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Grow together

April 13, 2015
Amber Koski , MOV Parent

Growing season is almost upon us! Go green this year by engaging children in gardening to increase their knowledge, self-confidence and motor skills. Taking care of plants is not only a great activity to help children learn science concepts during the summer, but also to help them feel good about taking care of something all on their own! It will also get children excited about going outside and result in them being more physically active.

Gardening can also have a positive impact on a child's eating habits. A child is more likely to show an interest in a new food if they were involved in the growing process of it. Don't forget that half of their plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables! Try growing new foods like bell peppers, spinach, or squash to get your little one excited to try new vegetables. Gardening also teaches children how to eat produce when it is in season. Consider taking a trip to a local farmer's market and encourage the children to ask questions!

Sprouts can easily be grown in a window as an easy way to introduce gardening to your family. Items needed are: Seed packet (beans and peas are a great option); sandwich size zip-lock bag; paper towel; and masking tape.

First, fold a damp paper towel so that it fits inside of the zip-lock bag and place it inside. Next, place two seeds into the bottom of the bag. Seal up the bag, but don't forget to leave a small opening for air! Tape the bag on a window with the seed visible so that the children can watch it grow.

Once the seeds sprout, make sure to plant them outside! It is also very common to purchase plants that have already sprouted and plant them in the ground. For optimal growing, vegetable gardens need 6-8 hours/day of direct sunlight (in addition to water, nutritious soil, and love!). For most plants it is recommended to start planting outside in Ohio around mid-May. Be sure to read the labels that come on your seed packages for plant-specific information.

If your yard does not have enough space or sunlight for a garden, planting in pots is always a good option. It doesn't matter if pots are plastic or clay! Just make sure that each pot has a drainage hole in the bottom of it to prevent root rot, a common problem caused by overwatering. Many plants are overwatered and actually only need about 1/2-inch of water per week. Don't forget to place your pots in an area where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day!

Amber Koski is a dietetic intern at The Ohio State University.



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