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Archives for March 2016

Siskiyou List: Get your garden starts started

Posted Mar. 30, 2016 at 8:52 AM

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Healthy Yards Expo on Saturday will promote greener lawns and gardens

From Johnson County Extension:

The Seventh Annual Johnson County Healthy Yards Expo on Saturday, April 2, aims to help you make greener choices for your yards and homes. This free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Shawnee Civic Center, located at 13817 Johnson Drive in Shawnee.

The expo focuses on Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities (KHYC), a program developed by Kansas State University Research and Extension. KHYC helps homeowners make wise choices on environmentally conscious lawn and garden care techniques. Johnson County

K-State Research and Extension is teaming with Johnson County Stormwater Management and the cities of Lenexa, Overland Park and Shawnee to present the event.

“The expo promotes eco-friendly practices and provides education so that you can do your part for clean water, air and healthy soils while maintaining an attractive landscape,” said Dennis Patton, horticulture agent for Johnson County Extension. “Without proper care the practices that we do to manage our landscape will have an effect on our water supply. Runoff or misapplications of products can move into our rivers, and ultimately in our drinking water.” The expo highlights many simple and easy practices that can be done to achieve a nice yard.

The Healthy Yards Expo will feature businesses, non-profits and tips that meet the program’s criteria, helping Johnson County and surrounding area residents become “greener” in their lawn and garden care.

Expo features

The expo is a great place to get new ideas from experts. It’s a one-stop learning event on green ideas and services.

Visitors to the Expo can:

@ Enter to win door prizes such as compost bins, a rain barrel and three $50 gift certificates courtesy of Family Tree Nursery.

@ The first 100 visitors will receive a free tree seedling, courtesy of Overland Park.

@ The first 300 visitors will receive an assortment of native plants to try in their home gardens, courtesy of Johnson County Stormwater Management.

@ Visit with Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Master Gardeners and local plant societies. They’ll offer expert advice on gardening and plant cultivation.

@ Talk with city representatives to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood and learn about cost share programs for establishing rain garden and rain barrels.

@ Listen to informative speakers on topics such as native plants, pollinators, vegetable gardening and landscaping

@ Visit the soil trailer, an underground experience for young and old.

@ Participate in free, fun and educational activities for children including performances by the Stone Lion Puppets.

Free soil tests

Johnson County residents can get a free soil test, complements of Johnson County Stormwater Management and Johnson County Extension. It is important to know the nutrient levels in order to grow healthy plants and protect the water quality in our local streams and lakes. Bring your soil sample to the expo. Learn how to take a soil sample by visiting the website.

For more information on the Healthy Yard Expo, visit www.johnson.k-state.eduor call 913-715-7000.

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Tourist alert: Lots to see in Wis.


A few of Wisconsin’s best-known beverage makers are experimenting with new flavors.

Wisco Pop! in Viroqua uses whole fruit to add strawberry soda to its all-organic lineup in June. The company began in 2012 with ginger pop (plus honey, lavender, lime and lemon juices). “We like to think that we make it okay to drink soda again,” the product promo says. Available at Whole Foods and food cooperatives., 608-638-7632

Cadence Cold Brew in Madison cold-brews coffee “without the need to add milk and sugar to mask bitterness.” The husband-wife team of Roy LaValley and Jennifer Roth use their new plant to brew three blends, sold by the keg, can and bag-in-box., 608-467-8019

Laurie Pedersen of West Bend in December introduced Moondance Michelada, kind of a beer margarita, after discovering the cocktail during her travels to Mexico. She bottles a ready-made mixer. You add it to beer. Or tomato juice. Or liquor. “No rules” is a motto for this product, billed as a good meat/chicken/fish/tofu marinade, too. It already won a national Fiery Food Challenge Award (third place for cook-off beverage mix)., 262-689-1922

Dancing Man Wheat, a Bavarian-style beer, has reappeared after a three-year absence at New Glarus Brewing Co. Self-guided tours are free at 2400 Hwy. 69, New Glarus., 608-527-5850

Newly released at Yahara Bay Distillers, 3118 Kingsley Way, Madison, is Ginger Lemongrass Liqueur (which begins as a small-batch vodka). The distiller’s 20-some products include a whiskey kit, for aging your own mini-barrel of hootch., 608-275-1050

And from Sprecher are a trio of new brews: Pineapple X-Press, a Belgian-style ale with whiffs of melon, mango and pineapple (only on tap); Grapefruit Radler, a wheat ale with citrus; and Cidre de Pomme, a hard cider., 414-964-2739


Leigh Yawkey-Woodson Art Museum, 700 N. 12th St., Wausau, has won a state tourism award and is one of 30 finalists for national honors.

Director Kathy Kelsey Foley recently accepted the 2016 Arts, Culture and Heritage state tourism award. She will learn later this spring about the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service award.

This is the Woodson’s 40th anniversary, it is the only full-service art museum in northern Wisconsin and it is internationally known for the annual “Birds in Art” exhibition. Opening April 9 is “Making Marks,” avian-themed drawings; other temporary shows include “Capturing Nature: Owen J. Gromme,” in place through Aug. 7, and “Audubon to Wyeth: Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures,” up all year., 715-845-7010

Winner of state tourism’s Stewardship Award is Meuer Farm, N2564 U.S. 151, Chilton. Owners David and Leslie Meuer operate a 150-acre beef and crop farm that makes environmental sustainability a priority; they also won the 2015 Leopold Conservation Award.

Chef Tracy Darling presents four-course and monthly (May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15) dinners at the farm. Each has a theme and includes a farm activity; the cost is $60 per meal. Brunch dates eventually will be added, too, because these dinners hit capacity fast last year., 920-418-2676


Teams from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China and the United States compete Sept. 9-11 at the World Water Ski Show Tournament in Wisconsin Rapids. Each team gets one hour for a theatrical production that involves “all disciplines of waterskiing” – barefoot skiers and wakeboard riders to ballet lines and pyramids.

Originality, presentation and execution are judged. The host is Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers, and competition happens on Lake Wazeecha at Red Sands Beach of South Wood County Park, 7200 S.Park Rd. It’s a $5 ticket for spectators., 715-459-6117


Lobster Wurst returns to the menu at Dream Dance Steak, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, after a three-year hiatus. Executive Chef Chase Anderson in early May introduces his version of the “new Wisconsin cuisine” that a predecessor – Jason Gorman – created about 10 years ago.

Expect a lighter spin, regarding richness and flavors. Gone are the lobster-scallop dish’s mascarpone pierogis and Tahitian vanilla butter. Incoming is a vanilla bean mustard and whisp of fennel and herb salad. I got a taste during an invitation-only dinner to explain the evolution of cuisine at the fine-dining restaurant, inside Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary and began as a 2,500-seat bingo hall., 414-847-7883

BTW: Jason since October is executive chef at Café Calatrava, located in the Milwaukee Art Museum and facing Lake Michigan, 700 N. Art Museum Dr., 414-224-3200


Ron Faiola of Milwaukee introduces two major projects this spring. Out in June is “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round” (Agate Midway Books), his second book on the subject, spotlighting 50 locations not in his 2013 “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience” (Agate Midway).

He’s also a filmmaker whose “Tilt-A-Whirls, Cowbells and Beer,” a look at church festivals in Milwaukee, soon is paired with the coast-to-coast, slice-of-life “Lamerica” at the Wisconsin Film Festival. The two shorts will be shown together at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St., at 9 p.m. April 16, followed by a QA with the filmmakers.

The April 14-21 festival features 158 films, including a Robert Altman tribute and the rarely shown “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a 1984 Bill Murray comedy. See one show for $10, or buy a festival pass to all for $300., 608-262-9009


A new aquarium is home to freshwater species from around the world at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee. That means poison dart frogs, red-bellied piranha and alligator snapping turtles.

Inside the exploratorium for science and nature lovers are more than one dozen aquariums, plus hands-on lessons about sound, genomes and much more., 414-765-9966


April 28 is the deadline to register for “Mess Night at the Museum: The Enemy at Home,” 5:30 p.m. May 5 at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 W. Mifflin St., Madison.

The $30 ticket for this new and quarterly dinner-talk features Cora Lee Kluge of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. Her topic is anti-German American sentiments in Wisconsin and elsewhere around World War I., 608-267-1799


New since October at Wildwood Zoo, 608 W. 17th St., Marshfield, are two Kodiak bear cubs whose mother was illegally killed by a hunter in Alaska. The Kodiak are the world’s largest bears and can grow to 10 feet in height and 1,400 pounds. It is unusual for a U.S. zoo outside of Alaska to house them.

Zoo admission is free, although donations are appreciated to maintain a one-acre woods and den building for the bears, Munsey and Boda. Roam on your own or book a one-hour guided tour by a zookeeper for $44., 715-384-4642


You’ve heard of farm-to-plate dining. Now comes wall-to-plate ingredients.

Picture of 100-square-foot indoor wall of herbs, dressing up a restaurant like ivy on banisters and rafters. Chefs can snip what they need from the vertical garden, right before adding it to your plate.

The concept was floated during this year’s Midwest Food Expo. No takers, yet, but perhaps it’s just a matter of time and indoor landscaping.


You have until Monday (April 4) to tell me about a pet-friendly destination in Wisconsin that is of interest and accessible to the average traveler, or a tourist-friendly business where a pet lives or goes to work with its owner.

One person who spills the beans will receive a one-night Pet Friendly Package at Jefferson Street Inn, Wausau, based on availability. Estimated value is $269., 715-845-6500

The winning essay, as determined by a panel of impartial judges, will be no more than 50 words and sent to (type “pet friendly places” in the subject line).

Photos of pets at tourist-friendly businesses also are eligible and should be uploaded to (the post also should name the business, pet and location). Facebook submissions are pre-screened for appropriateness.

Weekly “Roads Traveled” columns began in 2002. These articles, archived at, are the result of anonymous travel, independent travel, press trips and travel journalism conferences. What we choose to cover is not contingent on subsidized or complimentary travel. Your column feedback and ideas are welcome. Write to Midwest Features, PO Box 259623, Madison, WI 53725 or 

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Rain gardens workshops set

For the eighth year in a row, the city will offer free workshops to teach residents how to improve drainage on their property by planting a rain garden.

A rain garden is a landscaped area that holds rain water runoff for a few hours to a few days using native plants that help the soil soak up more water. After a rain, the water slowly soaks into the ground. The gardens help residents reduce standing water on their property and reduce the amount of runoff that goes into combined sewers, which improves water quality in our rivers.

To register, residents should call 311 to sign-up for one of four workshops: Saturday, April 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Tecumseh Library 1411 E. State Blvd.; Saturday, April 9, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Aboite Branch Library 5630 Coventry Lane; Saturday, May 7, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Purdue Extension Office, 4001 Crescent Ave.; and Saturday, May 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Dupont Library, 536 E. Dupont Road.

In addition, a native plant sale will be held Saturday, May 28, from 9 a.m. to noon at Salomon Farm Park, 817 W. Dupont Road. Riverview Nursery will be selling native and rain garden plants and rain garden kits, and informational displays and experts will be available to answer questions about rain gardens and incorporating native plants into landscaping. Light refreshments will be available.

Residents who own property in the city are eligible to apply for a cash incentive to help offset some of the costs of installing a rain garden at their home. The incentive is only available for those who attend a training session and fill out the application. More information about rain gardens may be found at City Utilities’ rain garden website at

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Peninsula and South Bay garden tour features native plants and water harvesting systems

Click photo to enlarge

If April showers do indeed make an appearance as forecasted, gardeners would be wise to catch the drops if they can.

That’s why this year’s Going Native Garden Tour not only highlights plants that can tolerate long periods of parched earth but also ways to make the most of the water that does fall.

The free self-guided tour on April 9-10 spans 16 South Bay and Peninsula cities and features 56 gardens, all of them showing off drought-hardy species and some even designed to harvest precipitation.

The tour is organized by the Santa Clara County chapter of the California Native Plant Society in association with UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County.

A record number of people took the tour last year as the drought persisted and mandatory conservation efforts loomed, said Madeline Morrow, tour organizer and garden owner.

Homeowners have “a lot of questions about the nuts and bolts, and people wanted to know how to get started” with native gardens, she said. “We’re hoping that people don’t think the drought is over; we’re anticipating a highly attended tour.”

Morrow added that it’s been difficult for organizers to find native landscape designers to participate in the tour who aren’t booked solid, so she takes that as a positive sign people are still taking water conservation seriously despite some good winter rainfall.

Her own front and backyard gardens in Saratoga encompass 11,000 square feet. She started planting native vegetation about 15 years ago, and now her front yard features wildflowers such as golden poppies, a California native bunch grass meadow, pathways, shining red manzanita and oak trees.

The back yard, designed by Julie Orr, spotlights a rain garden that collects storm water from downspouts and a small pond with a rock fountain.

“It’s not just about drought-tolerant landscaping but maximizing the water we do get,” she said. “We’ve been talking about how to harvest the rainwater actively and passively.”

Passive harvesting doesn’t require equipment and aims to create areas such as dry creek beds and vegetative swales where water can collect until it is naturally absorbed in the ground.

Active harvesting includes garden systems that collect, filter, store and reuse water. This may include tanks or barrels with pumps and filters.

The West Valley Clean Water Program–a stormwater pollution prevention agency for the cities of Campbell, Monte Sereno, Saratoga and Los Gatos–will be at Morrow’s home for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. presentations April 10.

An enviroscape of a watershed system will be available to show gardeners how infiltration works, said agency spokeswoman Kathy Ottenberg. Infiltration systems gather and percolate storm water into the ground before it runs off into the sewer system.

The agency has used the same enviroscape model in classroom presentations to teach about pollutant runoff, but with an added twist to captivate young minds. Students drop cake sprinkles and soy sauce onto the landscape and then spray the model with water. The sprinkles are supposed to be litter and the soy sauce represents car oil, and both flow out into the Bay in the enviroscape.

Santa Clara Valley Water District offers a similar demonstration program for cities within its jurisdiction.

Filtering pollutants and catching runoff can be achieved in a home garden many ways, such as by planting native vegetation like buckwheat and yarrow along dry creek beds, Ottenberg said.

Taking it a step further with a storage system, south San Jose homeowners Mikayla and Larry Pratt are actively catching water in four large cisterns that also serve as a focal point in the yard. One 3,000-gallon container and three 300-gallon tanks are decorated with large murals depicting Bay Area scenery. The home will be featured April 10.

The Pratts pulled out the front lawn in favor of native plants in 2010 but held onto the back lawn for three more years.

“Because of the drought, the raccoons were out there digging for grubs, and it looked like they had been out there with backhoes,” Larry Pratt said. Between the bandit-masked creatures and water restrictions, the couple decided it was time to transform the back yard, too.

The tanks went in four years before that, and much of the water saved annually was used to keep the lawn alive. Now, the Pratts have almost 4,000 gallons stored.

The largest tank catches water from half of the roof, and the other three from the opposite slope.

“There’s a series of pipes that the squirrels love; they use it as an interstate highway,” Mikayla Pratt said. “To make sure the tanks are free of debris, the rain gutters were covered with a mesh called a ‘gutter glove.’ “

The yard has attracted passersby who are curious about water-wise landscaping and have admired the variety of California fuchsia, Douglas iris, lavender and other plants out front.

Aside from private homes, schools and community gardens such as the Collins School Garden in Cupertino and San Jose’s Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet School, which demonstrates regional natives and a creek, are included in the tour.

Among them is the 11,330-square foot Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education in San Jose, a teaching garden and nursery founded by designer and conservationist Alrie Middlebrook.

The garden, which used to be a parking lot, features native vegetation and plants that can be eaten. It also highlights a number ways for catching water, such as permeable walkways and a constructed wetland. Middlebrook’s home garden in Los Gatos will also open for the tour.

“We have so many different ways to save water now,” Middlebrook said. “Greywater systems, rain gardens, downspout diversion…so many choices.”

To join the tour, visit and a list of addresses will be emailed prior to the event. There will be plant sales, seedling samples, talks and demonstrations at select locations.

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HOME & GARDEN: From taxing to relaxing — islander’s change in perspective leads to garden overhaul – Vashon

For many people, the form and function of a home’s outside spaces are just as important as the inside spaces.

Whether designed for entertaining, recreation, riotous beauty, peaceful retreats, growing food or any combination thereof, outdoor spaces are often reflections of their owner’s lifestyle and priorities — both of which often change over time.

So what happens when the meticulous, English country garden-style borders you planted to satisfy your need for aesthetic beauty start to inspire feelings of dread instead of joy?

If you’re islander and landscape architect David Pfeiffer, you embrace your new perspective, roll up your sleeves, and two years later, you can’t wait to spend time outside enjoying your new zen garden-inspired bocce court or the restorative view from your low-maintenance, water-conserving lap pool.

“For me, my enjoyment in a garden is now about relaxing, entertaining friends and celebrating the outdoors with as little maintenance and few chores as possible,” Pfeiffer said in an email to The Beachcomber about the change in his personal garden philosophy.

Pfeiffer, who moved to Vashon in 2001 with his partner Daniel, is well-known in the Northwest garden design scene. His projects have included everything from a beach house on Whidbey Island and Seattle’s Canlis restaurant, to estates and private residences from Medina to Santa Barbara, California, and Vashon’s own Kudus House.

For his own property, Pfeiffer’s original landscaping borrowed heavily from 19th century English garden concepts, including the aforementioned ornamental border plantings. But with time, Pfieffer had an unexpected revelation about his meticulous hedges and abundance of plants.

“For the past few years, I began dreading the amount of time and energy we spent tending the garden, as far as maintaining the borders and plantings with weeding, dividing, pruning, planting and constant rearranging,” he said. “It was a diminishing satisfaction return — I craved more garden and outdoor time to just … relax … daydream and play, but the amount of maintenance began to more than monopolize any available free time.”

Pfeiffer noted that it got to the point where just glancing out his windows would create anxiety about his beautiful garden’s growing demands for maintenance and attention.

Determined to change the equation and transform his landscape from the time-consuming decoration it had become into a “more thoughtful, uncomplicated blending of man and nature,” he set to work on a new vision.

The “crusade,” as he referred to it, began two summers ago with the removal of complicated and intricate perennial under-plantings as well as raised vegetable gardens and plant nursery beds. In their place a 60-foot-long bocce court was installed, bordered by simple globe locust trees along the sides. Pfeiffer said that it not only serves as a lively and entertaining spot for friends and guests, but as a strikingly simple and meditative place when raking the gravel court, much like a zen garden.

“We decided that our time is better spent supporting all of the amazing local growers rather than growing so much of our own food,” Pfeiffer said. “So now we have more time to play, relax and rejuvenate.”

Phase two came last spring when Pfeiffer and his partner decided to go ahead and remove all of the high-maintenance, high-water requirement English perennial border plantings that framed the west side of the house and replace them with a 60 by 14 foot lap pool that mirrors the bocce court in its shape and dimensions.

“Now instead of weeding, watering and fretting, we swim laps every morning, stare at the mountains and trees reflected in the water and socialize with friends by the pool,” he said. “It is a beautiful, fun and restorative place.”

Aside from the lifestyle and enjoyment gains, the replacement of plants with the bocce court and lap pool has also dramatically reduced water usage, as the court needs none and the lap pool has a special recirculation system, which means that it should never need to be re-filled. The initial 60,000 gallons it took to fill it translates to less than one year of irrigating all of the plantings it replaced.

Wrapping one side of the pool now is what Pfeiffer calls a “sculptural landform” that was created by the soil that was excavated when the pool was dug and mimics the Olympic mountain range to the west. It was planted with a Washington State Department of Transportation grass, wildflower and clover seed mix, typically used along overpass embankments because it’s low-growing and has low water requirements.

Ultimately, to each his own, and Pfeiffer was careful to point out that this change in his philosophy and priorities was focused specifically on his own property and his relationship with it.

“This rethinking of the garden now creates a stronger connection between the house and the native plant communities in the landscape,” he said. “Less is definitely more, and now the garden celebrates simplicity, proportion and balance, which translates to a newfound freedom.”

To see more pictures, see The Beachcomber’s print or Green editions. To see more of Pfeiffer’s landscape design work, visit his website at      


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NEEF: Spring gardening tips – WKYC

These native species don’t just benefit the environment on the larger scale, however—individual gardeners can realize benefits from using native plants as well.

Compared to non-native species, native plants are less susceptible to disease, and once established, need less watering and fertilizer than their counterparts, saving you time and money. There is a wide variety of vegetation types that fall under the umbrella of native species—depending on your area, this can include an array of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.

Lower-maintenance blooms and greenery aren’t the only the only benefits native plants bring to the yard. This flora is vital for native animals, providing food, breeding ground, and shelter for wildlife in your area.

Many species of animals, including some pollinators, are host-dependent, meaning that they require a specific species of plant to survive.

By picking host plants that are native to your area, you can help support important populations of birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, and enjoy watching these animals all season long. Learn about creating a native pollinator garden (link is external).

Ready to start planting? Check out the resources below to learn more about how to select native plants and get ideas for starting your own garden.

Republished with permission from NEEF:

Follow the Channel 3 Weather Team on Twitter @wkycweather and on Facebook

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NEEF: Spring gardening tips – WKYC

These native species don’t just benefit the environment on the larger scale, however—individual gardeners can realize benefits from using native plants as well.

Compared to non-native species, native plants are less susceptible to disease, and once established, need less watering and fertilizer than their counterparts, saving you time and money. There is a wide variety of vegetation types that fall under the umbrella of native species—depending on your area, this can include an array of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.

Lower-maintenance blooms and greenery aren’t the only the only benefits native plants bring to the yard. This flora is vital for native animals, providing food, breeding ground, and shelter for wildlife in your area.

Many species of animals, including some pollinators, are host-dependent, meaning that they require a specific species of plant to survive.

By picking host plants that are native to your area, you can help support important populations of birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, and enjoy watching these animals all season long. Learn about creating a native pollinator garden (link is external).

Ready to start planting? Check out the resources below to learn more about how to select native plants and get ideas for starting your own garden.

Republished with permission from NEEF:

Follow the Channel 3 Weather Team on Twitter @wkycweather and on Facebook

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Gardening Tips: How To Get Kids Actively Involved

Spring is already pushing its way out whether you are ready for it or not! I am definitely ready to welcome the birds, the buds and the scent of freshly turned earth back again. I’ve been reading lots of gardening tips for getting kids involved in the garden. This year I want to be intentional about getting the kids out and involved with the garden, I hope you will make the same commitment too!

The benefits to getting your kids involved in the garden are numerous and worth the extra effort. Whether you are working on fruits, veggies, or attracting birds and butterflies with beautiful flowers, children have no better classroom than a garden.

Gardening Benefits

Young girl gardening outside

Gardening puts children right in the center of a bright and interesting world that they will naturally crave to know more about. Image Credit: Studio 37 / Shutterstock

What makes gardening so beneficial? Here are a few reasons why I think it is so important to get your kids involved with gardening and how to keep them engaged and enjoying the experience.

Healthier food

One of the first and most obvious benefits is that you are letting your child help you provide the family with food that is not only healthy and nourishing, but unlike most supermarket produce, you can control and keep the pesticides and other chemicals out of it. Got a picky kid? While it is not a miracle cure, one of my best gardening tips is that you will find a child that works in the garden is much more likely to try things that they have had a part in growing.

The Sunshine

Oh the benefits of sunshine and fresh air! Healthy pink cheeks, sparkling eyes and a hearty appetite will all come from getting generous helpings of good old vitamin D naturally from the sun. Children will sleep better with adequate levels of vitamin D not to mention it also boosts their immunity and strengthens bones.


Give them their own little area to tend, be it a spot in your garden, their own square or a container. Watching something that their little hand put in, tended and plucked out will give them an invaluable pride in their work. A lot of kids think that the food they see on their plate – potatoes, green beans, etc. – comes from the grocery store. They do not realize the process behind it at all. Helping in the garden will give them an appreciation for the food that they eat and the work that goes into it.


Build amazing memories and lifelong bonding moments with your child as you dig, mulch and taste the fruit of your labors. Your child will long and fondly remember the times you spent together in the garden working, even if all you had to show for it was a couple scraggly carrots and a giant radish.

Observing Nature

Beyond the benefits of learning about tending a garden, there is no better classroom for a child than a spot where at any given moment they can investigate and learn about soil, trees, bugs, weather, birds, butterflies, bees, ants or a million other things. Gardening puts children right in the center of a bright and interesting world that they will naturally crave to know more about.

Rich Learning Experience

Looking for gardening tips for homeschooling? You can easily turn gardening into a lesson in writing, math, spelling and critical thinking.

Older children can draw a diagram of your garden plot, deciding what to put where, research what is best grown together and what should never be grown together, make a list of the seeds you need and make handmade garden markers. Let your child research your zone and decide what grows best there.

Take a sample of your soil to your local extension office where they will test it and tell you what it needs or what needs to be cut down for success. Kids will find this process fascinating and can also help you amend the soil with natural products.

Children learn all these things and more in the garden:

  • Self confidence
  • Nutrition
  • Planning
  • Reasoning
  • Responsibility
  • Nature discovery
  • Cause and effect

Gardening Tips for Getting to Work in the Garden

Boy watering garden outside

Now it is time to put them to expose them to gardening, and let them see the benefits of applying themselves to their little patch of earth. Image Credit: Ruta Saulyte-Laurinaviciene / Shutterstock

Now it is time to put them to work and let them see the benefits of applying themselves to their little patch of earth. Now that you have them in the garden, what’s next? How do you keep them engaged and excited about digging in the dirt?

  • Start by getting them some tools of their very own and teaching them how to care for and put them away. A small tote, gloves, a trowel and hand rake are good basic pieces. Giving them ownership will give them confidence in their own abilities and tools in their size makes the job more manageable and also safer.
  • Next, let them make some of the choices on what to plant, give them some say and watch their eyes light up. Start with things that have a higher success rate and are known to be pretty easy to grow. How satisfying those little sprouts will be and kids will be very excited about the outcome. Some plants that are fairly easy to grow are things like peas, radishes, cabbage, sunflowers, potatoes, strawberries and pumpkins. You can decide whether to start from seeds or plants. It is fun for children to see the experience from start to finish, so I like to grow almost everything from seeds.
  • Give them jobs like watering, mixing soil, weeding after you have demonstrated, planting, harvesting, fertilizing, re-potting plants, mulching, “stirring” the compost and fertilizing. Work together to plant, care for and finally harvest your bounty.
  • Finally, to keep their intention add fun little vignettes and whimsy in or near the garden. Some fun ideas are a small fairy garden tucked in among the cabbages, a pretty bird bath to attract backyard birds, a shady spot to sit and watch, fun garden markers or brightly painted gnomes.

Before we close though let’s talk about garden safety with a few gardening tips and reminders…

Gardening tips for kids: Garden safety

  • Teach your child to use and store tools safely.
  • Keep sprays and fertilizers locked away (or better yet don’t use them at all).
  • Apply a natural sunscreen before going out and throughout the day.
  • Wear sun hats and glasses.
  • Stay hydrated with water for everyone!
  • Empty all buckets and tubs when done to discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.

What are your best gardening tips for getting kids involved in the garden?

Feature image credit: Jack Frog / Shutterstock

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  6. Click OK

Enabling Cookies in Google Chrome

  1. Open the Google Chrome browser
  2. Click Tools Options Privacy Options Under the Hood Content Settings
  3. Check Allow local data to be set
  4. Uncheck Block third-party cookies from being set
  5. Uncheck Clear cookies
  6. Close all

Enabling Cookies in Mobile Safari (iPhone, iPad)

  1. Go to the Home screen by pressing the Home button or by unlocking your phone/iPad
  2. Select the Settings icon.
  3. Select Safari from the settings menu.
  4. Select ‘accept cookies’ from the safari menu.
  5. Select ‘from visited’ from the accept cookies menu.
  6. Press the home button to return the the iPhone home screen.
  7. Select the Safari icon to return to Safari.
  8. Before the cookie settings change will take effect, Safari must restart. To restart Safari press and hold the Home button (for around five seconds) until the iPhone/iPad display goes blank and the home screen appears.
  9. Select the Safari icon to return to Safari.

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