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HELP YOUR KIDS GROW INTO GARDENERS

The National Gardening Association has lots of ideas for getting kids interested in gardening at its Web site, www.kidsgardening.org. The site's editor, Barbara Richardson, dug up these tips:

- Start with a flat of annual flowers. The rewards are immediate.

- Gravitate toward unusual plants, such as pink potatoes, orange cauliflower or purple beans. Or focus on edible flowers and herbs, such as nasturtium and basil, and fragrant plants, such as lemon basil and orange thyme.

- Kids, even older ones, like hiding places, so create one in the garden. Plant tall-growing (such as Mammoth) sunflower seeds in a circle, leaving a space for a "door" that kids can crawl through once the flowers have grown.

- Plant a garden based on a favorite storybook. Richardson recommends The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

- Notice the changes that take place in the garden, and track them on a calendar, in a journal or with photographs. Pay attention to the birds and insects, too.

- Build a scarecrow or a birdhouse or make personalized steppingstones.

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