Tropical South

March, 2004
Regional Report

Give Toddlers a Picking Plot

By the time a child can walk and pick, he can also learn the difference between the violets and nasturtiums he can pick, and the lilies he must not touch. Let the children help drop the seeds in the rows and pull up the biggest radishes. Get a child-size rake and hoe, and give him a plot of his own at an early age.

Don't Squelch the Gardener

Bite your tongue before you criticize or coerce and if your husband accidently cuts down that seedling tree, don't let him see you cry. I lost a lot of good help that way, and they lost years of fun. My own mother used the reward and praise method instead -- 10 cents for every quart of berries we picked -- and she never fussed if the garden plot was lost in weeds by the end of the summer.

Use Gardening Aids to Help You Keep Gardening

Take time off from your garden if you want, but don't let age or infirmity stop you. Put long handles on your trowel and drop seeds through a plastic tube if it helps. Sit in a chair or on a stool, or get one of the garden kneelers with handles to help you get back up.

Plant Something New

There are so many wonderful new plants to discover that none of us will outlive the list. Often you can get a cutting or seeds and try new plants at little cost. But even if you have to buy a large plant, as I did my vireya rhododendron, it may be a great investment in interest, color, and fascination in your garden. It will definitely keep your life and your garden exciting. (See Web Finds for more about vireyas.)

Garden at a Nursing Home

We started a garden at a nursing home by sowing seeds indoors. Watching seeds sprout is great therapy and beats most of what is on TV. Then we transplanted and eventually moved the plants to a small area around the patio. Some who insisted they couldn't help were soon out there weeding. Others sat on chairs and made strings for the morning glories. Even those who didn't garden at all came out to watch, and the patio that had been little used became a favorite spot.

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