Encouraging green thumbs to sprout


May 23, 1992|By Donna Erickson | Donna Erickson,King Features Syndicate

Cultivating green thumbs can be a growing experience for everyone in your family this summer. Young gardeners delight in observing the wonder of growing vegetables and flowers, not to mention the bugs and insects lurking between the radishes and peas. Whether you and your kids tend a mini-garden in a planter box on a patio or a large plot in a backyard, there are fun things to do to keep everyone's enthusiasm going.

* Instead of planting the seeds in rows, which can be difficult for little hands, divide your child's plot into several 16-inch squares. In each square, your child can scoop out little holes. Be sure to allow enough room between each hole, depending on the seeds you are planting. (Check the directions on the seed package.) Your child can easily place one or two seeds (large seeds such as squash and peas are easy to handle) in each hole and cover each hole with dirt.

* Preschoolers love exciting plants such as sunflowers. When my daughter was 4, she planted and tended several sunflower plants only to harvest one, bright sunflower when summer was over. We pressed the flower and eventually framed it. It still hangs on her bedroom wall, faded with time: "Britt's Sunflower, 1985."

* Choose fast-germinating seeds. It's thrilling for kids to see seeds sprout through the ground within a few days of planting. Easy, fast-growing plants include marigolds, cherry tomatoes, radishes and lettuce. For fun, help your child plant bibb lettuce seeds in grooves the shape of the alphabet letter your child's name begins with. Water and keep the seeds moist until they sprout. Watch the letter grow as the lettuce plants mature.

To share your comments or ideas for family projects, write Donna Erickson, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.

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