Lets Garden with Children

 

Our Garden Club members are encouraged “to help grow gardeners”.

Children are natural gardeners, are curious, like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt. Gardening gives children a chance to learn an important life skill, one that is overlooked in standard school curriculum. A child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life firsthand. It usually sparks children to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? These questions challenge adult mentors to think about their gardening practices, helping children learn gardening principles & environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.

 

Children may be more interested in tasting and trying the foods they grow which will train their taste buds to enjoy the bounty of their garden. The self-esteem a child gets from eating a perfect tomato that he grew himself is priceless.

What to plant

Although there are many crops suitable for the young gardener, here are some suggestions which are relatively easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.

Sunflower

 

A must for a child’s garden. Plant just a few, since they take a lot of room. Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, become a small seedling in 2 weeks, and should be 2′ tall in a month. In 8 weeks, the buds will flower revealing hundreds of seed kernels. Be sure to grow ‘confectionery’ sunflowers, the type grown for food. They will dry naturally in the late summer sun; the seeds, rich in protein and iron, can be roasted for snacks. Save a few for the birds and for next summers’ planting.

Lettuce

A quick and reliable crop to give the child fast results, and also a good way to interest kids in salads. Lettuce likes part shade; keep soil moist especially during the first two weeks. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days; growing season is 40-50 days. You can grow ‘head’ (space 8″ apart) or ‘leaf’ (space 4″ apart) varieties; the leaf varieties will mature sooner, about 30-35 days.

Radishes

Quick results for the young gardener. Radishes germinate in 3-10 days, and have a very short growing season of 20-30 days. They can be planted closely, 4-6″ apart. Plant in cool weather for a mild radish, or hot weather for a hotter radish.

Snow peas

A quick-growing early crop, and fun for kids to eat right off the vine. They take about 10 days to germinate and mature in about 60 days. Peas prefer cooler, partially shaded locations in the garden; they should be sown closely, about 1″ apart at most. Snow peas are popular because the pod is edible and if they are a dwarf plant they can be grown without a trellis.

Cherry tomatoes

Gotta have ’em! These may be the most fun crop for a child. Plant in full sun and use seedlings rather than planting from seed. Put in a 2′ stake alongside each seedling; they need to be tied loosely to stakes as they get taller. Add lots of compost. Water at ground level, trying to keep leaves dry. Growing season is 50-75 days. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in containers.

Nasturtiums

These flowers are easy to grow and yield results quickly, which encourages the young gardener. Nasturtiums bloom about 50 days after the seeds are planted, with orange, yellow and red flowers. They prefer sunny, dry locations and do well in poor soil. Choose the shorter varieties for garden beds. Nasturtiums are also pest resistant, which ensures a successful planting. The flowers are also edible, and can be used to add colour to a fresh garden salad.

Bush beans

Fast, easy, high yield and, because they do not grow tall, they are easy for kids to harvest. Bush beans germinate in 4-8 days, and mature in 40-65 days. It’s best to plant a small patch, then another in a few weeks. This will extend the harvest. When choosing seeds, select the “low bush” varieties because these will be easier for children to harvest. Plant closely spaced, about 4″ apart. Grow in direct sun; water the soil but try to keep the leaves dry. Bush beans don’t need poles or trellises to grow.

 

Scarlet Runner Beans

Fun, especially if they are grown on a T P support frame and the large colourful seeds need to be planted 2 to 3 inches apart to minimize overcrowding and should be planted in soil that is high in organic matter and in full sun. They will twine around the support and anything close by. The blossoms are especially attractive to pollinator bees and hummingbirds.

Carrots

Seeds can be sown directly into soil; carrots prefer cooler temperatures. They can be slow to germinate, so be patient. Carrots will mature in about 60 days. The soil should be free of rocks and easy for the carrot to grow ‘down’. Keep well-watered and thin to every 3″ because crowding will produce foliage but no root. Small varieties are recommended for children, as they’re easier to grow and more fun to eat.

Pumpkin

2017 Oct 9th 2017 IMGP6127

 

 

A ‘must’ for a child’s garden. Plant seeds in a small hill; poke three holes in the hill and put one seed in each hole. Seeds will sprout in about 1 week; after a few days, vine leaves begin to form and creep along the ground. Once there are 3 pumpkins on the vine, pick off any new blossoms. Pumpkins take 80 – 120 days to harvest: it’s ready when it feels hard on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped. Seeds can be dried to eat, or saved for for the birds, and the pumpkin for carving.

 

 

Tips for gardening with children

Give them their own garden beds. Whether you use raised beds, containers or ground plots, be sure to give each child his or her own separate plot. Keep it small, very small for young kids. Put their plots right in the middle of the action, with the best soil and light. Set them up for success.

 

Give them serious tools. Cheap plastic child’s gardening tools are worse than no tools at all; they break easily and frustrate the user. With some garden tools, like a hoe or spade, you can easily saw the handle shorter.

 

Engage them through the entire process, from seed to table. Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. They will learn that gardening can be fun, but far more than idle play; they are contributing to the family well-being. Besides planting and nurturing their garden beds, be sure they alone do the harvesting and preparation of their crop for the table, no matter how modest the offering.

 

Cheat a little. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to help out a little ‘behind the scene’. Not every garden task is pleasant, and the child may not be ready at all times for all chores. You may need to go out in the evening to pick a few slugs off the lettuce, or be the one to run out and move the sprinkler. They don’t have to know about every little help you offer – the child’s ‘ownership’ of the plot is the main thing.

Show off their work. When giving ‘garden tours’ to friends, be sure to point out the children’s garden beds. Take photos of them in their gardens and of their harvest. Teach gathering  and arranging skills.

 

The attention given to their work is the best motivator for children to stay involved with a project.

So why encourage children to garden ? The rewards are:

 

An environmentally aware community member… A gardener for the future … A garden club member … and much more.

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Posted in Children, Environmental issues, Gardening, Seasons | Leave a comment

I Need My Garden More Than My Garden Needs Me

Contributed By Jocelyn Cameron

Some people say that having a garden is too much work. After all, you need to plant it, weed it, water it, and prune it. Who has time for that?

Well, to be honest, I do. In fact, I need to make time for it because of the benefits. How else could I know that spring is here? The crocuses tell me, the forsythia announces it with the quince trees to back them up. Before long, I know its mid-July as the ditch daylilies raise their heads and other cultivars display their ravishing colors. Who would want to miss that? As the mint creeps through the beds, my taste buds come to life. Ever had an outdoor shower with climbing roses scenting the air? Then fall dares to rival the summer’s displays as tri-color leaves wave in the cooling breezes.

I would be remiss not to mention the exercise my garden provides all season. If I don’t manage to get all the weeds in the spring, they greet me almost under every plant all summer. I must dive in and remedy the situation, my arms and legs thanking me for the stretches required. (Well, sometimes they do complain!) Without this activity, I must confess I would miss much of the beauty that lies hidden among the bushes. Never would I notice that anemone standing tall all alone or catch a rosebud about to open. Of course, you don’t want to miss the daylily blooms—you’ve only got a day to do it before they close up their glory in deference to another.

Ah, summer. Now I can create floral designs using my carefully selected (unless they happened to be on sale and could still work for me) garden plants as inspiration. Will I pair my cool greens with white Shasta daisies or should I match yellow and green limelight with my common yellow daylilies? Don’t forget to add some ribbon or zebra grass to help define the shape. I can rely on moss or creeping oregano to cover up the bald spots. If featuring burgundy, euphorbia makes an excellent filler. You see, the possibilities are stunning. And feeling the plant material through my fingers adds pleasure hard to define. Serendipitously at the finish, I may discover a perfect shape, that offers a whimsical finale to the whole design. Even in cleaning up, I get to “re-enjoy” the process as I toss unused bits into the compost. Now that’s what I call an pleasurable afternoon. You can, no doubt, imagine the buzz that comes from repeating this process all day in preparation for a flower show. Exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time.

Then, after garden chores, its time to find an Adirondack chair with its wide-open, comforting arms.

DSC_1377 - editRemember to get a glass of cool lemonade first, though, so that it can cool your insides as much as a shady spot cools the outside—a perfect time to give thanks for both garden and good health. Yes, I need that. In fact, I planned for it—much of the winter. Winter gives me time to anticipate next spring’s resurrection. Even in those short, dark days,

I can still take delight in those seedy-headed grasses that escaped fall pruning as they bow down in deference to the inevitable nor’easters.

Yes, my garden can take up much of my time. As you read between the lines of this article, however, did you catch the psychological benefits it has provided? Consider these: peace (nothing like solitude under the pines to make this happen); calm (the rustling grass sure trumps the sound of a cell phone); decompression (with bare hands, get those lumps out of the soil); confidence (that seedling finally sprouted roots or I guess I really can grow orchids); provides opportunities to make friends and share experiences (join a garden club); rest (drop into a garden swing when finished weeding that stubborn patch), satisfaction (you got rid of that goutweed!); gratification from not overspending (check out those spring plant sales), hope for the future (next year I’ll plant something different in those containers); anticipation (will that freshly planted annual survive?); appreciation of beauty (hard to beat the Stargazer lily); growth in patience (next year don’t plant pansies in a hot location), perseverance (so what if the deer got those bulbs, plant daffodils next time), faithfulness (water those containers!) and finally, confidence (my garden is ready for the garden-tour crowd. OK, that may be pushing it a little, but you get my point).

 

By now, you can see that I really do need my garden. And, it has always responded amiably to my attention, so I plan to continue seeking out its companionship. For me, garden time surpasses screen time like fresh flowers surpass silks. Best of all, perhaps, gardens require no apps—at least for now.

 

Posted in Forsythia, Gardening, Hemerocallis | 2 Comments

Storms Bring Challenges & Blessings

Gardeners everywhere are sometimes challenged and other times blessed by what nature and the environment delivers.

The South shore of Nova Scotia experienced an intense storm on January 4th that left not only coastal damage but also what many refer to as “ Gardeners Gold”. As we were in “Storm watch Mode”,  I thought of all the seaweed that would be torn, tossed and piled on our shorelines.

In May 2017, Betsy and Bob from Bear Cove Resources explained the Storm-cast process and production of an excellent, odour free fertilizer/soil conditioner to use in our gardens and on our indoor plants.

The following are a few shots of the ocean and coastline the day following the storm. The piles of “Storm-Cast Seaweed Mix” along the coast was impressive as were the pounding seas that created the impressive views and results.

Gardens that receive a gift of seaweed compost will flourish this coming gardening season.

Click on picture for slide show:

Posted in Environmental issues, Gardening, Seasons, Seaweed, Weather | 7 Comments

Happy Holiday Season from Chester Garden Club

 

Chester garden club members and guests gather the third Monday each month and begin each meeting with a speaker or activity of interest. Our November, 2017 meeting included the later with early preparation of festive seasonal arrangements for the holiday. Each member provided enough materials for themselves and some to share. The tables overflowed with beautiful greenery and complementary decorations. Amidst the conversation, advice and laughter, working together and helping each other make choices, we all completed our arrangement to take home or gift to another. There were some that were donated to the seniors at Shoreham Village, a welcome addition to the seasonal decorations for our community senior residents.

Click on any picture for slide show:

 

 

A week later, Chester Garden Club’s participation in annual Village Christmas decorations, the bandstand received it’s yearly dressing up with greenery and lights.

November 27th 2017 image1 (2)

 

Bringing our 2017 garden club year to a close, and with excellent weather, our annual Pot Luck Supper was again held at Chandler Cove. Thanks, especially to Kay and Sheila and the set up crew. In beautifully decorated surroundings, members and guests enjoyed each others company, conversations and were treated to a scrumptious variety of tasty dishes.

Click on picture for slide show.

 

 

Warm wishes to all for a Holiday Season filled with Peace, Contentment, Love & Laughter.

We are looking forward to welcoming old and new gardener members to Chester Garden Club in 2018.

Posted in Community Service, Evergreens, Floral arrangements, Garden Clubs, Gardening, Seasons | Leave a comment

Groaning in the Garden

Contributed by member: Jocelyn Cameron who says:

“I’ll admit I wrote this”

Sometimes you just have to chill after gardening and think outside the box. Out there, you can tickle your funny bone and watch what happens. Here’s a glimpse:

  1. Any bee can balm.1 Monarda, Bee balm IMGP5675

  2. I sedum before.2 Sedum, Stonecrop 006

  3. I aster but she said no.3 Aster 020

  4. Why don’t trumpet vines make any sound?4 Campsis radicans, Trumpet-ground-cover

  5. Who punched those black-eyed susans?

     

  6. Why aren’t burning bushes hot?

  7. Globe thistles like to travel. Who knew?7 Echinops, Globe thistle MGP3573

  8. Hollyhocks anything she finds.8 Alcea, Hollyhock 010

  9. Spirea can’t see for looking.9 Spiraea IMGP2521

  10. Why don’t fleece flowers ever get sheared?10 Persicaria affinis, Fleece Flower Jocelyn

  11. Lamb’s ear can’t hear anything.11 Stachys byzantina, Lamb's Ears Jocelyn DSC02329

  12. Ribbon grass never made a bow.12 Phalaris arundinacea, Ribbon Grass

  13. Why is Zebra grass neither black nor white?13 Miscanthus sinensis, ‘Zebrinus Zebra-Grass

  14. Has loosestrife ever caused trouble? (rhetorical question)14 Lysimacha punctata, Yellow Loosestrife

  15. Why doesn’t goutweed affect your feet?15 Aegopodium podagraria, Goutweed 027

  16. Ever see dandelions caged in the zoo?16 Taraxacum, Dandelion IMGP3519

  17. Ever see a weeping willow cry?

    17 Salix babylonica, Weeping Willow

  18. Has crooked willow ever done anything wrong?18 Salix matsudana, Curly Crooked Corkscrew Willow Jocelyn DSC02325

  19. Rosemary won’t answer if you call.19 Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosemary, Hes's

  20. Joe Pie weed makes me hungry.20 Eutrochium, Joe-pye weed IMGP5349

  21. Ever hear a valerian speech at a convocation?

  22. Sit astilbe as you can.22 Astilbe 039

  23. Everyone likes the limelight sometimes.

    23 LadyLimelight

  24. It’s daphne to stop before you finish.24 Daphne 2010 003

  25. He never scratched so much as when he had chives.

  26. Some roses have large hips.26 Rose hips IMGP3992

  27. How can mint hold onto a spear?

    27 Mint

  28. Irises will never open their eyes.28 Irises 035

  29. Hit your head and you’ll be at risk of artemesia.

    29 Artemisia

  30. Take someone hosta and you’ll be in trouble.30 Hosta IMGP3808

  31. Have you heard the Bells of Ireland ringing at weddings?

I know yew can think of more examples, but it’s thyme to quit before we all go daisy!Shasta Daisy

Hope this makes your day a little more holly.Canadian Holly, Ilex vertcillata

Keep sharp!

Thanks to Jocelyn, Jen, Marion & Brenda for pictures.

 

 

Posted in Berries, Daphne, Day lilies, Gardening, Roses, Wildlife | 3 Comments

It’s November and …

It’s November and, although we have had two heavy frosts and it is cool now, up until a few days ago gardeners have been amazed by the warm temperatures here in the Chester and surrounding area.

The following are few pictures that were taken during the last couple of weeks, some as late as the 10th of November.

Summer pots still showing off.

The last of the fragile produce, only greens left in the vegetable garden.

Winter arrangements in the near future.

11 Nov 2nd IMGP6222

We can now continue preparation for winter in our gardens, enjoy the birds as they make ready for winter and settle in with a good gardening resource for next springs plans. Fall temperatures have arrived.

 

Thanks to Kay B. and Brenda H. for the photo’s.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Annuals, Autumn, Autumn colours, Berries, Birds, Floral arrangements, Gardening, Seasons, Vegetables | 4 Comments

Putting Our Gardens to Bed

This is a beautiful time of year – leaves falling to the ground in colors of orange, red and yellow. Birds and other little critters running around doing their last minute preparations for winter, our greenhouse doors are closed and life begins to slow down just a little.

 

 

Herb Fraser, long time member and experienced gardener in many parts of the world reminded us that each zone and each garden is individually different and requires a plan. When we get our Zone 6a Chester Gardens gardens ready for winter they are prepared for an even more productive spring.

 

IMGP6154

Herb suggested this is a good time to take advantage of sales at local nurseries. The root bound plants can be teased and trimmed, possibly divided, watered well and planted for next seasons show.

We were reminded not to fertilize after mid August or cut back perennials too early as even though plants may appear dormant as fluctuating temperatures may stimulate the below surface activity and plants will produce new growth which will not be winter hardy. It is possible to divide and transplant perennials before the first heavy frost remembering they usually require about 4 to 6 weeks to settle in.

Following a couple of hard frosts, usually late October, early November in the Chester area, ensure that plants are well watered, especially evergreens which provide not only backdrop for our summer show but seasonal distinction and wind protection for our properties.

Thinking about our own gardens, Herb encouraged us to concentrate on clearing debris, checking for pests, damage and disease. It is a good time to weed, pull annuals, to compost any plants without disease, to save seeds such as Marigold, Zinnia, Sweet Peas, Morning Glory, Scarlet runner and to cut back to three or four inches perennials such as Siberian and Bearded Iris, Sweet Peas, Crocosmia, Bee balm. If you don’t cut your plants right to the ground, their stalks will hold new spring growth straighter.

Some gardeners choose plants to add visual interest to their gardens in winter and so leave some standing. Plants, including perennial grasses,ferns and sedems have a neat look, and the seeds of Joe Pye, echinacea and rudbeckia will attract and feed birds all winter.

We were reminded not to cut hardy geraniums or Hellebore.

Plant bulbs like daffodils and garlic now according to directions. The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall.

One thing to always keep in mind is to remember it is all about soil. After the first hard frost, make big efforts to increase soil fertility by providing a fresh layer of mulch. Feeding and amending your soil with organic matter through the use of mulch, compost and other available materials (shredded leaves or seaweed, which is full of micronutrients that enrich the soil and feed the plants. And it’s free!) to increase the availability of the minerals in the soil and create more spaces for air and water will benefit next season’s production & show. Don’t put all those leaves in bags. Instead, run the lawn mower over them and use them as mulch or in your compost and the worms will help them enrich the soil. Also, now is the time to spread lime on lawns and gardens.

What about garden ponds/pools? Herb asked Joan C. to help members understand the winter care needed for garden pools. Joan reminded us that Goldfish and Koi are very hardy and can handle winter water temperatures which means they can survive in the pond during the winter as long as the pond is three feet or more deep, it doesn’t freeze solid and they have adequate water quality and oxygen.

Herb advised us to clean and service our gardening tools so they are in good condition for storage and to begin using next season, especially if we run out of time or the weather becomes challenging.

As a final note, we were encouraged to remember winter brings opportunities to enjoy warmth in front of our wood stoves or fireplaces planning for next gardening season.

Following the presentation and before the regular meeting there was time to view the artistic fall displays, for conversation and a snack.

 

 

Posted in Autumn colours, Garden Design, Gardening, Seasons, Seeds, Trees, Wildlife | 3 Comments