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Gardening With Kids

October 30, 2008

Volume 1, Number 11

Inside this issue…

Gardening with kids


Cultivating vines


Give your mailbox some magnetism


Hello Gardeners,

Getting your children involved in gardening is a way of sharing one of your favorite activities. The garden provides a fun learning environment with the potential to keep little ones occupied for hours and looking after the plants will teach them about taking responsibility, ownership, patience and caring for living, growing things.

Perhaps no plant group is as versatile as the vine. A pretty vine growing up a trellis adds instant magic and beauty to the garden, provides shade and privacy, or a place for children to hide and play. And all it costs is the price of a packet of seeds.

You put valuable time and effort into creating a beautiful garden, and the results are there for all to see. But wait, what’s that ugly mailbox doing out in front spoiling the view? Beautifying your mailbox is as easy as applying an attractive magnetic mailwrap.

Gardening with Kids

When school’s out for the summer the garden is a great place to keep the kids busy. Children love watering plants and digging so getting them to join in your gardening activities should be possible without too much haggling and, if the first experience is enjoyable, they’ll go back willingly on their own.

Start by giving them simple tasks, like watering a small flowerbed, pulling out weeds, or putting leaves into the compost bin, but bear in mind that children aren’t seasoned gardeners! If you don’t want to see your prized perennials pulled out along with the weeds, play a game like “Let’s see how many dandelions you can pick”, making sure to show them what a dandelion looks like.

Give them their own little patch of garden to grow things in so that they’ll take ownership and feel responsible for looking after whatever’s growing there. When picking seeds to plant with children remember that you need to pick hardy, quick growers because if the seed doesn’t grow, the child will be disappointed and could just give up. Good flowers to grow from seed are sunflowers (the flowers don’t come any bigger and brighter), marigolds, zinnias and nasturtiums. You can also get children to grow vegetables, and they’ll just love it when they can pull a carrot out of the ground or pick a cherry tomato. Who knows, you might even get them to eat the vegetables!

When gardening with kids there are a few ground rules to be observed so that the experience is safe and enjoyable for all:

- Never leave a small child alone in the garden, no matter how safe you think it is.

- Lock up the garden shed and keep sharp tools and poisonous chemicals well away from them. Warn your children about the danger involved in using these products and explain to them what the words Toxic, Flammable or Harmful on a label mean.

- Dress your kids for the task: hats, gloves, long pants, sunscreen and insect repellent.

- Watch out for any poisonous plants and berries. Point them out to your children and warn them about putting such things in their mouths.

- Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after touching soil because there can be harmful microbes, or tetanus bacteria there.

In addition to gardening activities you can create garden games in which the kids will learn about nature. Try creating a butterfly garden by planting nectar-producing plants in a warm, sunny spot. Then you can play “Spot the butterfly species.” Turn your kids into pest sleuths and weed warriors: teach them about plants and weeds, friendly bugs and garden pests, and then send them out to find a slug or a four leaf clover.

You can turn the learning activities into a summer school project by taking photographs of your children planting seeds or watering plants and then get them to keep a garden journal in which they write down what they did, what they learned, what they experienced etc. They can stick dried leaves and pressed flowers into their journal, draw bugs, plants and butterflies. It will not only be a great school project, but also a keepsake for when they grow up.
Cultivating Vines

Perhaps one of the trickiest plants to successfully incorporate into the garden design is a climbing vine, but when properly done, it can be the most stunning element in the garden. Vines are very versatile and can be trained to grow up a trellis, twine round a tree, a wall or doorway fulfilling a double function of beautifying your home or garden and hiding any less attractive elements that need covering up. Who doesn’t remember pretty Morning Glory with its bright blue flowers from when they were small? It’s hardy and very easy to get it to twine around whatever gets in its way.

In general, vines are easy-grow and easy-care; however, like all plants, there are a few basic secrets to successful growing. When choosing your vine, pick a species that will do well in the site you have planned for it. For example, climbing roses need lots of sun and if you plant this vine in a shady spot it won’t produce many flowers. Most vines need good soil and won’t do well in sandy soils, so check the soil type of your planting spot to see if it needs adjusting.

If you are growing your vines from seed, you need to start germinating the seeds indoors around 6-8 weeks before the last frost. A good trick is to plant the seeds in warm soil, which you can do by putting the pots on a hot water heater. After germination, put the seedlings in a place where they get plenty of light and expose them gradually to being out of doors for around a week before transplanting them in their permanent location, which can be done when the seedlings have developed a healthy root system.

It’s generally best to plant the seedlings in spring once the likelihood of frost has passed. The vine should be planted at around the same depth it was growing in its pot. Water the vine well after planting and apply mulch, but be careful not to overfeed with compost and mulch because too much nitrogen will cause your vine to produce lots of foliage but few flowers. To finish, prune the plant to encourage branching. If your vine is an annual, it won’t need much pruning as it grows, just enough to keep it in shape but a perennial vine should be pruned regularly in order to encourage blooming and to keep it from getting into a tangle.

Vines need lots of water; however a properly mulched vine won’t need much watering in season, unless it’s growing in a hot climate or sandy soil, as the mulch keeps the moisture in the plant’s root ball. Most species of vine are happily disease- and pest-free as long as you respect their basic growing needs, which are lots of light, space, and avoiding over-fertilizing.
Give your Mailbox Some Magnetism

At Cheap Seeds we sell imaginative magnetic mailwraps that add personality to standard sized mailboxes. There’s a wide range of themes to choose from designed by some of America’s most popular artists. The choice is so great that you can change the look of your mailbox to suit the season, or even your mood of the moment! Themes include Spring and Summer; Flower, Vegetable and Fruit; Fall and Winter; Holiday and Seasonal; Cats, Dogs, Birds, Insects and Wildlife. There’s also a patriotic collection of American Flag mailwraps.


You have received this newsletter from cheapseeds.com, a supplier of large packets of flower seeds for very little money.

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