Mister Chris and Christine!

Mister Chris and Friends is a new children's show on Vermont PBS, and KidsGardening's education specialist Christine Gall appears in several episodes as Farmer Christine. She had a fantastic time working on the show, and we are so excited to share it with you.

Each new episode of Mister Chris and Friends is designed as an educational lesson on an aspect of the natural world, combined with the show’s foundational approach of creating a safe and welcoming environment in which to learn and explore.

The show is incredibly sweet, and if you need to unwind with the littles in your life, you should check it out! May we recommend episode 3, where Christine is the featured guest?

Seeds: In this episode, we wish with our friend Wishing Well that we could grow bigger... right now! Mister Chris will work with our farmer friend, Christine, to learn more about what a seed needs to grow, including time.

You can watch the entire series at Vermont PBS.

Blog by: Beth Saunders

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Winter Garden Activities

As I write this, it’s snowing here in Vermont for the first time this season. It was just a few short weeks ago that I put my garden to bed and said goodbye to my garden community; and to be honest, I was ready for the break and the coming season of rest and reflection. Even still the (at least) six months of cold weather here in Vermont makes for a little TOO MUCH time for rest and for being indoors.

Even if you don’t live in a climate quite this cold, we all feel the itch to connect with nature in new ways during the winter months. This is especially important for children. KidsGardening has a wealth of free activities that can be enjoyed during any time of the year, with or without garden space. With the holiday season fast approaching, I picked out a few following that theme that I thought you might enjoy. Check out KidsGardening Garden Activities for more ideas!

Make a Winterberry Wreath
The winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) is native to North America east of the Great Plains. Unlike most hollies, winterberry is deciduous, dropping all its leaves during the fall season to unveil densely packed sprays of bright red berries along its bare branches. These berries persist well into winter and feed many different species of birds. These showy fruits also make winterberry an ideal plant for nature-made holiday decorations.

Art in the Winter Garden
Want to put a new spin on your outdoor winter fun? Sparking far more creativity than the typical snowman, introduce your students or family to the work of sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy; then let your imaginations go wild in your own winter garden.

Wild Bird Holiday Decorations
Filling trees and shrubs with festive treats for the birds enlivens the winter landscape and supports our feathered friends. Berried garlands and seeded ornaments can last after the holidays, when the winter months are snowiest. Handmade outdoor ornaments also make great gifts for kids to make and give.

Kristen Wirkkala

Blog by: Kristen Wirkkala

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Meet Emma Biggs

meet emma biggs

On October 3, I had the chance to chat with the father/daughter duo Emma and Steven Biggs about Gardening with Kids on their weekly radio show Garage Gardeners.  You can listen to a podcast of the show online or download it as an Apple Podcast or from Google Play.  It was such a pleasure to learn more about their gardening experiences over the years and the unique bond they have formed through gardening together.  It was also so very cool to hear the excitement in thirteen-year-old Emma’s voice as she talked about her garden. I am pretty sure she was born with a green thumb. 

Below you will find an amazing interview with Emma by our KidsGardening Advisory Board Member James Baggett providing you with great garden ideas and tips from the heart and mind of a young gardener.  Enjoy!

Meet Emma Biggs

Thirteen-year-old Emma Biggs is nothing if not passionate about gardening and eager to share her passion with other kids. Emma lives in Canada and posts garden how-to videos on her father’s blog (StevenBiggs.ca), which led to her sharing her advice in a cool new garden book for kids. Gardening with Emma (Storey Books) is a kid-to-kid guide to growing healthy food and raising the coolest, most awesome plants while making sure there’s plenty of fun. With plants that tickle and make noise, tips for how to grow a flower stand garden, and suggestions for veggies from tiny to colossal, Emma offers a range of original, practical, and entertaining advice and inspiration. She provides lots of useful know-how about soil, sowing, and caring for a garden throughout the seasons, along with ways to make play spaces among the plants. Emma’s own writing (with some help from her gardening dad, Steve) capture the authentic creativity of a kid who loves to be outdoors, digging in the dirt. KidsGardening.org caught up with her recently to find out more.

Tell us about your earliest garden memories. 

One of my earliest memories of gardening is making what I called 'Cabander Stew'. It was a mixture I made of whatever I could find in the garden - carrots, chives, radishes - water, and of course - mud, all mixed together in a pail. I also remember doing a lot of watering, as it is the perfect activity to get kids gardening - all you need is a watering can, a place to fill it up, and something to water.

Top three plants that belong in a kid’s garden?

The top plant that belongs in every kid's garden (and adults) is the 'Mouse Melon", also called 'cucamelon', or 'Mexican Sour Gherkin'. My younger cousin Daphne loved them, always asking if we could go out and pick them, and when I gave some to my neighbour, her response was "Omg watermelon cucumbers!!!!!" They are easy to grow, plentiful, and a lot of fun to search for and pick. My next plant that belongs in every kid's garden is the Ground Cherry. It's such a sweet treat! You peel away the papery 'wrapper' or husk to reveal a cherry-sized sweet and tropical flavoured fruit. I can't get enough of them. Easy to grow, and totally worth it - probably my favourite fruit ever! My last kid's garden plant is beans. They are super easy to grow, productive, and can be stunning. My favourite bean is a purple and yellow striped one called "Dragon's Tongue". Beans are crunchy and delicious, easy to save seeds from, and fun and easy to plant. There are so many great things out there for kids to grow. So many great things. So choose one, or two, or 10 things you want to grow - and grow them!

What makes you happiest in the garden?

In the garden, it makes me happiest to see that my plants are growing well, to see that the squirrels aren't eating all of my tomatoes, and to harvest what I have put lots of time and effort into growing.

Favorite music to listen to in the garden?

I enjoy listening to music that is fun and jumpy, the kind of songs that get stuck in your head and make you want to dance. They make me want to garden more!

Describe your garden for us.

My garden is bigger than most peoples, but still not big enough for me. I always want more garden space, and keep stealing Dad's. My garden consists of one big veggie garden, three raised wicking beds for growing tomatoes, a container garden on my garage rooftop, and a few more in-ground beds closer to the house. That excludes my brother Keaton's melon house, my dad's front yard garden, and the three raised beds I am using in my neighbour's yard. If I keep stealing more garden though, it may all be mine in the end.

Quinn, with a bean. (Not a tomato!)

Most kids don’t like fresh tomatoes…how did you come to be such a big fan?

I can't believe how many kids (including my younger brother Quinn) don't like fresh tomatoes. To me, they're such a treat. And my brother Quinn won't even touch them. I think I just ate lots of tomatoes when I was younger and eat even more now. I can't imagine not liking tomatoes - but I can't image liking yogurt or cereal either.

Best advice anyone’s ever given you?

Lots of advice has been given to me over the years. And I try to take in all of it (there's a lot!). My Portuguese neighbour tells me to start my tomatoes a little bit earlier, and Donna Balzer advises me to not grow tomatoes beside anything in the cabbage family. I just try to take it all in, and then, someday, I might be giving other people advice.

What are some of your favorite garden apps?

I don't use technology in the garden, other than the latest backhoe, or watering can, but when I'm planning the garden, I love to listen to music. I also like to use Seedvoyage, an app that lets you sell your extra garden produce, and Instagram to see what other people are doing in their gardens, and to share what I'm doing.

The biggest mistake you’ve made in the garden?

I have made so many mistakes in the garden that I don't even know where to start. I like to try things and do experiments in the garden because, why not? That has led to lots of things, but also a busy life, and forgetting or not having enough time for watering, and that leads to dead plants.

 The coolest part of working on your book?

The coolest part of working on my new book is meeting and talking to experts on gardening. Writing a book gives you permission to call anyone you want to and to talk about gardening. I've met so many great people through writing this book, and I'm excited to meet more in the future.

What’s your next project? 

I always have something on my mind to do next. Whether it's selling my produce, writing a book on tomatoes, or attempting tomato breeding, I can't wait. I know it'll be fun.

Sarah Pounders

Blog by: Sarah Pounders and James Baggett

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