Lillian Mahaney and Cheryl Gross
The best thing about working in the garden with kids is the FUN. As gardeners, we all find some wonderful feeling of satisfaction being in relationship with plants. Is it your tomato production, raspberry jam, picture-perfect lawn, spectacular flower color, or enriched soils that bring you joy? When we share our love of gardening with the young ones, there are a host of tips to get the message across and make it FUN.
Lillian Mahaney, our very own, local, Jr MG instructor and instructor trainer uses CDs by a band from California. They are four guys who write and perform songs, some with hand motions, to teach aspects of the natural world. Lil encourages you to check out the Banana Slug String Band’s Singing in the Garden CD.
“The Water Cycle Boogie”, for example, blasts out evaporation, condensation and precipitation in song and dance. “FBI” in their hands becomes…fungus, bacteria and invertebrates, which really delights the boys. “Dirt Made My Lunch” clears up any uncertainty of where all of our food originates. Finally, in a nod to us older folks, the , “Give Plants a Chance”.
Whether you work alongside your own children/grandchildren, with an after school/recreation/public library gardening program, school farming, or the whole kit and caboodle Junior Master Gardeners, YOU can keep it fun by singing along the facts of gardening with the Banana Slug String Band! Google the band’s title and find sites with snippets of songs. They will make you smile.
Stay tuned to this newsletter and the MGANM website. Lillian plans to offer a JR MG training program this fall, which will include a whole host of tips for working with kids in the garden.
Mike Jones, Benzie Conservation District
With Northern Michigan’s abundance of inland lakes, rivers, and streams, waterfront property is important to residents, the health of the lakes and streams, and the wildlife they support. The shoreline and shallow water areas of a lake provide essential habitat for many fish and wildlife species.
Overdeveloped shorelines cannot support the fish, wildlife, and clean water that attract Michigan property owners and visitors to the waterfront. High-impact waterfront landscaping, with lawn to the water’s edge, creates problems for the lake ecosystem and waterfront owners. Rainwater carries lawn fertilizer, pet waste, leaves, and grass clippings into the lake, which promotes algal growth and the seasonal blooms that cause “green water”. Plants with shallow roots, especially grass, allow the shoreline to erode easily. Perfectly manicured lawns attract nuisance wildlife species such as geese. Hard-engineered shoreline structures such as seawalls and rip-rap, hinder the movement of wildlife to and from the lake and drastically alter the nearshore ecosystems that so many species depend on.
Alternative landscaping solutions can create attractive waterfronts that allow the recreational use of the shoreline while mimicking the functions of the wild shoreline of an undeveloped lake. Additional natural landscaping techniques such as rain gardens can filter pollutants such as bacteria, chemicals, and nutrients from runoff before it reaches our lakes.
With proper design, it is possible to have a beautiful shoreline that functions to protect the water quality and wildlife habitat while still enjoying the views and recreational uses that attract us to lakes.