Welcome Spring! Edible Rhody Kids is created in collaboration with Kidoinfo. Grab this season’s copy of Edible Rhody, available at various locations around Rhode Island. Read “Grow your Favorite Foods“, about how kids can learn to grow their own food followed by a list of resources, activities and books to share with your kids. Click on the chef’s hat for a theme-related recipe!
Edible Rhody Kids: Grow your Favorite Foods
Ever wonder where the tomatoes in your taco come from? Their path to our table may be short if grown nearby, or very long if they come from a farm as far away as California. When we grow our own food we can eat what we like, play with dirt, eat food without harmful chemicals and reduce the re- sources needed to transport food for long distances. It’s fun to eat food you grow yourself. Plant a garden this spring!
- Find the sun. Gardens need sunlight to help plants grow.
- Prepare the soil: If planting in the ground you should test your soil—be sure there are no harmful chemicals in the dirt. (See resources below.) Pull weeds, loosen the soil and add fertilizer. Be kind to the Earth and our bodies—avoid using chemicals and go organic. Grow in containers, raised beds or a find a community garden.
PICK A THEME
Design a small themed garden around your favorite food.
- Pizza Garden: tomatoes, peppers, oregano and basil.
- Taco Garden: carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce.
- Salsa Garden: tomatillos, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro.
TIME IT RIGHT
Some vegetables can grow from seeds you sow (place into the ground) and others do better if you begin with small plants (from a farm, garden center or grown indoors from seed).
- Around St. Patrick’s’ Day: Plant seeds for peas and lettuce.
- Mid-April: Plant seeds for carrots and radishes.
- Late May: Plant starter plants for herbs, peppers and tomatoes and seeds for cucumbers.
- June: Plant seeds for pumpkins and sunflowers. They’re fun to grow.
WORK & EAT
- Tend the garden
Your garden needs to be watered, weeded and checked for pests regularly.
- Harvest the bounty!
Take pride in the food you grew yourself. Cook it, share it and taste the freshness.
- Community Gardens: If you don’t have enough room in your yard, look for a community garden near you. They are often found in public spaces such as parks or empty lots. To find a list of Rhode Island community gardens visit www.farmfresh.org. Southside Community Land Trust also lists helpful community gardening resources at www.southsideclt.org.
- Indoor gardening: If you have little or no outdoor space, you can grow plants like basil indoors near a window or using a grow light.
- Soil Prep: If you are planting in the ground you should test your soil first to ensure there are no harmful chemicals in the dirt, such as lead. (Testing kits are available from the University of Rhode Island Master Gardeners Association.) By choosing organic methods to grow food, you can avoid adding potentially harmful chemicals. Joyce Holscher of the Good Earth Gardening Center recommended worm castings as a great fertilizer to blend into the dirt—you can buy the castings at the garden center or make your own worm compost (vermiculture). If you are planting in containers you can buy soil pre-mixed with organic fertilizer.
- URI Masters Gardeners: This organization has a handy website and a hotline with gardeners who can answer your gardening questions. Look for a helpful list of vegetables and planting dates in Rhode Island. www.urimastergardeners.org/planting-schedule
- Good Earth Gardening Center shared gardening wisdom for our spring gardening page. They have organic gardening supplies along with small starter plants, seeds, pots and everything you need to get started, including helpful advice.
- Children’s Garden Network: This Rhode Island–based group provides guidance and resources to help you to create a successful garden education program at your school or youth organization. www.childrensgardennetwork.org
- Kids Gardening: A resource of the National Gardening Association full of helpful tips geared towards kids on how to plan, plant and harvest your garden. www.kidsgardening.org
- Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy (Workman, 1999). This garden book has easy-to-use ideas for nine themed gardens—including a Pizza Patch, a Flowery Maze, a Moon Garden and a Garden of Giants—that parents and kids can grow together. Each garden includes a plan, growing instructions and fun activities.
- Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting and Sprouting by R. J. Ruppenthal (Chelsea Green, 2008). A practical how-to guide to planning and planting a garden in small spaces.
- Anno’s Magic Seed by Mitsumasa Anno (Puffin, 1999)
(Ages 4 and up)
- Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole (Greenwillow Books, 1997)
- Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (Sandpiper, 1992)
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (Picture Book Studios, 1990)
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009)
- Chart plant growth: Draw or cut pictures from magazines of what you planted in the garden and glue onto paper. Measure (with a ruler or stick) the height of each plant as it grows and mark measurements on your plant chart. Which plants grew the fastest?
- Learn how to compost: Compost is a form of recycling. Place organic vegetable scraps that would otherwise sit in a landfill, like apple cores or eggshells, and add “brown matter” (such as dried leaves) in a compost bin to speed up the natural process of decomposition and make the nutrients valuable to new plants.
- Make some garden art: Draw or cut out pictures of what you planted in the garden. Which vegetables grow above ground and which ones grow below?
- Make food: Cook up something yummy from your garden crop! Check out this fun and easy recipe for Fresh Garden Pizza!