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Gardens as Learning Centers for Kids and Neighbors
It is surprising how few people -- adults and children alike -- really know where vegetables come from: Mother Earth. In this day and age, when inch-and-a-half peeled carrots come in lunch-size plastic bags, anyone whould be hardpressed to conceive that carrots are a root vegetable grown in the soil. Children are the gardeners of the future; you can encourage them to take part in the total vegetable gardening experience.
Too many children have been relegated to weeding and grow up without an appreciation of gardening -- the research in colorful catalogs, watching the sprouts break ground, cultivating and nurtuting the plants and protecting them from insects ... and of course, harvesting them! When children plant seeds, nurture them, and finally get to harvest the vegetables, they are in awe. Watch a child's eyes pop as a carrot emerges fromt he soil when he pulls on the greens.
Interestingly, chidlren who grow vegetables they normally spurn on the dinner table -- even broccoli and spinach -- will eat their own homegrown veggies!
Kids will munch them in the garden, so keep a source of water nearby for rinsing before eating.
it's easy to share the secrets of gardening casually with friends and neighbors -- learning by imitation. Integrate vegetables into a front or backyard garden for edible pizzazz. use your imagination.
Line your walkway with mixed salad greens by tossing together in a bowl an assortment of seeds: non-heading lettuces, spinach, dill, corn salad, red mustard, cilantro, mizuna, and curly endive. Then sprinkle the seeds on bare soil. Within a few weeks, the seedlings need thinning. Cut off the roots and they're perfect for a first salad. You'll find neighbors who are curious about the plantings. Let them have a taste. Encourage them to stop by in the late afernoons to help themselves to some fresh greens for dinner.
The only rule is to only take as many leaves or stems as you need for immediate use, harvesting one or two outer leaves from any plant.
It's fun for them as well as educational.
Grwoing vegetables brings out the best in all of us. Our nourishing instinct, patience, sharing, serenity, and a connection to the earth and oil. And, of course, all the exercise involved, and providing the best reward--food. Vegetable gardening from seed has a positive effect on all our senses.