Plant Now, Harvest Later

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What Families Can Plant Now to Harvest Later

By Angela Ardolino of Parenting with Angela, ParentingwithAngela.com

 

Food is the key to good health. It affects everything that our body does– it can make your life better or it can turn small problems into big problems. Pesticides and hidden chemicals in your foods can cause damage to the nervous system, upset stomach and can live in your children’s intestines for years.

 

Rather than relying on what a label tells me is in my food, I decided six years ago to start an organic garden at home so that I would know exactly what I am ingesting and to give my body a chance to enjoy good health. Plus, nothing tastes better than veggies grown in your own backyard. It is surprisingly easy and fun to do with the kids, too!

 

What to Grow this Season

One of the things I grow in my organic garden is organic basil. Basil packs a punch greater than just its delightful smell– it provides blood-clotting Vitamin K and magnesium and is also an antioxidant with antibacterial properties. It can be used in a variety of recipes and in some cultures is even used for medicinal purposes. Herbs tend to be some of the easiest things to grow if you are new to gardening as well. Some of my favorites and the easiest to grow are Basil and Rosemary.

 

There are lots of crops for fall in Central Florida, other than basic herbs . Things like bush and pole beans, tumeric, eggplant, peppers, squash, and tomatoes are great to plant in August and September. In October and November we can plant crops such as sweet potatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and strawberries. These are all relatively easy to plant and maintain and you will be able to harvest them in the coming seasons.

 

How to Get Started

Growing your own garden doesn’t have to be difficult and can be pretty fun to do with the kids. It will get everyone outside and will give you and your family a chance to learn something new together. I know that I am still learning new things every day with my organic garden.

 

We have very sandy soils throughout most of central Florida, so organic matter should be worked into your soil at least three weeks ahead of planting. Compost and mulches are great to use for this, but make sure that they are properly broken down so that they don’t harbor harmful bacteria. Stay away from soils enriched with chemicals and opt for healthy soil and compost. I have found healthy soils and fertilizers from Worm’s Way and Grace’s Hydroponics are a great solution.

 

Before you start growing, it is important to find the right seeds. I use High Mowing Organic Seeds, which are 100% organic.

 

If you are concerned with bugs and pests getting into your garden, consider planting a few flowers like chrysanthemums that beneficial insects will love– they will help keep the pesky bugs away.

 

Make sure to pay attention to the amount of water and sunlight that your seeds will need to grow. Growing basil and other herbs are often an easy way to start with organic gardening because they are relatively low-maintenance and yield wonderful results.

 

Get Your Hands Dirty

This is the part that kids love the most. Have the kids help dig the spots where you want to plant your seeds and let them be in charge of certain plants. This is a great way to show them the difference between what grows in the ground versus what grows above the ground and how to care for both types of plants. You can start an herb garden in pots and plant the larger plants in the ground, and have the kids learn the different ways that plants react depending on their environment. It is also a great time of year to teach kids about composting and how we can recycle some of our waste right into the soil.

 

Make sure you have a good pair of shears when it is time to harvest your plants, and let the kids get involved as well. If you want to try to plant something that is a little bit longer lasting, consider planting a butterfly garden as well. You can find instructions here.

 

To read more information about starting your very own garden, visit ParentingwithAngela.com.

 

By Angela Ardolino of Parenting with Angela, ParentingwithAngela.com

 

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