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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parent Resource: July, August and September

July



Family Garden Activity: Visit a Farmers Market

July is a wonderful time of year to take a family trip to your local farmers market and see what’s growing in your area. At a farmers market, you’ll discover what crops grow in your area, meet people growing local foods and try new fruits and vegetables. You can give your family a challenge, such as trying a piece of produce in every color of the rainbow. Let your child help pick out some fresh fruits or vegetables to snack on, pay the farmer and carry the bag. Much of what you buy may disappear before you get back to the car! To find a farmers market near you, visit www.localharvest.org/.

 Seasonal Recipe: Cool Cucumber Soup
(Adapted from Salad People by Molly Katzen)

Ingredients:
2 medium cucumbers
1 cup plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt
10 leaves fresh mint
2 teaspoons honey
Nonstick spray for the honey spoon

Steps:
1. Peel the cucumbers, then halve them lengthwise.
2. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.
3. Cut the cucumbers into large chunks.
4. Place the cucumber in the blender with the yogurt, mint and honey.
5. Puree until smooth—or mostly smooth.
6. Serve cold. You can serve in bowls with spoons or pour into cups for drinking.

Note: This soup separates if kept in the fridge for more than a day. To re-blend, shake the
container or stir from the bottom.

Yield: 3-4 servings (2 cups total)

Nutrition Tip:

At the farmers market, you also may be able to buy fruit in large quantities, such as a whole

flat of strawberries. At the end of the day, farmers are often especially eager to unload leftover

produce at a good price. Take home as much as you can carry and you can freeze for later
use in smoothies, jams or with yogurt.

Storybooks:
These are wonderful stories to read as you and your family delve into gardening and
cooking together:

Who Grew My Soup, by Tom Darbyshire
Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert
Grandpa’s Garden Lunch, by Judith Caseley
The Ugly Vegetables, by Grace Lin

Summer Gardening Tips:

Watering: With newly planted seeds, you’ll need to water frequently enough so that the soil
never dries out. Once the seeds sprout, you can water less frequently. To determine if your
garden needs water, use the squeeze test: Dig a hole as deep as your plants’ roots. Take a
handful of soil from the hole and squeeze it. If no ball forms, water right away. If a ball forms
but breaks apart with a few gentle taps, think about watering soon. If the ball sticks tight or
oozes, wait to water. When you water with a watering can or fan nozzle, sprinkle an area
until the water makes the soil shine and then move on to another area. As the water seeps
into the soil, the shine will disappear, and then you can return to that area and water it again.
Do this repeatedly, until the soil is moist to the depth of the roots.

Mulching: You can add mulch to keep the moisture in your soil. Sprinkle compost, leaves,
straw, hay, newspaper, wood chips, bark or sawdust over your soil and around your
plants to block weeds and hold in moisture. Remove mulch in the cool months to allow the
soil to warm.

Pest Control: With kids in the garden, it’s best to avoid pesticides, herbicides and other
potentially harmful chemicals. So how do we keep the pests away? Here are some tips:

• Ask local garden centers for suggestions on plant varieties that are pest-resistant and 
well suited to your area.


Create pest barriers, such as deer fences around your garden, gopher wire under you

beds or bird netting or row cover crop over your plants.


• Add compost to your soil. Just like healthy people, healthy well-fed plants have stronger
defenses against diseases and pests.

• Hand pick pests off plants. “Snail patrol” is a favorite garden activity of many young
children. Once you have collected snails, the best way to protect your garden is
to kill them. If you have chickens or know anyone who does, you can feed the snails to
the chickens.

Harvesting: As plants produce ripe fruits and vegetables, it’s time for you and your kids to
harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. To harvest root crops, loosen the soil with a
digging fork and pull. For leaf crops, pick off outer leaves at the base, leaving the plant in
the ground to continue growing. Turn fruits up toward the sky. If the stem breaks off, it was
ripe. If it requires more of a tug, leave it on the plant to ripen. Most importantly, don’t be shy
about harvesting. The more you pick, the more food a plant will produce.


August


Family Garden Activity: Have a Harvest Party


With so many fruits and vegetables ripening in the garden, late summer is a wonderful time to host a

harvest party. Invite your family and friends to bring a dish featuring a seasonal fruit or vegetable,
including tomato basil salad, corn on the cob, summer squash lasagna and apple crisp. If you have
space, you can set up a large table and host the party in the garden. You can decorate for your party
with seasonal objects from the garden.

Seasonal Recipe: Pesto

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
. cup olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted, unoiled pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves

Steps:
1. Place a few handfuls of basil leaves into food processor or blender with ½ of the oil. Whip
until well chopped. Continue adding basil a few handfuls at a time until you have added all of it.
2. Add the nuts and garlic, and blend again.
3. Add the Parmesan cheese and blend while slowly drizzling in the rest of the olive oil. You
may need to stop occasionally to scrape down sides of the container.
4. Process pesto until it forms a thick, smooth paste. Serve over pasta, on pizza, or on crackers.

Nutrition Tip:
Late summer is a great time to visit a local you-pick farm to harvest and enjoy fruit together. When
you get home, you can stock up your freezer for future smoothies.

Storybooks:
These are wonderful stories to read as you and your family delve into gardening and
cooking together:

Corn, by Gail Gibbons
Corn is Maize, by Aliki
The Popcorn Book, by Tomie dePaola
Whose Garden is It?, by Mary Ann Hoberman

 Summer Gardening Tips:

Watering: With newly planted seeds, you’ll need to water frequently enough so that the soil
never dries out. Once the seeds sprout, you can water less frequently. To determine if your
garden needs water, use the squeeze test: Dig a hole as deep as your plants’ roots. Take a
handful of soil from the hole and squeeze it. If no ball forms, water right away. If a ball forms
but breaks apart with a few gentle taps, think about watering soon. If the ball sticks tight or
oozes, wait to water. When you water with a watering can or fan nozzle, sprinkle an area
until the water makes the soil shine and then move on to another area. As the water seeps
into the soil, the shine will disappear, and then you can return to that area and water it again.
Do this repeatedly, until the soil is moist to the depth of the roots.

Mulching: You can add mulch to keep the moisture in your soil. Sprinkle compost, leaves,
straw, hay, newspaper, wood chips, bark or sawdust over your soil and around your
plants to block weeds and hold in moisture. Remove mulch in the cool months to allow
the soil to warm.

Pest Control: With kids in the garden, it’s best to avoid pesticides, herbicides and other
potentially harmful chemicals. So how do we keep the pests away? Here are some tips:

• Ask local garden centers for suggestions on plant varieties that are pest-resistant and
well suited to your area.

• Create pest barriers, such as deer fences around your garden, gopher wire under you
beds or bird netting or row cover crop over your plants.

• Add compost to your soil. Just like healthy people, healthy well-fed plants have stronger
defenses against diseases and pests.

• Hand pick pests off plants. “Snail patrol” is a favorite garden activity of many young
children. Once you have collected snails, the best way to protect your garden is to
kill them. If you have chickens or know anyone who does, you can feed the snails to
the chickens.

Harvesting: As plants produce ripe fruits and vegetables, it’s time for you and your kids to
harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor. To harvest root crops, loosen the soil with a
digging fork and pull. For leaf crops, pick off outer leaves at the base, leaving the plant in
the ground to continue growing. Turn fruits up toward the sky. If the stem breaks off, it was
ripe. If it requires more of a tug, leave it on the plant to ripen. Most importantly, don’t be shy
about harvesting. The more you pick, the more food a plant will produce.


September

 Family Garden Activity: Pressed Leaves

Colorful leaves are treasured signs of fall. To capture some of this beauty and bring it indoors,
take a walk with your kids and collect dry fallen leaves. The more intact the leaves are, the
better. See how many colors you can find. When you get home, set each leaf between pages
toward the back of a heavy book. Stack more heavy books on top and let them sit for about
two weeks. When you remove the leaves, they should be dry and flat. Glue pressed leaves
onto note cards to make stationary sets, or use cardstock to create pressed leaf bookmarks.
You can also brush the underside of the leaves with acrylic paint and then press the leaf,
paint-side-down, onto gift bags or brown kraft paper to make homemade gift wrapping.

Seasonal Recipe: Applesauce

Ingredients:
Up to 5 pounds of apples
100% apple juice

Steps:
1. If you have a food mill, cut the apples in half or in quarters if they’re large. If you do not
have a food mill, core and peel the apples and then cut them into halves or quarters.
2. Pour about half an inch of apple juice into a pot, add the apples and place over medium
heat. Cover.
3. When the water starts to boil, uncover the pot. Cook the apples for about 30 minutes,
stirring and mashing occasionally until the apples reach your desired consistency.
4. If you have a food mill, pass the mixture through to get smooth applesauce. If not, enjoy a
chunky applesauce.
5. You can freeze applesauce in glass jars and defrost as necessary.

Tip: Remember, applesauce is delicious when served warm. It also makes a great, kidfriendly
compliment to savory dishes, such as pork chops or beef stew.

Nutrition Tip:
Involve your children in selecting fruits and vegetables at the farmers market or grocery store.
Give them the grocery list and have them find each fruit or vegetable. The more involved they
are in every step of acquiring and preparing food, the more likely they will be to eat and enjoy it.

 Storybooks:

These are all wonderful stories to read as you and your family delve into gardening and
cooking together.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman
Apples, by Gail Gibbons
The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree, by Gail Gibbons
Johnny Appleseed, by Steven Kellogg

Fall Gardening Tips:

Saving Seeds: A great way for kids to learn about the life cycle of a plant is harvesting
seeds from a fully-grown plant in the fall, then sowing those seeds and watching new plants
emerge and grow in the spring. To get started, look around the garden together for plants
that have produced full-sized seeds, such as beans, peas, corn, sunflowers and lettuce. Let
the seeds dry on the plant for as long as possible and then, before any big rain falls, gather
seeds from each plant. For beans and peas, pick off the pods. For corn, gather whole ears
and for sunflowers take off entire flower heads. For lettuce, place a paper bag under the
flowering stalk and shake to let the seeds fall in. Then, remove the beans and peas from the
pods, place all of the seeds in a single layer on newspaper and allow them to dry in a warm
room with plenty of airflow. Stir regularly to keep them from molding. Once they’re dry,
remove the corn from the cobs and the sunflower seeds from the flower. Store seeds in well
marked, tightly sealed envelopes. Kids often enjoy decorating seed envelopes with pictures
and information about the plants.

Drying Herbs: Fall is a good time to collect fresh herbs and dry them for use in the winter
months. Use sheers to cut sprigs of your favorite herbs: dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,
thyme, and the like. Cut at least 6 inch stems and trim leaves from the bottom. Once you
have enough of one herb to fill your hand, bind together with a rubber band. You may want
to attach a label to the herb because they often look similar once dry. Hang herb bundles
upside down in a warm, dry, dark place, such as a closet or garage. You may want to put an
old sheet underneath the bundles to catch debris. If you don’t have a dark area, you can
also poke holes in paper bags and cover each bundle with a bag. Allow to dry for two
weeks, and then store in airtight containers.

Cleaning Up the Garden: As the days become shorter and chillier, your summer plants will
start to fade. It’s time to pull them out and prepare your garden for winter. Remove all of the
supports or trellises and all of the spent plants from your garden, and rake up any debris.
Cover the ground in a layer of compost or composted manure. You can plant a cover crop
such as rye, clover, buckwheat or bell beans, or let your garden rest until the spring. If you
live in an area with mild winters, you can plant a fall garden with cool weather crops such as
leafy greens, broccoli and peas.

Planting Bulbs: In areas with cold winters, you can plant bulbs as long as the soil is soft
enough to dig. Dig a hole about three times the diameter of the bulb. Mix some bone meal
into the soil at the bottom of the hole and plant the bulb with the pointed side up. If you
struggle with rodents, plant the bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth, or stick with
daffodils, which most animals avoid. Fill the hole with soil and water immediately. From then
on, you should only need to worry about water if you’re having an unusually dry winter.
Come spring, your efforts should be colorfully rewarded!


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