Monday, February 9, 2015

Preschoolers Get Early Start on Growing Season

By Carol Kagan



On Saturday, led by Master Gardener Rebecca Keller, twelve young gardeners gathered with their fathers, mothers or grandparents for a Family-Friendly workshop to make mini-greenhouses for milkweed and sunflower seeds to start growing outdoors now.

The youngsters first learned about how a seed becomes a plant and then nestled lima bean seeds among damp cotton balls in a zip lock bag to germinate at home. Roots and leaves should soon appear and give them a real-life view of what they saw on their handout.

Keller showed pictures of Monarch butterflies and talked about how they need to have milkweed plants to lay their eggs.

She then guided them, and their grown-up assistants, in making two mini-greenhouses using recycled gallon plastic bottles.

During the process the children measured and marked the soil line on the bottle,
gleefully scooped the dampened soilless growing mix inside
 
 
and carefully added both milkweed and sunflower seeds.

Labels were added and the bottles were taped shut with duct tape, the most popular color among those offered was pink.
 
The little greenhouses will be put outside in a sunny spot and watered if there isn’t enough snow or rain.

Keller’s assistant, Master Gardener Cathy Campbell, told them the scientific name for the milkweed they planted - Asclepias tuberosa (Ass-KLEE-pee-us  too-bur-O-suh) – and had them practice a few times in hopes they would still remember when they got home.
 

The workshop ended with grown-ups carrying out armfuls of the plastic bottles. Workshop evaluations completed by the parents indicated this was a successful workshop and there were requests for more tailored to this age group.
 
More Family Friendly Workshops
 
The next Family Friendly Workshop on the schedule is Container Gardening on May 2, just in time to come and plant a pot with beautiful flowers for Mother's Day.
 
Two more Family Friendly programs are
 
Bug ID: What's Buggin' You? on June 13
 
and Cornhusk Wreaths and Dolls on October 17.
 
For information about or registration for any of our classes or workshops, please call 717-263-9226.
 
Also, visit the MG Facebook page for a current listing of classes and workshops as well as upcoming events. Of special note are the annual plant sales in May.

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