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What's a good gardening project for kids?

By By Amelia O’Brain / horticulture columnist
Aug. 22, 2003
Amelia O'Brian is a native of Meridian and a graduate of Mississippi State University. If you have a question about horticulture e-mail her at
Dear Gardener: I am a second-grade teacher and I am looking for a project for the kids to do at school with plants. Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Reader: There are many plant projects that are suited to the classroom. Some old standards are avocados or potatoes growing in a jar. Radishes are a good, quick crop to grow if you are looking in that direction. They are ready to harvest in just three to four weeks after germination.
I also love teaching kids about compost. Take an old aquarium and put some colorful flower waste in the bottom as the first layer. Each week add another layer to the pile.
Make sure each layer is colorful that makes them easier to distinguish. In a few weeks you will have several layers of decomposition apparent in the aquarium. Avoid putting in any type of food refuse to keep odors out.
Another approach to a compost display is to use worms to dispose of refuse. Then in the spring, the worm castings can be added to a garden spot or potted plants.
Dear Gardener: I have always heard about eating rhubarb pie, but my husband insists that rhubarb is poisonous. Who is right? Patty
Dear Patty: Actually, you are both right. The red stalks of rhubarb are used to make pies and other desserts. The leaves, though, are poisonous and should never be eaten.
Dear Gardener: My wife and I have recently moved into a new home. We are planning a garden overhaul in the fall. We have paid a landscape architect to come in and draw us up some plans. We are planning to use some of the existing perennials, just in different locations in the garden.
Most of the things are blooming right now, but I am afraid they will not be once we get ready to renovate in the fall. I am really afraid that I will not know what is what when it comes time to move things. Any ideas on what I should do?
Dear Reader: I would make a map of my garden and label the plants that will be moved. Include details about mature height and flower color. Pictures of the beds and individual plants would be helpful also. Then when you get ready to move things, you will have references handy.
Dear Gardener: I have tons of rose of Sharon seedlings coming up in the garden. I really hate to just pull them up and trash them, since rose of Sharon is one of my favorite plants. Are there any clubs that share plants?
Dear Reader: Ask friends and neighbors if they are interested in taking some of your babies. If you still have an abundance after they get finished, I suggest contacting the local master gardeners or garden clubs. A flier at local garden centers or a spot on a local Web site might be helpful in locating takers for your seedlings. Good luck.