Lettuce Start Gardening!

Silly title -I know – but Spring has sprung here in Iowa and I am so excited to start growing some food on my back patio. Getting my herbs and vegetables planted is such a fun way to celebrate the warmer weather. Fresh veggies from the garden taste so good and growing your own food saves serious money.

I do not have space to plant a garden in the ground, so I use planters and pots on my patio. It is amazing how much food you can grow in a tiny space. There will be a point this summer when I can barely keep up with it!

Salad greens grow very well in containers. Here are some steps to get you started!

  1. Review the Iowa State University Container Vegetable Gardening Guide. It has all of the basics to help you get started.
  2. Choose a large pot (1 gallon minimum) with drainage holes.
  3. Put a layer of rocks or gravel in the bottom and then fill with potting soil.
  4. Use your finger to create a trench about one inch deep and sprinkle seeds about every inch in the trench. Repeat this process with an additional row or two leaving 4 inches between rows.
  5. Put your pot where bunnies and deer cannot get it. They love lettuce and they will eat it!
  6. Water the soil (not the leaves) as often as necessary to keep it moist. It does not need to be soaking wet, but should not get completely dry either. I typically water my vegetable containers every 1-2 days during the heat of the summer.
  7. After about three weeks, you will have leaves to harvest. Clip the leaves, leaving the plant base behind. The plant will grow more leaves!

This month our blogs are all about growing your own fruits and vegetables. We hope you’ll find some good ideas whether you’re just starting out or a certified green thumb. Please comment on our Facebook page or tweet us and let us know your favorite things to grow!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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How to Prepare Broccoli

Recently my son brought home a card from school to keep track of the fruits and veggies he eats. Our local hospital does a program at the elementary schools to encourage the kids to be active and eat fruits and vegetables. If the kids eat 50 fruits and vegetables by a certain date, they get a special token.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my son does not eat many vegetables. Some raw carrots, some roasted sweet potatoes, and maybe some spinach leaves with a bit of ranch. However, maybe he’ll branch out a bit to get that special token!

One vegetable that I’m going to use in our meals the next few weeks is broccoli. It’s in season during the Spring so is a good time to buy it. I’m thinking I will serve it raw with hummus or a bit of ranch dressing. I may also serve it cooked as part of our Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies. Hopefully Parker will give it a try one of these ways and we can mark it on his chart!

You can save money by buying broccoli in whole heads rather than pre-cut pieces. If you’re not sure how to cut broccoli, watch our new video How to Prepare Broccoli.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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