April is National Gardening Month!

Celebrate National Gardening month by planting memories with your family.  Gardening is a great way to teach children where food comes from, encourage healthy eating, and connect with the whole family.   When your children have the opportunity to plant, water, and nurture plants, even the pickiest eaters will be eager to taste what they have grown.
Whether you have a large back yard or no yard, don’t worry…it is possible to grow a great garden on a windowsill, balcony, or even a small stoop.  The key is to know what can grow in your location.  Plants, like people have different likes and dislikes.  There are many plants that prefer smaller spaces and are perfect for small container gardens.  Below are a few vegetables that you can grow with your family this spring.
  • leaf lettuce
    Leaf lettuce is easy to grow in containers that are at least 4-6 inches deep, with a good potting soil mix.  Simply keep the soil moist, provide plenty of spring sunlight, and thin out crowded new seedlings when they start to come up, to give the plants plenty of room to grow.  To harvest, trim the leaves with scissors and the leaves will grow back and can be harvested a second time!  Lettuce prefers spring and fall over the hot summer sun and is usually ready to harvest in 30-45 days.  

  • carrots
    Carrots can grow well in containers that are 6-12 inches deep.  These plants like plenty of nutrients, sunlight, and water to grow.  Use a potting mix that has fertilizer added and mix in some bagged compost for the healthiest plants.  Keep the soil moist, but not too wet!  Place your container in sunny location and be sure to thin, or pull out crowded seedlings when the leaves are 1-2 inches tall, to make sure the plants have enough room to grow.  Look for colorful varieties, such as purple, yellow, or white carrots and harvest by gently pulling out of the soil in 75-80 days, when the leaves are full.  (If temperatures drop, the carrots will rest for a while, then begin growing when it warms up again.)
  • Swiss chard
  • Swiss chard can be grown in containers that are at least 8 inches deep.  Keep soil moist and provide plenty of sunshine.  The leaves and stems can be harvested by cutting them with scissors and the leaves will grow back for 2 to 3 more harvests.  Swiss chard is colorful, easy to grow, very healthy, and tastes great!  Seeds planted in April should be ready to harvest in June.

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall