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The Garden Gang.

Ever like to dig in the dirt? Why not plant some seeds while you're at it? "It's really a fun thing to do, and if you plant vegetables, you get food from it, too," says Abbie Clark, nine. "If you plant flowers, you get to see the prettiness of it."

Meet the kids of Eden Keepers, a group of young gardeners from Indiana. Abbie and the kids have planted flowers and helped landscape at an animal shelter and a nearby YMCA summer camp. They've also helped plant a vegetable garden and flowers at the house of an older couple nearby, who just happen to be Abbie's grandparents.

"The boys did vegetables," says Abbie, "and the girls did flowers."

It's all part of the Junior Master Gardeners program, based in Texas but now including more than 8,000 kids from 23 states and 2 countries.

A host of activities help the junior gardeners learn about growing things. They can create plantable greeting cards, discover how plants clean water, and even learn about dirt by making "soil aggregates" out of peanut butter, chocolate chips, and cereal.

"It's really fun; we do a lot of crafty stuff," says Jana Clark, Abbie's twelve-year-old sister. "It lets you be outside more," she says. "It lets you learn more and it's fun learning it."

Learning is key, even for rural kids, says Clint Stanton. "We didn't know how to transport certain flowers and that some plants aren't supposed to go next to other plants," he says. "Pumpkins, for instance, aren't supposed to grow next to certain gourds, because they'll cross-pollinate--you'd get a long, narrow pumpkin."

Clint says kids would love gardening. "It's a good habit to get into. It teaches you respect for the outdoors," he says.

Do you need lots of space? Not at all. "If they had a little place by the window, they could grow a little garden in their house," Jana Clark says.

"If they have a balcony, they could have tomatoes to grow out of pots," adds Clint.

Anybody thinking about gardening ought to grab a hoe and dig in, the kids insist.

"I'd say go for it. If you like the outdoors and you don't mind a little work," Clint says, "you're going to get into it."

Growing Your Garden Group

Kids in grades three through five take part in level one of the Junior Master Gardeners program. To join, just get five kids or more, an adult leader, and register for free with the main office online at www.jmgkids.com, or by mail at:
JMG Junior Master
Gardener Program
225 Horticultural/Forestry Bldg.
College Station, Texas 77843


Junior Master Gardener handbooks cost $20, and contain activities for members to work through on their way to being certified as official Junior Master Gardeners.

RELATED ARTICLE: Gardening Season Over? Don't Fall for That!

You don't have to wait for spring to bring your garden to life. There are plenty of plants that do well in the later part of the growing season.

"In the fall you're likely to have a lot more evenings that are cool," says Dr. Kathryn Orvis, a gardening expert at Purdue University and the leader of the Indiana Junior Master Gardener program.

But believe it or not, lower temperatures are a good thing, especially for plants in the brassica family. That includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

"There's something about the coolness that enhances the flavor of those vegetables," says Dr. Orvis.

Check out these growing times and compare them with the first frost map above to decide the best time for planting fall crops where you live.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Crop Planting Time
Spinach 6-10 weeks before 1st frost
Peas 12 weeks before 1st frost
Radishes 7 weeks before 1st frost
Carrots 13 weeks before 1st frost
Turnips 7 weeks before 1st frost
Beets 9 weeks before 1st frost
Cauliflower 14 weeks before 1st frost
Cabbage 14 weeks before 1st frost
Broccoli 15-16 weeks before 1st frost
Brussels sprouts 17 weeks before 1st frost


RELATED ARTICLE: You'll Dig It!

Gardening is fun and rewarding, but you have to work at it. Here are some chores any gardener faces.

* Planting--lots of work, but a good time. "You get to go out in a group and talk to the other people while you're planting; it's fun," says Jana Clark.

* Cultivation--"So if there's a big weed, it won't block the sun from the plant, or the weeds take up the water that the plants need," says Abbie Clark. "It's pretty simple, actually. You just grab the weed and pull it out of the ground. If you can't get it out with your hands, you probably have to dig it up."

* Waiting--the tough part. "Watching and waiting for the plants to come up and seeing how big they're going to get," says Jana.

* Harvest--yummy-tummy time. Clint likes strawberries: "They're really good to have around if you ever need a snack." Jana is partial to peas: "Peas in the pod, I think those are good eating." Abbie likes green peppers: "Because they just taste good."

* Fall preparation--next spring starts now. "In the fall you need to keep down the weeds," says Clint. "Cultivate it; till it up," he says, to fortify the soil for next year's crop.

Hoe-ld on to Your Hats! It's Essay Contest Time

Do you have the gift of gardening gab? Well, we're all ears, and we're not talking about sweet corn.

Write an essay describing why you think gardening is important and fun, and you could win a great scholarship at our Tulip Time Scholarship Games on April 20, 2002.

Mail your entry to Jack and Jill, P.O. Box 567, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:kids and gardening
Publication:Jack & Jill
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:949
Previous Article:Wise Weather.
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