Thanks to everyone who submitted stories about their gardening challenges and solutions. There were many inspiring ones, and I will revisit some of my favorites throughout the year. We would also like to thank the companies that generously donated prizes: Southern Patio, Plants Nouveau, and Better Than Rocks. We're please to announce the following winners:
Mary Ann will receive:
'Pink Double Delight' echinacea
Mary Ann's challenge: How to care for a school garden in summer
Her solution: Develop a Weed & Read Program
Her story: "The Outdoor Lab at our school was created to help children learn about plants with hands-on activities, which we know is the best way for children to learn and retain information. In the spring, we planned to sow seeds, but with no school in the summer, what were we going to do about the care of the garden?
We developed a Weed and Read summer program. Children and their families are invited to come each Monday afternoon. We work in the raised beds, weeding the plants the children grew from seed in classroom activities. We also weed perennial beds -- the Butterfly Garden, Hummingbird Garden, and ABC Garden -- and weed the plantings at the school's entrance doors.
If plants need water, the children water them, and yes, the children also get wet, but what fun. Parents help in the weeding, too. The children who come to help are learning about plant growth and the care and appreciation for plants. In raised beds we grow cherry tomatoes, carrots, and mixed greens. These are served at lunch in our cafeteria.
We read books about plants, plant growth, seeds, etc. A supervising adult reads one aloud, and children share a big basket of books as we sit under the trees enjoying a cool snack. It is a successful way to promote learning through the summer, as well as a way to involve students in a service project. Everybody wins!"
Mary Ann's story demonstrates how gardening can bring people together. The Weed and Read Program not only took care of the dilemma with the garden, it also encouraged community and, as a bonus, it reinforced the value of reading.
Better Than Rocks pot liner
Louise will receive a $25 gift certificate to the NGA Garden Shop.
Louise's challenge: Gardening with physical limitations
Her solution: Container gardening, vertical gardening, using a wagon
Her story: "My gardening problem is how to continue gardening while accommodating my aging body. I now plant vegetables in large plastic tubs that originally held livestock feed. I drill holes in the bottom and fill the bottom third with plastic peanuts to conserve on expensive potting soil. I grow small melons on a 6-foot bean tower, and patty pan squash and cucumbers on a plastic mesh trellis. Growing vertically eliminates rot from veggies lying on damp soil. I grow tomatoes in topsy-turvy containers and am making some additional upside-down planters from compressed-paper hanging pots by cutting a hole in the bottom of each. I also use my little red wagon to move things and also to sit on when tending to perennials planted in the ground. I hope to continue gardening for many more years."
Louise's solution shows ingenuity, and, as a bonus, she gets more growing space by growing vertically.
NGA Garden Shop gift certificate
Joyce will receive a $15 gift certificate to the NGA Garden Shop.
Joyce's challenge: Water collecting in a low spot with poor drainage
Her solution: Turn it into a dry pond
Her story: "I was having a drainage problem in my garden up against the back of my house when it rained. The area would fill with water and overflow, making a mess. I created a dry pond bed that I lined with large stones and filled in with small stones. I surrounded the "pond" with large stones, pots of flowers, and some garden statuary. Now when it rains, it looks like a lovely pond."
Joyce's idea turned a problem area into an ornamental asset. As a bonus she didn't have to resort to laying drainage tiles or regrading. This solution could help prevent water damage to a home by slowing down the force of water and allowing it to slowly percolate through the soil.