Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Easy math

Give the children something to enjoy on hot afternoons at home or after school. Set up a kid-friendly tipi made of bean sticks or tomato poles. Push poles into the ground at least a foot for stability and arrange in a circle. Tie the tops together with wire and wrap the cone-shape with string trellis. Then seed sunflowers around and vines to run over it. Mark the poles in one foot increments and chart its growth for a painless math lesson.

Good watering

Put a bored ten year old in charge of watering container plants in saucers on the deck. Instruct him or her to water so it fills and runs out through the bottom of the pot. The payoff for the child is the bonus task: he gets to use your garden turkey baster to suck the water out of the saucers to prevent reabsorption and tip burn. You don't use the same baster at Thanksgiving, do you?

Seeding for more

If you have black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers, you have a quick and easy gardening project for beginners of any age. Let some flowers drop their petals and set their seeds, then clip the stems. It's a simple matter to crush and smush the cones to scatter seed- even hands troubled by arthritis can do this task. Encourage a walk to sow seeds in any available garden bed. Scatter seed, and then press gently into the soil with a hand or even a toe. You'll be surprised how many come up and where. But don't worry- transplanting makes another great project.

Dunk time

If you know any adults who are not aware of the dangers of mosquitoes and West Nile virus, teach them along with your children. Put children in charge of dropping mosquito dunks into water features, including those you didn't build, such as water standing in ditches after heavy rains. The commercial dunks are nontoxic to humans, but lethal to our worst pests, the carriers of West Nile virus. Use them!

More Veggies

The summer continues, with hot nights and occasional storms, yet it's time to plant more vegetables. If you have had trouble finding fall tomatoes in past years, grow your own. Suckers on spring tomato plants root readily in water for planting in about two weeks. A steady water supply is essential for growing vegetables anytime, but plan to provide a bit of shade, too. New transplants and seedlings benefit from a screen lean-to or a leafy branch placed between those babies and the western sun.

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