My Top 10 Reasons to Garden

Little girl standing in a vegetable garden with spade in her hand, second little girl by a scooter with rake and shovelIt’s SPRING. Warm weather makes me start planning for my flower and vegetable garden.  Why?

  1. Health — Growing your own makes it easier to get the fruits and vegetables needed for good health. Kids involved in growing or preparing fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them.
  2. Exercise — Gardening provides both cardio and aerobic exercise. Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening can burn up to 300 calories for women, almost 400 calories for men. Mowing the grass equals a vigorous walk, bending and stretching while planting compares to an exercise class, and hauling plants and soil is like weightlifting.
  3. Taste – Nothing matches the taste of green beans, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, or peppers picked fresh from the garden.
  4. Satisfaction — A weed less, mulched garden gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  5. Learning — The more I learn about plants and gardening, the more I want to know. Problems with insects or spots on leaves make me want to find the cause and learn how to keep plants healthy.
  6. Family time — Time spent planting, weeding, and harvesting with family is filled with talk and laughter.
  7. Friendship — Gardening expands your social circle. Whether it’s someone who lives down the street or halfway around the world on the Internet, gardeners love to talk about plants. Surplus tomatoes, a bouquet, or an extra plant are gifts to share with friends and neighbors.
  8. Creativity — Gardening provides an outlet for the artist in all of us, whether it’s planting a bed of perennials or arranging flowers in a vase.
  9. Beauty and love of nature — I love the colors, shapes, textures and smells of flowers.  Having flowers in my home gives me joy.
  10.   Links to the farm — Gardening takes time, effort and knowledge.  After lots of work, plants can be destroyed by hail, disease, or animals. I have a great deal of respect for those who farm for a living.

Notice anything missing in my top ten reasons to garden?  Saving money.  That’s because gardens don’t always save money. The article, “Can a Vegetable Garden Save You Money”?  by Cindy Haynes, Extension Horticulturist, gives tips to help you save money on your garden.  It’s from 2009, but the message still applies.

-pointers from Peggy

Waldorf Summer Salad

WOW, what an easy salad and one that kids love (it’s the marshmallows).

Because you can use almost any fruit, Waldorf Summer Salad is a great one to use with seasonal fruit. Right now, in Iowa, we have lots of luscious peaches, plums, cherries, berries and melons in the markets, so I probably wouldn’t make it with the apples and bananas shown in the picture.

Don’t make this salad too far ahead, but do let the kids help. If you need a few more servings, just add another fruit or two and a little more juice.

Waldorf Summer Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 medium apple, diced*
  • 1 banana, cut up
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup fruit juice (any kind)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • Optional: ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or peanuts

Instructions

  1. Place apple, banana, and raisins in a bowl. Pour juice over and stir to coat.
  2. Stir in marshmallows and, if desired, chopped nuts. Serve.
    *Invite your family to experiment with flavor combinations, such as pears, peaches, kiwi, canned pineapple, and other dried fruits.

Plan for Healthy Eating for Kids this Summer

Families in Iowa are getting ready for summer vacation. I’ve heard several discussions concerning how old children should be to stay home by themselves part or all of the day, household rules, and how to get siblings to get along when the parents are gone.

Eating is another routine that changes during the summer. Kids often get up later since they don’t have to go to school, they may skip breakfast, and just snack all day instead of eating meals.   

Sitting down to plan lunch meals with your kids is a good idea. This way the menu includes foods they like and can make themselves. As for snacks, consider preparing two snack boxes—one for the refrigerator and one for the cupboard. Parents or adults choose what goes in the box and children choose what they would like to eat from the box. The University of Missouri Extension has a handout called Pack a snack box with healthy ideas for getting started. 

Remember, you are in charge of buying food. If you only buy healthy foods, that’s what the kids will have to eat.

Next week, recipes for kids…

-pointers from Peggy

The Sandwich—Suitable for Royalty

Apparently, sandwiches were invented in the 18th century when the Earl of Sandwich asked for his meat to be served between slices of bread, to avoid interrupting a gambling game or getting his cards greasy. If the Earl were alive today he probably would have invented sandwiches so he could eat while driving, or to avoid getting his cell phone dirty!

I love sandwiches because they are so versatile and convenient. Sometimes I make sandwiches ahead and freeze them. It saves time and is a great way to use those bits of leftovers. 

Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a great snack for me. When I have a couple of slices of whole wheat bread at the end of the loaf, I spread a little peanut butter on both sides of the bread and put the jelly in the middle. This assembly method will help reduce sogginess.

Summer is coming! Consider adding frozen sandwiches to a cooler to keep everything colder longer.

University of Nebraska has a useful tip sheet for Freezing Sandwiches.

-pointers by Peggy

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