Summer garden for kids

Activity in the Rapid City Children's Garden Project - 2013

Mary Hercher, Master Gardener and co-leader with Cathy Robeson, of the activities and programs in the Rapid City Children's Garden, part of the Educational Garden sponsored and developed by the Rapid City Garden Club, writes the follow summary of gardening activities at mid-summer:

  • The scarlet beans and the peas are blossoming, carrots are growing, the thrips ate our nasturtium, the corn is getting tall, onions are ready to pull, pumpkins are vining out, the sunflowers are reaching for the sky, and the zucchini and cucumber vines are looking good. 
  • We had some hail damage, but think the plants will heal themselves. The leaf lettuce has been harvested; we all took some home for sandwiches and salads. We look forward to the giant pumpkin harvest. 
  • We are working on fencing this area to keep the deer out. The ultimate goal of this project is that the children will plant, monitor growth, and harvest and consume what they grow. It is a success!


But the real magic occurs every other Monday when the children and volunteers arrive for a morning in the garden. We are all back for our 4th year of the Children in the Garden Project. We have been working hard and having fun along the way.

On June 10, we planted our vegetable seeds. And, yes, we were late getting them into the ground, but all have sprouted and are growing and flourishing in our garden. The weeds are growing as well, so we spend about 15 minutes each time we visit the garden in a race to fill our ice cream weed buckets with all the weeds we can find. And we find a lot!

We have learned about seeds while disecting a soaked lima bean seed to find the baby plant that lives inside. We found the root, stem and first true leaves of the baby plant. A scavenger hunt had us matching the seeds we planted to the sprouts in the garden. Giant rhubarb leaves helped us to learn about leaf parts and the function of the leaf as a food factory for the plant. We then went on a leaf hunt to find 5 leaves. We enjoyed making leaf rubbings of the found leaves--the rubbings were lovely. There are many different kinds of leaves for us to notice the next time we are the garden. Observation is a valuable gardening tool.

Mary Roduner’s, SDSU Consumer Horticulture Field Specialist, brought her insect collection, and with her stories and hands-on insect gathering activity will have us all looking at garden bugs in a new way! Mary Roduner, in addition to being the Consumer Horticultural Field Specialist is also an entomologist. She helped us to learn about the good and not so good bugs that may live in our garden. We learned how to sweep for bugs and had fun discovering what we had captured in our bug nets. A variety of insects found their way into our nets: lady bugs and their larval form, damsel fly, spiders, ants, hover fly, aphids, grasshoppers, a leaf hopper, and some that flew away before they were identified. It was great fun for all involved.

Gardening does require work and effort. It is equally important to remember to stop, enjoy the beauty of the garden and to have some fun in the garden along the way.


The following photographs, taken by Mary Hercher, show the activities the day Mary Roduner came to teach the children how to sweep for insects and how to observe and study them.

Sweeping for bugs

Look what we found!

Look out, bugs, here we come!






Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News