Friday, April 1, 2011

Top Five Spring Activities

Start Plants and Flowers From Seeds
Growing plants from seed is a wonderful project for adults as well as children. It can be habit forming as well as a science so be prepared to get involved! Many different techniques will produce healthy plants and it is best to experiment with different methods until you find what works best for you.

Starting seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the average date of the last  frost can extend the blooming or production time. We began our seeding in the beginning of March to transplant outside by the beginning of June. When danger of frost has passed, harden off the plants over time to acclimate them to the outdoors and transplant them into the ground.

Just like people, seeds and bulbs have needs that must be met in order for them to thrive and grow. Show kids a variety of seeds and bulbs, explaining that this is where most plants come from. To help kids understand more about planting seeds and bulbs, allow them to grow some of their own. Give kids the responsibility for watering and observing the growth of their plants. A fun project is to paint the flower pots you are using.

To learn more about seed starting there is a lot of information online and at your local nursery.

Boston Flower and
Garden Show 2011
Visit a Flower Show or Nursery
Spring is a wonderful time to visit a flower show or nursery. We attend the Boston Flower and Garden Show yearly, and find the show to be a perfect kick-off to getting ready for spring gardening. Its a wonderful opportunity to find out what is trending in landscape design as well as gaining information about timely garden topics. The focus this year was on celebrating the container garden.

It is also an opportunity to support local gardeners and artisans. Children do very well at Flower and Garden shows as the exhibits are bright and interesting. Often times involving birds or other animals that frequent the outdoor garden habitats. This year we bought our son a butterfly kit with live caterpillars.

If there is not an opportunity to attend a flower show in your area, heading to a local nursery will give you some springtime inspiration.

Visit a Farm or Wildlife Sanctuary

Sheep Sheering
Woolapalooza 2011
Visiting a farm or sanctuary in spring provides an exciting array of activity. From babies being born to sheep being sheered, there is no lack of things to see and learn. Check out your local farm or wildlife sanctuary, you will be surprised at the many opportunities!

Observe Birds and Wildlife
Springtime brings about lots of activity. The common wood frog freezes solid every winter and then defrosts in the spring. After spending the cold months underground, salamanders emerge in late winter to migrate to their aquatic breeding sites, most likely the very site where they were born. What's amazing about this is that they often migrate on the same night and in towns across Massachusetts, wildlife enthusiasts wait for the night of the big migration and get out there to help. The salamanders need a first rainy night over 45 degrees Fahrenheit, after the ground has thawed, to trigger the migration. If you have children, A Big Night for Salamanders written by Sarah Lamstein is a wonderful book about a young boys attempts to protect the salamanders on their big night. Vernal Pools play an important roll in the spring. A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools, is a great resource.

There is plenty of bird activity outside. Robins can be seen looking for worms, some birds are leaving, others arriving. Check with your local Audubon Society to join in on a birding class. Another fun activity is to purchase a bird journal. If you want to make a journal with your children, Bird Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Birding Experiences is a perfect tool!

Raise Your Own Butterflies
Recently we purchased an Insect Lore Live Butterfly Pavilion. It is an amazing way to observe the wonder of the butterfly life cycle. This experience has provided us with a close hand look at caterpillars eating and growing to form their chrysalis, then emerging as Painted Lady butterflies. We love feeding the butterflies in their included observation habitat and then releasing them into the wild. Last year we purchased a butterfly bush and several butterfly attracting plants for our garden. It will be a a nice habitat to release our next batch in over the summer.

Enjoy spring!!

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