! Since 1978 they have offered dependable quality on equipment, parts and customer service.

Antietam Tractor 

20927 Leitersburg Pike

Hagerstown, MD 21742

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~ Natural Fertilizers ~ 

Lawn and garden enthusiasts know a handful of items are essential to maintain a healthy landscape. Water, sunshine and the proper nutrients all work in concert to promote a healthy lawn. Although nutritional material is inherent in the soil, many gardeners feel soil must be amended with some sort of fertilizer to give plants a healthy boost.

All-natural fertilizers are growing in popularity, and home gardeners have a variety of such products at their disposal. Ambitious homeowners can even create their own all-natural fertilizers from items around the house. Organic fertilizers, or those that are derived from living organisms and not manufactured through chemicals, can provide sufficient nutrients and minerals to grow healthy plants.

Bone meal

In order to store energy and reach maturity, plants need phosphate. This mineral is released over a long period of time from finely ground rock. However, a faster way to supply it to the landscape is through bone meal. Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones that are a waste product from meat-processing plants. Adding bone meal to soil is one of the most effective ways to increase phosphorous levels.

Manure

The waste from herbivores (animals that feed on grass), including rabbits, horses and cows, can make super fertilizers. Some gardeners shy away from manure because they believe it to be an odoriferous, dirty product. The best produced manures are allowed to compost for at least nine months and are mixed with hay or straw. They should not produce an offensive odor and will provide plants with a host of nutrients. Never use manures from meat-eating animals, like dogs, cats or humans. Feces can harbor a lot of bacteria, which can be transfered to the garden soil.

Fish and seaweed

Improving soil nutrients may be as simple as looking to the ocean or other bodies of water. Fish emulsion, a mixture of ground fish and water, is a good nitrogen source. Nitrogen gives plants the energy to grow. Seaweed, which is actually a type of algae, contains the primary nutrients that plants need in order to thrive, including phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium. It also serves as a food for natural bacteria that break down nutrients into the soil, making them easier for plants to absorb.

Worms

Earthworms are vital to soil health. They burrow and wiggle around in the dirt, helping to aerate the soil. But the castings, or waste, of the worms also provide valuable nutrients to the soil. The castings contain beneficial microorganisms from the worms’ digestive system that help break down organic matter into a form that plant roots can use. Many gardeners participate in vermicomposting, or farming worms in order to use their castings as fertilizer.

Compost

Compost can also be used as fertilizer. Gardeners can make their own compost from discarded materials. Compost is one of the most widely used soil amendments in vegetable gardens. Yard refuse, fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and other items can be added to a compost pile. Natural bacteria will slowly break down these materials into a product dubbed “black gold.” Compost can be mixed into soil before planting and used as a dressing after plants have been established.

Gardeners can experiment with different ratios of fertilizer to create a mix that enhances the soil. Test the soil to determine which, if any, nutrients the soil is lacking so the fertilizer can be adjusted accordingly.


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Gardening Pointers for Novices

People have many reasons for growing gardens, and some of the most popular gardens are plots designated for cultivating herbs and vegetables. Fresh produce at the ready is a great benefit of having a home garden, which also allows homeowners to exercise full control over which products to use to grow robust, healthy vegetables.

g3Novice gardeners may not know where to begin when it comes to planting their first vegetable gardens, and such gardeners can benefit by starting small. You may want to begin by growing plants in containers so they are more manageable and can be moved as you discover which areas of your property provide the best growing conditions.

Begin with one or two types of vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers and certain squashes are popular starter plants, as they are relatively hardy. Select only a few plants so you are not overwhelmed with the level of care required to maintain your garden.

Some gardeners prefer to start plants from seeds, but this will require more time and a greater commitment with regard to maintenance and planting. When just starting out, experiment with small plants that are established and already have a good root system.g2

Consult with your local gardening center for more suggestions, such as which soil amendments to use. Plants may require a certain soil pH that can be adjusted for optimal plant growth. EL156274

Additives for Healthy Soil

dirt1Mother Nature provides plenty to grow healthy lawns, gardens and landscapes. But as many homeowners know, some lawns sometimes need a little extra boost to complement nature. Soil sometimes must be amended so plants can thrive. Only after the right composition is created can plants take root and perform to the best of their abilities.

The Colorado State University Extension defines a soil amendment as any material added to soil to improve its physical properties. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots. Depending on what you are starting with, any number of ingredients must be added to the soil recipe. Water retention, permeability, drainage, aeration, nutrients, and water infiltration are some of the things amendments can improve when added to soil.

Before homeowners add anything to the soil in their yards, it is first important to determine what that soil needs. Homeowners may notice if soil is overly sandy or full of clay, but further testing can confirm what the soil is lacking. Soil tests are often available through local cooperative extension offices or private laboratories. Speak with a nursery or garden center about where you can get your soil tested. A comprehensive test may cost between $5 and $10 and can provide invaluable information that saves you hundreds of dollars in wasted plants and materials, not to mention effort. Some labs also can tailor their recommendations based on the type of planting you will be doing. For example, a vegetable garden may need different amendments than a row of azalea bushes.

Organic matter is a preferred soil amendment used by professional and novice gardeners alike. The decaying remains of plants release nutrients that are absorbed into the soil and used by microorganisms and bacteria, creating a healthy environment for plants. Organic material may break up compacted soil to increase drainage. In sandy soil, organic material serves as a sponge to keep water from washing away. Compost and manure are two examples of frequently used organic materials. Both of these materials are readily available at little cost.dirt3

Compost can be produced at home from food and plant scraps. Raked leaves and small amounts of grass clippings can be added to compost. Over time, the decomposition process will turn scraps into a nutrient-rich, dark brown substance that provides many plants with all they need to thrive. Compost is particularly useful in vegetable gardens.

Manure should come from herbivores, or those animals that sustain themselves on grass and other plants. Carnivores can produce harmful bacteria in their waste, which is not safe to use in gardens, particularly food-bearing gardens. Manure can be commercially purchased, or avid gardeners can work out arrangements with nearby livestock owners and farms. These people may be more than willing to give you manure for little to no cost if you cart it away. Dried manure is preferred because it will have minimal odor.

Additional forms of organic amendments include wood ash, sphagnum peat, wood chips, sawdust, and worm droppings.

Inorganic amendments also may be used, and are usually relied on to improve water retention and drainage. Vermiculite, perlite, pea gravel, and sand are examples of inorganic amendments. A combination of organic and inorganic amendments can create the perfect mix for your needs.

Soil amendments typically are added to new and unplanted beds. Peat moss and shredded bark take years to decompose and will serve as long-term amendments in the soil. Compost breaks down quickly and may need to be worked in more frequently.

Experts recommend spreading amendments on the planting bed and then using a rake or tiller to work it in to a depth of about nine inches. Particularly sandy soil or soil with a lot of clay may need more amendments.

Permanent plants, such as trees or shrubs, also can benefit from the extra nutrient boost amendments provide. Sometimes it is sufficient to spread the material over the soil surface and let rainwater and wildlife help distribute it to the plant roots. Otherwise, work it into the top inch or two of the dirt with a hand cultivator.

Soil amendments can be the difference between a thriving garden and healthy landscape and one that has seen better days. GT154054

Garden Decor to Bright Space & Mood

garden3Many homeowners take up gardening to transform their homes with beautiful flowers and foliage, while others do so to yield fresh fruits and vegetables. But gardening can be more than just a weekend hobby. In fact, it may be especially beneficial for homeowners to surround themselves with more plants and natural decor, whether in the yard or in the home.

Studies have indicated that gardening can be good for the mind and body. In addition to improving mood and reducing stress, plant life and gardening also may help people have a more hopeful outlook on life. If reaping the benefit of a beautiful landscape is not reason enough to get into gardening, elevating your mood and coping with depression or illness may be even further motivation to start developing your green thumb.

Home-design trends seem to be following suit, offering individuals more opportunities to surround themselves with potentially therapeutic plants. Explore these emerging and established garden décor trends to try in and around your home.garden1

· Living wall planters: A living wall planter can add greenery to any décor without taking up floor or table space. Ideal for outdoor structures, these planters also can be used indoors if you safeguard against leaks and dripping. A living wall planter is a framed device that houses plants in a manner that enables them to be vertically mounted to a wall surface. While there are commercially available models, you can create your own design and paint or stain it to match the existing décor. Use a soil-free potting substrate to avoid the mess that regular soil may create.

· Combining fish with gardening: Enjoy the best of two relaxing worlds by installing a water feature in your yard. Garden retailers offer ready-made kits that can make fast work of establishing a pond or other water feature in the backyard. Otherwise, there are plenty of water garden companies and installers who can suggest a design and put in your desired water features. Add fish suitable for outdoor life to your pond. These include koi and certain goldfish varieties. Game fish are discouraged because they can destroy pond plants. If an outdoor pond is more maintenance than you desire, consider an indoor aquarium with a combination of fish and live aquarium plants.

· Creative furniture designs: Maybe you’re a person who appreciates the unique and whimsical? Tables, benches and chairs can be built with planting channels that enable you to have greenery and garden décor in one piece. Envision a picnic table with a cutout down the center for a thin row of plants or decorative grasses. This is a project the entire family can get behind, as the more creative ideas the better.

· Improved outdoor lighting: People who like to spend time in their gardens and yards may not want to be limited by sunrise and sunset. By incorporating different lighting sources, you can create a retreat that is welcoming at any hour. Although flood lights and overhead lights can illuminate a space, consider ambient and decorative lighting to create the desired ambiance.

· Functional fire pits and places: A blazing fire creates a cozy spot to gather on chilly evenings, but fire pits and fireplaces also can be used as impromptu cooking spots for s’mores or frankfurters on a stick. You can purchase a stand-alone fire pit from any number of retailers or build your own with patio pavers and fire bricks to line the interior of the fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces require more work, and you want to hire a mason to ensure proper installation.

· Enjoyable yard additions: While plants and seating may take center stage, some people still want to have fun in their yards. There’s an increased demand for yard designs and décor that can put the fun in backyard living. Bocce courts, ring- or horseshoe-toss setups, as well as bean bag-toss boards, can be incorporated into landscape designs, giving you yet another reason to spend a few hours in the great outdoors, where you can experience a few healthy laughs in the process.

Gardening and spending time outdoors are great hobbies and may even boost your mood. Homeowners can explore the popular trends in garden décor and natural elements that they can enjoy inside and outside of their homes. GT154062

Deer-Proofing a Garden

Creating a beautiful and bountiful garden is a popular pastime for people all across the country. It is important to keep in mind that aesthetically appealing plants may be appetizing to area wildlife, including deer. Those who do not want their gardens to turn into all-you-can-eat buffets for deer, rabbits and other wild animals can take a more proactive approach to gardening.

Deer are opportunists who will no doubt see your garden as a salad bar ripe with all of their favorite foods. As housing developments continue to encroach on the natural habitats of deer and other animals, these animals are becoming more visible. Deer may not be able to forage for food effectively in their smaller, natural surroundings, or they may become accustomed to the “easy pickings” they find in neighborhood yards. Either way, you may encounter a deer in or around your area.

Keeping deer at bay involves some work and maintenance on the part of a homeowner. There are safe and humane methods to repelling deer, or at least blocking access to the plants worth protecting. Here are the main ways to deer-proof a garden.

Fence It

Fences are one way to deter deer from entering a yard and dining on your garden. Keep in mind that deer can jump fences that are quite tall, but they have to be especially motivated to jump an eight-foot-tall fence. Still, they tend to be weary about scaling a fence when they cannot see what is on the other side. Therefore, if you are fencing out deer, choose a fence that camouflages the garden well and completely encloses the area to be protected. If you do not want the fence to be solid, consider putting stakes or thorny plants within the garden so that the deer will hesitate to jump into the garden.

Scare Them

Deer are naturally skittish around people, but over time they can become quite complacent around human beings. Once a deer decides that something will not present a threat, the deer can adapt to its presence.

Motion-activated devices may not work, nor the presence of pets. Predator urine is typically an effective way at keeping deer at bay. Bottled coyote urine can be quite effective, although human urine may work as well. Reapplying the product weekly around the plants is a good idea.

Repel the Deer

There are many organic or chemically-based products on the market that deer may find offensive to the taste or smell.

Hot pepper, sulfur and eggs or even the use of soapy water have been successful in certain instances. The use of blood meal or even human hair around the garden may repel the deer and keep them on a different foraging path. However, remember that any deer that is very hungry may ignore unpleasant tastes or smells for a quick bite.

Change Plants

If other food sources are available, there are some species of plants and trees that deer will avoid. Filling your garden with these plants can help you maintain a beautiful, albeit untasty, environment for deer.

When planting annuals, select among:

* Alyssum

* Begonias

* Calendula

* Celosia

* Dianthus

* Foxglove

* Geraniums

* Parsley

* Poppy

* Snapdragons

In terms of perennials, plant these items once, and deer could stay away:

* Ageratum

* Anemone

* Astibe

* Bearded iris

* Catmint

* Honeysuckle

* Lantana

* Monkshood

* Rock rose

* Rosemary

* Soapwort

* Wisteria

Plant these herbs alongside flowers for even more protection:

* Chives

* Eucalyptus

* Garlic

* Mint

* Thyme

* Wintergreen

Gardeners who use a combination of methods to keep deer out of their yards and gardens may have a higher success rate at deterring these animals.

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Get Kids Excited About Gardening

Many adults understand the joy of gardening, but gardening can be equally fun for kids as well! While some adults may feel that certain children do not have the patience or perseverance to see plants grow from seeds to adulthood, selecting plants that are hardy and sprout quickly may be the key to igniting a love of gardening in children.

Choosing seeds that sprout quickly can hold the attention of children who are new to gardening. Many different plants fit this bill. Beans, peas, sunflower seeds, and bell pepper seeds are easy to start and germinate quickly. In addition, many leafy vegetables, such as chard, lettuce, spinach, and mustard, germinate in three to five days. Herbs, such as basil and parsley, also sprout fast. All of these plants are good options for introducing children to gardening, as each provides quick gratification.

It is also a good idea to plant seeds in a way that allows youngsters to monitor the progress of growth. Use a transparent container, such as rinsed-out glass jars and canisters, to house the plant. Such containers give kids an unobstructed view of the process, during which children can plot the progress of seed germination and easily spot root and stem development. Once the seedlings grow larger, they can be transplanted into different containers.

Many seedlings can sprout with water alone. Children can easily grow new plants from clippings of a mature plant left resting in a shallow cup of water, and seeds may not even need soil to germinate. Kids may have luck sprinkling seeds on a dampened, crumpled-up piece of paper towel. Cotton balls also make a good place to nestle seeds. Either material will hold on to water, keeping the seeds moist until they sprout. Afterward, the seedlings can be carefully moved into a soil-and-compost mix. The paper towel and the cotton balls will decompose and add to the organic matter already in the soil.

Edible plants often make good choices for children because kids can reap the rewards of their efforts. Herbs can be sprinkled onto food, or fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers and then served at mealtime. Kids can show pride in their accomplishments, especially if they have tangible results on the dinner plate.

Children who want to try something different can explore other types of plants. Aquatic plants, or those found at the pet store to grow in aquariums, can be easy to grow. They need little more than a container, fresh water and sunlight. Cacti and other succulents are also fun to explore. These plants are quite hardy in that they can stand up to moderate abuse, such as failure to water frequently enough. The unique appearance of cacti make them interesting focal points for an indoor garden.

A love of gardening that’s fostered inside can also be explored outdoors. Set aside a plot of dirt where kids can sow their own seeds and tend to their own gardens. This hobby can help children learn patience and hard work while fostering an appreciation of nature!           GT144069