Autumn offers many opportunities to bond with those we love. Families can come together to pick apples, explore a corn maze, or select the perfect Halloween pumpkin.
When I was growing up, raking leaves to form the “biggest pile ever” was a tradition for my brothers and me. We would turn this chore into a championship and spend hours enjoying the task — and learn about composting in the process. After dumping the leaves onto the compost pile, my mom would have us turn it, mixing the leaves in with the dirt and other organic scraps. Occasionally, we would also spread the recently composted soil onto our vegetable bed.
Your garden’s fall maintenance is a way for your family to enjoy each other’s company while tidying up before winter sets in. Most kids really love to dig, so edging the garden, digging potatoes, or planting a second season of crops such as spinach and lettuce are great ways to engage them — and they learn to appreciate the natural world in the process. Whether it’s flowers or vegetables, involving your children in planting and harvesting ensures that they are more likely to take ownership and care for them.
Another fun project is creating a simple fire pit to enjoy on chilly autumn nights. This can be used to burn some of the dead woody material that was cleaned up. A small fire is a great way to bring people together. ‘Smores anyone?
Don’t forget the fun involved in bringing the finery of fall indoors. An excellent family project is selecting traditional fall décor from your garden, yard or field — mums, asters, gourds, cornstalks, pumpkins, and, of course, leaves. Leaves are a good way to educate children about the natural world by calling attention to their many different shapes, sizes, and colors.
And how about an outing? Landis has several trails on which to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells of fall. If you’d like your visit to be a bit more structured, join us when we ask the public to help us “put the gardens to bed.” It is typical for families and groups of friends to come out and pitch in. We accomplish a lot in a few hours , and children usually learn something too – including the value of teamwork and the ways in which nature works its wonders.
This season’s “Fall Garden Clean-Up” is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, from 10 AM to noon. Bring the kids!