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Planting the gardening seed young

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Kendra Bowlby signed up for the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society’s Junior Gardener program when she was new to Tillsonburg and in Grade 3 at Rolph Street Public School. She has stayed with it each growing season since then. This fall Kendra will be starting Grade 9 at Glendale High School. She says she has gained lots of pride in her abilities through the Junior Gardener program, and for sure she would recommend it to other kids.

One of the important things that Kendra has learned while gardening is to not just spread your seeds around. “You need to know what kind of seeds you are planting and where you are planting them,” she says.

Putting stakes in to help identify what you plant where is helpful. Some people write the names of the seeds on the stakes but Kendra says she has a good memory and it’s easy for her to remember what is where.

Kendra prefers planting vegetables to flowers, things like potatoes, and purple beans that turn green when you cook them. She says she usually harvests enough for a couple of dinners. Tomatoes, she says, grow very well.

Morning glories are the easiest to grow according to Kendra and although they come in a variety of colours, her favourite is blue. A perennial ornamental grass that she started in her first year as a junior gardener now stands almost as tall as Kendra herself.

She has grown herbs like oregano, basil and chives; annuals like nasturtium, marigolds, sunflowers and Indian corn and perennials like daylilies. Kendra says “the Junior Gardener organizers do a great job putting together the start-up packages of things to grow each year. There’s always something different to try.”

This year it was a hardy annual called Nigella which is also known as Love-in-a-Mist.

As well as the plants that she receives through the Junior Gardener program Kendra likes to grow some other things that she chooses for herself. This year she has tried sweet peas which she says have a really beautiful flower as well as a bean, plus radishes, yams and cosmos.

Maintaining a garden and getting it to grow depends a lot on the weather Kendra says. “This year everything has been a bit bigger than I expected.”

Judi Misener, one of the Junior Gardener program organizers, says a total of 125 children, ages four to 14, have been involved in the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society’s program this year. She says some just like to try their hand at growing plants but about half like to take it a step further and have adult members of the society come to take a look at their gardens in late July or early August. These junior gardener judges assess each gardener’s efforts in planning their garden and helping the plants to grow. Kendra says that she enjoyed this contest part of the gardening experience. She describes it as “really neat.”

Judi says that, “for those who have had their gardens judged, the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society is organizing a Wrap-Up Pizza Party complete with special award presentations in each age group.”

This is scheduled for September 18.

Fall Season Start-Up

The fall season of the Horticultural Society begins on Tuesday, September 3 when Toronto area gardening guru Ken Brown talks about Putting Your Garden to Bed. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre on Hardy Ave.

You can check Ken out at his Dallying in the Dirt website or for more information about the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society be sure to check out our website at www.tillsonburghorticultural.ca.

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