It’s spring, which means it’s time to get out in the garden after a long, cold (well, maybe not so cold) winter and start planting. What do gardens have to do with kids’ nutrition? Everything. Of course, anything that you can grow naturally at home is probably healthier than what you can buy in the supermarket. But it’s also good for kids to know where “real” food comes from and how it grows. Even better, if your family composts, your kids can see the entire cycle of how a plant grows and then gives itself back to the earth.
We recently spent an afternoon in a gardening class with the amazing Geri Miller of Home Grown Edible Landscapes. Geri is a certified master gardener who has an incredible love and respect for all living things, and she has an uncanny ability to inspire people and make them feel like they can create and sustain beautiful gardens. (“You ALL have green thumbs,” she assured us.)
One of Geri’s major focuses is on food justice and creating a sustainable, organic food economy – and on sharing this knowledge with students (She has logged hundreds of volunteer hours in schools, particularly in the inner city, helping to start school gardens and giving kids the basic foundation for growing edibles). “The more you teach your children to grow something responsibly with a low impact on the earth, the better off the next generation will be,” she says.
OK – so where do we start? Geri advises that you begin by creating the healthiest possible soil, which is the foundation for all successful plantings (“Feed your soil, not your plants,” she says). Here are a few of her soil tips:
- Add organic matter (compost/ humus), which is the storehouse for all of the energy and nutrients that your plants and other soil organisms need.
- Avoid the use of pesticides, the cumulative effect of which can reduce the number and diversity of important soil organisms.
- Mulch by adding low-nitrogen fibrous organic materials to your garden’s surface to maintain important fungi.
- Do not apply synthetic fertilizers, which can break the relationship between plants and soil organisms.
Ready for planting? For great tips on getting your garden started for the spring, check out Geri’s page on Spring/Summer gardening.
Here’s to a bountiful harvest!