February 28: This Week in Gardening Club – Potato Power!

Dear Garden Club,

I hope this week finds you well and hydrated.  It looks like rain is coming to Southern California!

Bugs

Baking Soda Animals

Click here for the handout from last week’s baking soda animals

 – The baking soda animals can be stored up to 2 weeks in a dry container in the refrigerator. 

 – You can use the animals as a garbage disposal cleaner. 

 – Just pop 1 or two into the garbage disposal, run the hot water, and turn on the disposal for 10-20 seconds. 

 – Baking soda is also a proven mild fungal preventative for the garden!  You can dissolve one animal overnight inside a clean spray bottle filled with water, and then use it to spray your plants.  Once dissolved, the spray is only good for 1-2 days. 

 – Best of all, baking soda is nontoxic for your animals and kids.  However, as with all chemicals/foods/nouns, dose matters!  Just as you would not add an entire box of baking soda to your cake mix, plants can only tolerate 1-2 tablespoons/quart before ill effects happen. 

 – Also, as with all mild nontoxic remedies, constant vigilance is required.  Your chances of success are best if you catch the fungus early on, and are able to prevent the infection from spreading. 

This is an excellent activity for your toddler, as using a spray bottle not only develops finger strength (for that future pencil grip), but I have yet to meet a toddler who does not like spraying plants (and bugs and walls and other people).  However, if powdery mildew is covering over half of your plant, it is best to remove it and start over.

This Week in Gardening Club – Potato Power!

This week, if the weather is forgiving, we want to put our seedling potatoes into the outer garden.  Potatoes need an acidic, loamy soil, and take 2-4 months to mature once the daytime soil reaches over 50F or higher.

If the weather is too wet, we may move our potato painting (not planting) inside and examine the ladybugs under a dry roof!  Much like parenting, having a back-up plan for inclement weather is a key to success!

Speaking of parenting, I also have my (sometimes demanding) son during the class–and if everyone signs up for one or two dates to be an extra pair of hands, that would be fantastic!  You can help as little or as much as you want, but mostly I need help with manning the art table for late-comers, and cleaning up afterwards.  Just let me know a few dates that you might want to help and I’ll get a list out.  Of course, if you want center stage for a topic you are an expert in, by all means let me know!  If you develop a taste for this sort of volunteering (and gardening), this is a good time to buff up your volunteer resume to apply for the UC Master Gardener’s program next year. 

Garden club is a two-way street, and there are many different routes which will lead to a satisfying harvest.  So talk to the mom or dad next to you–he/she may know where to find the latest tomato plant or how to worm compost.  I took a gardening class a few months ago and learned more from my peers than the teacher!

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ELC Mom, Master Gardener, Parent Ambassador & Garden Club Coordinator

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