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Kids and Fall Gardening: Make It Fun!

September 14th, 2011

If you’re a fall gardener and you have children, you can provide them with wonderful, educational experiences via your garden and plants. From exploring nature to delving into biology to showing older, budding chefs how to prepare simple dishes with fresh fare from the garden, you can plant nurturing and inquisitive seeds inside your children that can last a lifetime. And with kids getting back to school, it’s also a great way to foster a sense of learning and study.

A fall garden is home to a wonderful variety of bugs that make great biology subjects. When you and your kids come across bugs, you can educate your kids on the roles that each bug plays in the garden. We even have blog posts dedicated to garden heroes and villains (bugs!), including Garden Villain: Itsy Bitsy Spider Mites, Garden Hero: The Green Lacewing, AKA Aphid Lions, Garden Villain: The Leafhopper, and more.

Do you have a child that displays a love for drawing? A fall garden provides the perfect environment for sketching…You never know: you may have a future naturalist or scientist in your family. From plants to insects, sketching has a long history as a means of scientific investigation. Surprise your artistic child with a blank journal and colored pencils for their “field notes,” and then teach them how to observe bugs and plants and jot down notes. From the behaviors of a specific bug to the colors of a Red Express Cabbage as it matures, there are so many sketching opportunities to be found in a fall garden. Another great activity for a budding artist is to have him or her draw a plant as it grows from a seedling to maturity.

If you have a child that loves food and loves to help in the kitchen, a fall garden can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. Teach your future chef how to tell when lettuce, broccoli and other fall garden vegetables are ready for harvesting. When it’s time to make a salad with your home grown foods, walk your child through the salad making process, from harvesting the vegetables right from the garden to cleaning the vegetables to preparing the vegetables for a salad. Talk about our five senses and have your child describe how each one is affected by, say, a head of lettuce. Before you know it, you’ll have your own personal salad maker and a child who is eager to experiment with a variety of healthy tastes and textures.

Kids + Vegetable Gardening + Fun = A Love for the Freshest, Healthiest Foods

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Garden Villain: Itsy Bitsy Spider Mites

August 1st, 2010

 

If you have beans, peas, squash and tomatoes in your garden then keep your eagle eyes peeled for the itsy bitsy spider mite, because this eight-legged arachnid—and more specifically, colonies of spider mites—will feast on plants, sucking the cell contents from leaf tissue.

What to look for:

  1. Plant leaves that look like they have light specks on them
  2. Gray, yellow or bronze colored leaves that eventually drop off of plants
  3. Fine silken webbing on leaves or branches

Life Cycle

  1. Adult female spider mites lay round eggs on bark, leaves or in webbing
  2. Once eggs hatch, spider mite larvae—which only have six legs during their first stage of life—can develop into adults in as little as two weeks
  3. With plenty of food and appropriate temperatures, there can be multiple generations of spider mites per year
  4. Female spider mites may lay 100+ eggs during their short four weeks of life

If you suspect that you have spider mites but cannot see any, hold a white piece of paper underneath plants leaves then shake or tap the leaves. Dislodged spider mites will fall onto the paper and appear as little moving flecks. Spider mites may be brown, cream-colored, green, red or yellow.

Natural enemies of spider mites include lacewing larvae, lady beetles, and minute pirate bugs. Instead of using insecticides in your garden, try implementing some of these natural biological garden heroes.

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