Special Paraphernalia

Cucumber up a tree. Anyone who has ever inadvertently planted cucumbers within four or five feet of a tree, shrub or even a row of corn, has had a demonstration of their remark­able, inherent propensity for climbing. Sprawling on the ground is obviously second choice, since if there is anything climbable within their range they will unerringly head for it and twine their way upward.

This suppressed desire of the fruit to be airborne presents the child with an opportunity for a rather unusual spectacle in his garden-a cucumber up a tree. Locate, if you can, a small dead tree, or even a large, heavily branched limb. Anchor it deeply and securely, just as you would a bean pole. Side braces are advisable, as its burden will be heavy. The tree should extend at least six feet above ground. Cucumbers planted at its base will quickly clamber all over it, covering it with foliage and dangling their fruits from the branches like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

The old-fashioned scarecrow has almost passed into legen­dary oblivion. Its prowess in frighting away birds certainly never was too substantial, and farmers long since have adopted more effective measures. But despite its dubious practical value, what could be more fun in the young gardener's cornpatch or strawberry bed than a self-made Raggedy Ann scarecrow? Almost any child would love to make one. He may need a little help in nailing a crosspiece, for the arms, to a tall stake driven into the ground. But the costuming he will probably want no one else to touch. Outgrown Hallowe'en costumes, funny-face masks, or your own most colorful discarded clothing are all he needs. Let him be as outlandish as he pleases with his creation.

Mobile scare-aways, patterned after the mobiles of the art world and inspired by the rattling aluminum devices sold to guard plants, are garden constructions most little boys could handle. Help the child secure crossbars to a three- or four-foot stake set in the middle of his own garden. Supply him with small and large tin cans, tin lids, or scraps of thin aluminum sheeting if you have them. He will also need a pair of tin snips, a nail to punch holes in the metal, and some thin wire.

Color in Garden - Plate 11b

The finished gadget should dangle a variety of sizes and shapes of metal pieces, attached by wire to the crossbars. This will be much like a real mobile, except that no feat of balance is involved. Some of the pieces may be painted in bright reds and yellows if it pleases the young workman's fancy, although the reflection of the sun on the shiny metal is part of the scare-away effect. Obliging breezes do the rest, swaying and tossing the metal with clattery sound effects that, for a time at least, do alarm trespassing birds.



      (c)2003-2008, gardening-with-kids.com