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Girl Scouts get hands-on gardening lessons
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Kellie Bowen, left center, supervises as Girl Scout Troop 10815 members plant their cucumber seeds. Bowen, co-owner of Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont, gave a hands-on gardening session for the troop to earn badges.

Girl Scout Troop 10815 members are more than willing to do what they have to do to earn their merit badges, even if it means rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.

On a recent trip to Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont, that’s exactly what the group of second- and third-graders from Wauka Mountain Elementary School did.

"What are we learning about today?" asked troop leader Carrie Savage.

"Plant care," replied the eager scouts.

Kellie Bowen, co-owner of the nursery, gave the girls a thorough lesson on how to plant and care for seeds so that they can start their own vegetable gardens at home.

"When you get a packet of seeds, the first thing you want to do is read the instructions," Bowen told the girls.

"It tells you what type of growing conditions they need, how deep to plant the seeds and how long it should take for your seeds to germinate."

Although this was their first visit to the nursery, the girls proved that they were ahead of the learning curve. One was even able to define "germination."

"It means how many days it takes before it starts to grow," said Emma Savage, who is in second grade.

And when Holly Acrey found out that they would each get to plant their own pot of cucumber seeds to take home, she knew exactly what she would do once the vegetables began to sprout.

"Yay! We can turn them into pickles," said Holly, a third-grader.

Bowen told the girls that it would take 50 days from the time their seeds were planted before they would be able to harvest their crop.

"That seems like forever," said Beth Black, a second-grader.

In addition to reminding the girls to check the soil around their plants daily to make sure that it doesn’t get too dry, she also gave them a few more useful facts to remember.

"You don’t want to let these get too big. If it gets too big, they will taste bitter," Bowen said.

"You want to pick these when they are about 6 inches long."

The Wauka Mountain Brownie troop may have only been organized in March, but the girls have still managed to earn a handful of award patches.

"My daughter wanted to be a Girl Scout, but they couldn’t find a troop leader. So two of us moms decided to work together to start the troop," said Savage, who is a special education paraprofessional at Wauka Mountain.

"Even though we got started late in the year, I wanted the girls to be able to earn as many patches as possible. So at each meeting, we’ve gone on a different outing.

"They’ve volunteered at the Hall County Animal Shelter, camped out, learned how a business works and now they’ve learned about plant care. Each time they’ve learned something, they’ve earned a patch."