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Youngsters will be hooked on gardening
IN THE GARDEN
Children love watching their plantings flourish in the garden.
Few parents need to be remind-
ed that youngsters like to
watch things grow.
In fact some of those who have
ended up as successful television
gardener presenters and magazine
writers often recall the times they first
picked most of the heads from flowers
growing in their mother's gardens.
All toddlers love to pull the tops
from daisies and dandelions using
them to decorate mud sandpies, or to
push a few weeds to the compost heap
in little wheelbarrows.
It's the 'helping' and the copying of
what the grown-ups do that contribute
to the challenges of what might grow
in a future garden.
By the time they go to preschool and
have been shown how to nurture carrot
and pineapple tops in saucers of water;
watch eggs hatch into chicks over-
night; or sprout bean seeds in jars that
they can eat for play-lunch, they are
usually half way to wanting their own
patch of ground or at least a window
box in which to sow seeds and study
For littlies there's a lot of fun in
gardens -- growing snapdragons to
squeeze their cheeks and make them
talk; popping the flower buds of
fuchsias; making clown faces on their
own with red geranium petals, and
wearing pairs of cherry earrings.
If you happen to be growing
pumpkins or zucchini then scratch
their name lightly on the surface with
a sharp nail and then remind them to
watch it expand in size along with the
Children old enough to care for
animals are sure to delight in a couple
A mobile house/frame that can be
moved around the lawn will not only
keep the grass and any weeds down,
but also fertilise each plot of ground.
In addition, prolific layers like Isa
Browns will almost guarantee two
eggs a day that can be 'sold' to mum
and dad into the bargain.
Worm farms are another attraction
for eight to 12 year olds, a fantastic
way of recycling household food,
manure and plant waste.
They may well need some help in
selecting an appropriate site initially,
but the internet normally reveals all we
want to know about most things these
In a household with a couple of
buckets under the sink, one for
vegetable scraps and the other for cans
and glass destined for the yellow top
bin, there is usually a regular supply of
Dual products -- worm wee-
siphoned off from the bottom of the
farm, together with waste compost are
invaluable additives to the productive
garden. Green thumbed teenagers with
a little more drive and anxious to swell
the coffers, will soon discover the
benefits of being able to raise, not only
products of worm farms, but seedlings
in punnets or individual pots of almost
never-fail succulents -- either for
neighbours or via a notice on the
shopping centre board.
HOW often have you read or heard
of one nurseryman claiming that 'this'
particular plant is infinitely better than
They have to take infinite care how
they word their promotions of course,
but Aussie winners would like you to
know that their modern, vegetatively
propagated petunias are very different
from those commonly sold in punnets
or as inexpensive potted colour.
Modern petunias are the result of
world-wide breeding programmes to
improve the performance of the genus.
Perhaps the biggest difference is the
way that new petunias, especially the
Bubblegums, perform as a garden and
Mounding up to 60cm tall and
spreading vigorously (so remember to
give them a good trim back when
necessary) they are said to survive both
heat and cold then go on blooming for
months long after other petunias have
Notably they are self-cleaning so
that no dead-heading is needed and are
surprisingly drought-resistant planted
in the ground.
Plants named 'Happitunias' grown
in baskets and containers will need
more water than those grown in the
'Citrus Belle' with a delightfully
fresh combination of citrus with a
creamy yellow edging is a great pot
plant subject. Others in the series
include Strawberry, Blueberry, Cran-
berry Frost and Azur.
Jobs to do
Store packeted seed in dated ziplock sandwich bags and then file in a small box in
order of the month of planting.
Hopefully an occasional inspection means that none will be overlooked in the coming
Think carefully about feeding plants with chemical fertilisers in hot weather when the
risk of plants being burnt by the sun is great. Better to select organic plant foods in the
form of compost, mulches and manures.
Liquid plant foods can be safely applied in the early morning or the cool of the evening.
For an autumn crop, remove any unwanted runners from strawberry plots.
Trim back any old foliage, loosen the soil around clumps of plants, lightly scatter some
all purpose plant food around them and water in well.
Sow some seeds of Chinese cabbage, which is less likely to go to seed in autumn,
as well as winter radishes.
The Japanese or Daikon types take several month to mature.
Lift and dry onions, garlic and shallots once the foliage has yellowed on late season
Mauboy to headline festival
AUSTRALIAN singer Jessica
Mauboy has been announced as the
face of the 2011 National Multicultur-
al Festival in Canberra, and will
headline the opening of the weekend-
long event with a free performance in
Civic on the night of Friday, February
11.The festival is an annual cel-
ebration of Canberra's cultural diver-
sity, attracting more than a hundred
thousand people over three days to the
city centre for the free outdoor events
and attractions featuring local and
ACT Minister for Multicultural
Affairs Joy Burch said this year's
festival would feature a host of new
events and attractions, including an
Indigenous Showcase, a Turkish
Bazaar and a range of cooking
experiences with prominent chefs
including celebrity bush tucker chef
Mark Olive (aka the Black Olive),
from the television series The Out-
´ (Lifestyle Channel).
Following the outstanding success
of last year's food extravaganza on the
Saturday of the festival, Ms Burch
said food stalls from all over the world
would now be present over the three
Ms Burch said this year's festival
was shaping up to be even bigger than
''The Saturday program is packed
with festival favourites. There will be
250 stalls at the Fyshwick Freshfood
Markets Food and Dance Spectacular,
featuring multicultural food, cultural
and diplomatic groups. Six stages will
present an array of entertainment,''
The minister also welcomed the
introduction of an Indigenous Show-
case in Civic Square this year,
organised by the community-based
NAIDOC Week Committee.
The showcase will run all weekend,
culminating in a special family day on
It will feature Indigenous art,
cooking, music and dancing.
As well as performing on Friday
night, Mauboy will make an appear-
ance at the Indigenous Showcase on
the Saturday, along with bush tucker
chef Mark Olive.
''The National Indigenous Dance
Academy will hold interactive work-
shops and artists will provide work-
shops on Indigenous painting. During
the day Didgeridoo players will move
through the crowd and a traditional
ceremony will be performed at dusk,''
Ms Burch said.
For more on the 2011 National
Multicultural Festival, including
events, times and locations, visit
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