, Salem, MA


July 5, 2013

Indoor gardening plants a seed with kids


Roots and vegetables make interesting houseplants. Plant a forest of feathery carrot tops in a dish of water. Beet tops are even prettier, with their dark green foliage and red-veined leaves. Turnips and parsnips will also grow interesting foliage in a very short time. Most kids would rather plant them than eat them! How long has it been since you grew a sweet potato vine? Suspend a potato in a jar of water. Sweet potatoes grow splendid vines, but not as splendid as we remember. Now, most potatoes are treated with some chemicals that prevent or retard sprouting and add shelf life. The best potatoes for growing will be found at an organic grocer or health food store where these chemicals aren’t used. Cheer up — only a few more weeks to keep kids occupied.

Q: What’s the secret to transplanting a cactus? I’ve got several that are creeping out of their pots. At least one will have to have its pot broken — that’s OK — but what about my hands?

A: Please be careful! Have the new pot ready and filled with a sandy soil. Please wear glasses to protect your eyes, and heavy leather gloves and a heavy long-sleeved work shirt. Take a thick section of newspaper and roll it — bend the roll of newspaper around the cactus and use it as a handle to lift and position it in its new pot. Water it well, then allow the plant to drain — don’t re-water until the soil feels damp. Then, put it back in its usual sunny spot and wait another five to six years until it needs to be re-potted again.

Q: My lawn looks fine this year. I know it’s because of the rain, but what can I do to keep a lawn green through the summer?

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