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Gardening with kids.

Gardening with your child can be a rich and rewarding experience. Planting a seed and watching it grow can fill him with a sense of pride and accomplishment. He will come away with a deeper respect for nature and a better understanding of the world around him.

Spectacular Showings

Here are some easy@to@grow plants that are guaranteed to dazzle your young gardener.

Melons and pumpkins. If you have the space, let your child grow his own melon or pumpkin patch. Or, grow one of the miniature varieties on a fence. As the vines grow, simply tie them to the fence with twine. When the melons reach the size of baseballs, make slings to support their weight as they mature.

Sunflowers: What child doesn't love these golden giants? Some varieties can grow nearly twelve feet tall, with a flower head that measures one foot across! (Sunflowers may need to be staked.)

When the flower heads lose their petals, your child can harvest the seeds. Just cut off the flower with about l P inches of the stalk attached. Hang the flower upside down in a dry place. When the flower dries, remove the seeds. Rinse them in water and allow them to dry. They are good for snacking or feeding to birds!

Cherry tomatoes: Some varieties of cherry tomatoes grow more than five feet. tall and produce an anbulance of deliciously sweet fruit. (Check with your local nursery.) If possible, plant them next to a fence where they can be secured with twine as they grow.

Container Gardening

If space is a problem, grow vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and radishes in pots or boxes.

Grow a Garden Tepee

This is a fun family project that everyone will enjoy. First, select a sunny location for your tepee. Next, construct a wooden frame using one-by-two-inch boards from your local hardware store. Set the boards at an angle, binding the tops together with rope and pushing the bottoms of the boards into the ground.

Once the frame is in place, you're ready to plant quick-growing vines around the base of the tepee. Scarlet runner beans are an excellent choice. Their bright-red flowers are ornamental, and the delicious beans can be harvested and eaten! Plant the beans four to five inches apart for a good covering. (Remember to leave space for an entrance.) As the vines grow, train them to cover the frame of your tepee. Your child will love spending quiet moments in this edible, garden hideaway.

Warning: Kids and Pesticides

Don,t Mix!

Herbicides and pesticides can be extremely poisonous to children. To make your child's gardening experience a safe one, rely on natural methods of insect and weed control.

To keep weeds in check:

* Mulch around flowers and vegetables with a thick layer of grass clippings. This will minimize weeds and hold moisture in the soil.

* Hoe around vegetables and flowers.

* Pull weeds while they are still small.

To keep insects in check..

* Rely on insect-repellent plants such as marigolds, spearmint, and onions. Placed in and around your vegetable garden, these plants will help control garden pests.

* Encourage natural predators. Hang a birdhouse in your garden to attract birds. You can also purchase ladybugs (through the mail) to feast on garden pests.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes tips
Publication:Children's Playmate
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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