Let's Garden!

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How green is your garden? Helping a seed grow into a plant and caring for a living thing is a super satisfying experience. New to gardening? We've got you covered with gardening steps, tips, worksheets, and more. Take the plant challenge and put your green thumb to work!

Dig in!

 

Great ways to get your hands dirty:

  1. Plant from seeds: grow a large quantity and get more varieties. Start early in the spring indoors and then plant them outside when the weather's warmer.

  2. Plants: plants go directly in garden after your climate's frost date.

  3. Space limited? Volunteer at a community garden! 

"Think Green" gardening benefits:

  • Grow your own food and bouquets

  • Make compost from kitchen scraps

Garden Planning

Make your grow-you-own dreams a reality: one step at a time!

Along the way, take notes about what you observe and learn.

STEP 1: Dream and Research 

Start by thinking about the kinds of plants you want to grow. Research the needs of the plants and learn how they will grow. Here are some good questions you’ll want to answer: 

  • How much sun and water does the plant need? 

  • How big will the plant get? 

  • Does it need support such as a trellis as they grow? 

  • Look up the “hardiness zone” the plant grows in to be sure it will thrive. Learn the frost dates so you don’t plant too early or late in the season. If you live someplace very cold, you might want to start with seeds or plants indoors and then move your plants outside after the frost date. 

  • Are you planting in the ground or in container?

  • Does the plant have specific planting needs?

  • Consider planting native plants since they're more likely to thrive in your location.

STEP 2: Make a Plan

  • Draw a sketch of the area where you want your garden to be. If possible make it in a place you can see from a window of your home so you can appreciate it more.

  • Spend a day observing how the sun shines on the area. Consider taking a photograph every hour to see how the light passes over the ground throughout the day. This will give you a good sense of which areas get the least or most sun. 

  • Consider containers when space is at a premium. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. Select a pot that is large enough for the plant.

  • Make sure you have a good source of water.

STEP 3: Prepare Your Garden

  • Remove old plants, rocks, and other debris. 

  • Start with good soil. Invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of garden soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you're planning to plant in the ground. 

  • Talk with local gardeners and seek advice on how they deal with undesirable insects and critters. Some treatments, such as netting, wiring and mesh are set up before planting.

STEP 4: Plant and Care

  • Plant according to your research. 

  • Water regularly and with care: water early in the day to avoid evaporation and winds, water directly on the roots, and harvest rainwater.

  • Apply a 2-3" deep layer of mulch around each plant to reduce weeds by blocking out the sun and reduce moisture loss through evaporation so you can water less. You can put down mulch straw, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material. See what your neighbors are using. Ask questions from local gardeners.

  • Bring on the butterflies and bees, beneficial insect reinforcements, to eliminate garden pests. 

  • Deter weeds using all-natural compost instead of poisons.

  • Feed plants regularly. A month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food. Be sure to follow label directions.

Books Read Aloud

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting.jpg
Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn.jpg
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.jpg
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by J
Compost Stew by Mary McKenna Siddals.jpg
Yasmin the Gardener by Saadia Faruqi.jpg
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by
In a Garden by Tim McCanna.jpg
We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines.jp
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.jpg
The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes.jpg
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.jpg
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.jpg

Take the Plant Challenge!

 

Our neighbors challenged the neighborhood to a plant growing contest. We said, "Game on!" You can too: round up family and friends and get started!

 

SUPPLIES

  • Container: needs to be at least 2-3” deep and have draining holes. Options include plastic pots, cell packs, peat pots, plastic flats, yogurt cups, even eggshells.

  • Soil: sterile, seed-starting mix or potting soil available in nurseries and garden centers

  • Seeds 

STEPS

  1. Put a filter in the bottom of the empty pot. This can be landscape fabric or coffee filter cut into a circle or rocks. These filters allow water to flow out freely, air to flow in freely, and keep dirt inside the pot.

  2. Fill the pot with soil.

  3. Per the seed packet instructions, remove the top soil to the depth needed for the seeds to grow. The general rule is to plant seeds a depth two times the width of the plant seeds.

  4. Distribute seeds evenly on the top of the soil.

  5. Cover the seeds with the removed soil.

  6. Gently water the container with room temperature water until water starts to drip from the drain holes in the bottom.

  7. Place the pot in a spot that will get sunlight for most of the day. It can be inside or outside. If you have one, put a rock on top of the soil.

  8. Water the pot every day until small leaves appear using room temperature water. On a calendar, make a check on dates you water the soil. Once seedlings are growing, it’s important to reduce watering so soil partially drys, but don’t let seedlings wilt.

  9. When small leaves appear decrease watering to once every fews days or when the soil is dry. Put an "X" on the calendar dates that you water the plant.

 

Optional:

  • Spray leaves with water using a spray bottle in the morning and night.

  • Give your plant positive vibes.

Your soil is dry if:

  • ​The best way to tell if plants need watering is to put your finger 1"  into the soil. If it's dry, it's time to water

  • If you lift up the rock and it’s dry.

 

Observe and note:

Spend time with your plants. Write your observations about color, height, shape, number, angle, or anything you find interesting.

Bring nature indoors!

Succulents have a tremendous variety of colors, textures, growth habits, and forms. Ease of propagation, drought tolerance, and low maintenance make these plants the perfect choice for starting your garden!

Tips for Growing Succulents:

  1. It's important to use a pot with holes on the bottom. Pots without drainage holes can leave roots sitting in damp or soggy soil, greatly increasing the risk of rot or overwatering. 

  2. A fast draining mix is key. An ideal potting mix for succulents drains freely and dries quickly. The quickest and easiest way to get a faster draining mix is to combine a basic cactus & succulent soil with perlite in a 1:1 ratio.

  3. Dry thoroughly between waterings. "Succulents" are "plants with fleshy tissues that conserve moisture." They have a great ability to store water within their leaves and stems. Learn to recognize what your plant looks like when it's thirsty. When in doubt, don't water! Signs of thirst can include: wrinkled leaves, thinning leaves, curling leaves, rosette forming succulents closing inwards, or bushier succulents leaves dropping and feeling thin. 

  4. Part of the fun of succulents it observing how they grow and propagate. You can grow many succulents with just a single plant leaf!

Indoor succulents 2
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The Cicadas are Coming!

  • Brood X is one of the largest groups of periodical cicadas, and also one of the most broadly spread. These cicadas will emerge in 15 states across the Midwest and along the east coast of the United States. In some of the densest areas, there could be millions of the red-eyed bugs crawling out of the ground per acre!

  • The cicada has the longest lifecycle of any insect. Some broods are on a 13 year cycle, while 3 others, including Brood X, emerge every 17 years. They live those 17 years about a foot or two underground as wingless nymphs, feeding on the sap of tree roots. When they are mature, a biological clock triggers the once-in-a-generation emergence.

  • Cicadas are impressively loud, but only the males produce the ear-splitting sounds in their efforts to attract a mate. To produce the signature cicada chirp, the males contract two ridged membranes on the side of their abdomen. Those sounds are amplified by their almost-hollow abdomens. If a female in interested, she'll click her wings in return. 

  • Cicadas are not picky and have been documented as eating more than 200 different species of tree. Other wildlife benefits from the mass emergence of cicadas, and there's often a boost in animal populations in the year after a brood’s emergence.

Watch Return of the Cicadas video.

Want to know about the food you eat? 

 

Check out PBS's

True Food

with Nicole

Cotroneo Jolly

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Garden Quotes

  • May your garden be your happy place!

  • A garden is a friend you can visit anytime.

  • Don't go through life. Grow through life.

 

  • Gardening adds years and life to your years.
     

  • Life begins the day you start a garden. 

  • Plant it for the Planet.

  • To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. – Audrey Hepburn