Accomplishment just a little out of the ordinary is important to many children. A variety of gardens can be geared to this trait. Aim for distinction of some kind; something that will rate as a very special achievement, worthy of a little boasting.
TO BE FIRST
One target could be the earliest possible spring garden produce. It isn't too hard to beat most adults at this game if groundwork is laid the previous autumn.
Extra early pickings, of course, come from some of the perennial vegetables and herbs-things like Egyptian or white bunching onions, upland cress, sorrel, cultivated dandelions, chives and parsley. Waxed paper tents placed over clumps of
chives and parsley in late winter will force earlier-than-usual growth.
For the earliest possible production of radishes, scallions and leaf lettuce help the child prepare a small plot of ground in the fall. This should be dug and left rough, and raised a little higher than surrounding ground so it will thaw, drain and dry out more quickly in the spring. It will be ready for planting weeks earlier than the rest of the garden.
TO BE LAST
Coming in last isn't always a commendable distinction, but it could be just that if it meant coming in with the last vegetables of the season.
Selection of cold-resistant vegetables is the answer. These present no special difficulties; only planning ahead.
Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli and Chinese cabbage (celery cabbage) continue to grow after heavy frosts and remain edible until very hard freezes. Most lettuce stands up remarkably well in temperatures down to 25° or lower. Endive is even better after light freezing. Salsify, parsnips and leeks can be dug as long as the ground remains unfrozen-and longer, if rows are covered with straw. Turnips stand a lot of freezing, too, and keep on growing into the late fall if planted in mid-August.
The last bouquets of the season can come from a bed of the frost-defiers. Use a sheltered spot for this garden, facing south or southwest. A few late-blooming chrysanthemums belong here. So do fall anemones (Anemone japonica), rud-beckia, stokesia, gaillardia, violas, forget-me-nots and stock. Spring planted annuals such as Chinese forget-me-nots, marigolds, calendulas, dianthus, snapdragon, scabiosa, verbenas, browallia, Tahoka daisy and California poppies keep on blooming after early frosts and light freezes if they are kept from going to seed by constant removal of all faded blossoms.
BOTH FIRST AND LAST
A small coldframe, when children can be depended on to take care of it, will shorten the gap between seasons and provide later-than-late and earlier-than-early garden products. All the care it really needs is this: