By Linda Stein, Master Gardener
Watch, Read, and Do!
Watch this How-to Video
Read Books Together
The following books were suggested by the children’s librarian in the Westcott Dakota County Library:
Good Night Veggies, by Diana Murphy (picture book which introduces children to different vegetables)
Growing a Pizza Garden, by Maddie Spalding
Michelle’s Garden: How the first lady planted seeds of change, by Sharee Miller
Gardening Projects for Kids, by Whitney Cohen (adult book)
This month we have two fun activities for you to do with your children. These activities are designed to introduce children to vegetable gardening, promote healthy eating, and increase awareness of the relationship between foods we eat and the parts of plants from which they come.
Plant a Pizza Garden
Gardening can provide a wonderful opportunity to teach children about healthy eating. And, a garden centered on the ingredients for a favorite dinner item such as pizza is a fun way to begin.
Discuss with your child what items they like on their pizza: tomato sauce, peppers, onions, meats, cheese, etc. You can talk about which of the items can be grown in your garden.
In the demonstration video, we’ve chosen to grow three types of vegetables: tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, and two herbs: oregano and basil.
The number of plants will depend on the space you have available. Tomato plants and pepper plants require about 12 inches of ground while onions should be planted 2-3 inches apart. Herbs like basil and oregano are wonderful companion plants with tomatoes and peppers, so they can be planted right next to these larger plants.
If you have a large sunny spot, you might create your garden in the shape of a pizza with each wedge dedicated to a different pizza topping.
You could also create the garden in a container. A few things to keep in mind: to grow tomatoes and peppers, the container should be at least 12 inches deep and tomato and pepper plants require a container that is about 12 inches in diameter. So, if you want all the plants to be in the same container, you would want one that is at least 24 inches in diameter.
Most of the nurseries and big box stores have wood barrels that would work. You also could consider using a plastic tub or even a children’s wading pool. Either would work great. You just want to put some holes in the bottom to let water drain out and you should use potting soil or soil designed for raised bed gardens rather than garden soil for your container garden.
What Parts of Plant Do We Eat?
The following is taken from an activity suggested by Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom.
The fruits and vegetables we eat come from different parts of the plants. Many children may not make the connection that when they sit down for a meal, they are eating a seed, root, or stem. There are six edible plant parts: seed (reproductive part of the plant); root (part of plant typically underground providing water and nourishment); stem (main body or stalk of plant); leaf (flat and green—attached to stem); fruit (sweet and fleshy product of tree/plant and contains seeds); flower (brightly colored petals and bears seed). See if your child can identify which part of the plant each food comes from: