Thursday, November 17, 2005

Celebrity of the Week & Gardening with Kids

The Frugal Duchess Celebrity of the Week Award goes to:

Jane Kaczmarek, (“Louis” on hit show: Malcolm in the Middle)

Jane, a gardener, wins FD Celebrity honors for her Green and Frugal comments in the November issue of More magazine.

“I still love growing tomatoes – nothing tastes as good. In fact, when we got married my bridesmaids actually carried vegetables, and instead of an engagement ring, I wanted a state-of-the art wheelbarrow.”

“Gardening,” she told More magazine, “is peaceful, yet there is a great element of failure. It’s the perfect metaphor for life —a lot of pleasure and then it’s over. There’s a great satisfaction in tending something, feeling it needs you even if it’s just a plant on your window sill”
--Jane Kaczmarek, Nov. issue of More

And on the topic of gardending: Organic gardening--a fun thing to do with kids--can save a bundle and the environment. That’s the word from Christine Barney, chief executive officer of rbb public relations in Coral Gables, Florida.

Together with her young daughter Alexa, Barney has an unusual method of protecting her flower garden from predators. In the Barney household, rose bushes and other plants are protected with a frugal supply of ladybugs.

At a cost of $9.98 for a container of 1,200 to 1,500 ladybugs, Barney purchases a supply of natural supply of garden pest control. That tub of ladybugs — slowly released into the garden — lasts three to four months and represents a cheaper and safer alternative to traditional pesticides, which often involve potentially harmful chemicals, Christine said.

“Ladybugs don’t do any other damage to your garden. There’s no comparison in peace of mind because I’m not putting down poison in my yard,” she said. “The flowers look great.”

Organic gardening differs from traditional gardening in terms of fertilization and pest control, according to experts in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Typically, organic gardeners avoid man-made chemicals that may be harmful to the environment or one’s health.

As part of organic gardening, ladybugs are natural predators of aphids and soft body insects that typically plague roses, gardenias and milkweed, according to Diane Manganaro, co-owner and operations manager of Parker Sod, a landscape center in the southern corner of Miami.

As a form of pest control, ladybugs will stay in a garden as long as their food supply lasts, Manganaro said. (Garden supply stores also sell a food mixture designed to attract and maintain the ladybug population in a garden).

To extend the presence of this natural source of garden protection, Barney keeps her supply of ladybugs in an air-tight “deli” container in her refrigerator and in this fashion, the bugs hibernate in the cold air until slowly released into the garden over the period of several months.

There are, however, a few caveats. The transfer of the ladybugs from refrigerator has to be accomplished relatively quickly, Barney said, speaking from experience. Although the insects hibernate in the container, there is a small window of opportunity (about three to four minutes) before they start swarming out of the refrigerated container when the lid is open. Also, household members should be forewarned about the contents of that particular “deli” container in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, Barney said.

But meanwhile, her daughter Alexa especially enjoys the ladybugs and appreciates their role in the garden. Gardening also represents a low-cost source of quality time for parents and children.

And there’s an added bonus for Barney, who enjoys taking her daughter to Parker Sod to purchase Ladybugs because that garden center also offers access to a free butterfly aviary that is popular with children. Ladybugs are also available at other garden stores in the area and can also be purchased from online distributors.

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