grandkids and kids

Gardening for Babies and Kids

growing what kids like

If you have little ones in your life, and you are a gardener, then you are doubly blessed.
Choosing what to plant for healthy baby food and for older kids should center on two main things:

1. What produce has the most pesticides in it, and
2. What do kids like?

The first one is easy. The Environmental Working Group is the wonderful non-profit that has compiled this information.

Fruits are some of the worst things to give a baby, unless they are grown organically. If you cannot have room for a few dwarf sized trees, try to buy organic versions of apples, peaches and nectarines. Strawberries are also highly hit with pesticides, but are very easy to grow and preserve. Likewise, grapes.

On the vegetable side celery, cucumbers, summer squash and sweet bell peppers are more items with the worst levels of pesticides. All are easy enough to grow.

When it is time to introduce baby to greens, again it is better if they are homegrown or at least organic. Kale can be grown almost year round even here in Zone 5/6.

What little one doesn’t like mashed potatoes? Guess what, they are not only hit with pesticides on the root ends, but then herbicides are applied on the tops before harvesting. They are so simple to grow, really, and easy to store.

So now your garden is keeping baby’s diet cleaner, what will little ones also like to eat? Probably not broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or cauliflower, though there are exceptions. We used to marinate fresh cauliflower in oil and vinegar with Italian seasonings when our kids were younger and they loved it.

Carrots are sure to be a favorite, and homegrown ones are so sweet they are like candy. Green beans are generally bland, so kids go for them. Choose a stringless variety to make things easier.

Every garden should sport at least one tomato plant. For taste, we recommend sungold cherry tomatoes, for older kids.

Still got room for more? Butternut and acorn squash are so healthy, and generally well received by little ones.

Check out the baby food aisle at your local market for ideas on veggie combos to blend for smaller kids, and to combine for older ones. Adding some pears and strawberries to shredded fresh spinach may just be the ticket to get older kids to eat their greens.


Categories: grandkids and kids, you are what you eat


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Sundays in the Garden – with Sprout

“There is a place in your heart you didn’t know existed, until you become a grandparent.”

The real moment y heart was stolen.

The real moment my heart was stolen.

A few of my friends who have had this wonderful experience shared sentiments like this with us when we found out our daughter and son-in-law were expecting.

After just 9 fast months his grip on our hearts has only become stronger, and we look forward to every moment, every smile, with him.
In fact, we hope this to be the first post of a series of many moments in the garden with Sprout.
Moments we were not sure would ever happen.

You see, our daughter has a non-uncommon condition known as PCOS. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that it makes it difficult, if not impossible to become pregnant.

She tried the ‘Octo-Mom drug’ as she humorously referred to it, but it was a no-go.
Things were not looking too good.
“Try losing weight” I suggested, knowing full well that this condition also makes that a very difficult thing to do.

She worked hard and did lose a lot of weight, but still it was not helping.
Then almost out of nowhere, she got the news.

Getting bigger.

Getting bigger.

“I’ve got a creature!” she announced; she’s too funny.
I was driving at the time, and could not wait until the next exit so I could pull over and take in the moment.

There were more pregnancy issues, finally ending in bed rest the last few months.
The labor was nasty too, but that doesn’t matter anymore.
Out the beautiful boy finally came, albeit late, and weighing in at over 9 lbs.
“He’s huge!” the Doctor commented.

“He’s gorgeous!” was what I saw.

Today in the garden.

Today in the garden.

He is currently entered into a contest where he could win a photo shoot by the same photographer than was at their wedding. How appropriate.
At the moment he is in the lead, but that could change at any moment. There are only 9 days left, so if you would like to lend your support, you need only click this link, scroll down just a bit then click ‘vote’.
You do not need to register, ‘Like’ or do anything else.

Smartphones, ipads, ipods, nooks, crannies and other such devices can vote multiple times. Thanks for your help!

In the meantime we are looking forward to next spring, when Sprout will be 1 1/2, and old enough to do some real gardening.

We are also hoping for the best, you see- they are going to try for miracle #2.

Categories: grandkids and kids, sundays in the garden



Vegetables from Scraps? Yep, You Can Grow That!

Heaven knows where it started, but bloggers, Facebookers, Pinheads and more are sharing information on regrowing vegetables from their scraps.

Some of these we Joneses already knew about, and for many years. Horseradish, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and garlic have been in the gardens for a long time. One we knew but never tried is ginger.

Others, such as celery, leeks and romaine lettuce came as a surprise.

So we decided to check it out and see if it is true.
Here are some of the results:

Who knows what's below?

Who knows what’s below?

The ginger is doing well, in spite of taking a hit during an unusual cold snap. After growing it for a year, it’ll be interesting to see the results.
At least it’s sooner than a pineapple.

The mini veggie garden.

The mini veggie garden.

We also started leeks, celery and romaine lettuce bottoms in water. Changing the water every few days keeps it fresh and full of nutrients the plants need.

So far, so good.

So far, so good.

After 2 weeks we were impressed with the new growth.

Romaine, yes. Iceberg? Probably not.

Romaine, yes. Iceberg? Probably not.

The romaine lettuce is doing great. I have heard some people say they have been able to get multiple plantings from just one plant. I must say that would be pretty neat.

Will it grow the best part?

But will it grow the best part?

The leek is also coming along. Since what you eat is the white bottom portion, we’ll keep an eye on this one. If it shows any evidence of a bulb, we’ll ‘hill’ some soil around it to encourage more white.

Now on many of these posts and shares, carrots are mentioned.
The truth is you cannot get a carrot from scraps; you see, even mis-information gets shared.

Wait for the greens to grow.

Wait for the greens to grow.

What you can get are seeds, something we in the north don’t normally see.
This is something I learned as a kid. Hollow out a carrot top and fill it with water. Add more water as needed. It will sprout and eventually bloom.
So for old time sakes I started one and it’s in the kitchen window. When I get some string, I will hang it up there like the one that used to hang in my bedroom almost 50 years ago…
Before I knew that the pretty flowers could give me something to plant.

So can you grow vegetables from scraps?
Yep, some at least. All in all this has been fun to try, and we’ll post more info as we get it.
If nothing else, we’ll have a little free food as well as an activity to do with our grandson.

Update 6/13/13: the carrot shriveled up. This was at least partly my fault for neglecting it. I know this works having done it before, so am going to try and wait until I have a nice large organic carrot form our garden. Perhaps that will make the difference.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage and help others learn to grow.
You can find additional posts by clicking on the pic above. You can also follow us on Pinterest.

Categories: grandkids and kids, techniques, you can grow that



Love? You Can Grow That!

you can grow that

The You Can Grow That! theme for February is love, an easy subject for a new grandmother.
From the very moment the upcoming birth announcement was made my life was forever changed, more than I could even imagine.


Stealing Grammie's heart.

“You are what you eat” is much more than just an expression, and I knew right away I wanted to help ‘Sprout’s’ food be as healthy as possible.
Organic baby food is incredibly expensive, yet so simple to make.

grocery store baby food

A jar of carrots should contain carrots, maybe a little water, and nothing else.
The only way to really know what is in a baby’s food is to make it yourself.

Here’s one Grammie’s tips for healthier baby food:

1. Grow or buy organic the vegetables most likely to have higher doses of pesticides. Here’s the list.
2. If space is limited, plan your garden based on what foods you expect the baby to be eating. Carrots, peas, beans and squash are much more likely to be in his diet than eggplant and peppers.
3. Learn to safely can foods and how to properly freeze, and which foods can be stored fresh the longest. Check some of the links to the right under ‘How to Store’ to learn more.
4. Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for introducing new foods to the baby.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at the grocery store shelves for fruit and veggie combo ideas. Trust me, a lot of research went into it already.


Sprout's pout.

Aww, look at that face… I just may have to give over more of the garden.
Here’s a great resource for recipes and tips.

Categories: grandkids and kids, saving money & time, you are what you eat, you can grow that



Christmas Present(s)

Of course much of what happens at holiday time centers around giving and receiving.
This is a wonderful opportunity to teach children.

christmas 2012

our little tree

When ours were old enough to understand, we would take an afternoon and go through their toys.
“If you want good things to come to you” we would say, “you need to make room.”

It was a simple concept and the decisions were difficult, but they learned valuable lessons about sharing with others (some toys were chosen to be donated) and about not being materialistic.

You see, we didn’t have much money in those days, so it wasn’t like they had an abundance in the first place.

They never knew that; because they also learned that when you have enough to share, you have enough.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013 everyone!

Categories: grandkids and kids, Keeping up with the Joneses



Christmas Future

Christmas is the most exciting time of year for many kids.

“Mommy, when are we going to make the Christmas cookies?”
“Mommy, when are we going shopping?”
“Mommy, when are we going to get the tree?”
“Mommy, when are we going to watch Rudolph on TV?”

Multiply that by 2 and repeat throughout the day.

Christmas Calendar

parental sanity saving device

In an effort to reduce the stress this was causing both to them, and especially to me :-P , a Christmas Tradition was born.

Every year as Thanksgiving approached, I would draw a calender showing all the upcoming events and when they could expect them.
Each child would take turns crossing off the days, and both were happy they knew what to expect.

“Ahhh..” sighed Mom.

Not only did it alleviate the holiday stress, something unexpected happened.
Mom became more organized.

Categories: grandkids and kids, Keeping up with the Joneses


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Christmas Past

The most wonderful thing happened this year- Mandolin and I became grandparents, just one week before Christmas.

our grandson Sprout


With the holiday approaching, my daughter and her husband started considering what they will do when the time comes to talk to Sprout about Christmas.

You see, we didn’t tell her and our other kids about a jolly fat man in a red suit, we told them the story of St. Nicholas; and concluded it with
“And although he lived a long time ago, each year his giving spirit fills the house with happiness.”

If they thought that spirit came down a chimney and said Ho Ho Ho, well they didn’t get that story from us.


his eyes how they twinkle

Of course this leaves out that perceived parental advantage of
“Santa is watching, you better be good.”

But then, that was something we never really needed.

The Story of St. Nicholas

Categories: grandkids and kids, Keeping up with the Joneses



12 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies -pt. 2

In yesterday’s post we started looking at ways to get kids (and maybe even husbands) to eat more veggies.
Here’s a few more ideas:

yuca chips

not your everyday tater

7. Think outside the bag.

There are a lot of veggies that can be sliced and baked or dehydrated to make chips.
Shown above are Yuca Chips, you can also make chips from zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes and even kale.
There are two links below; you can also try different things or I’m sure find more recipes online.

8. Make it available.

If your kids have access to healthy choices rather than junk food, that’s what they will eat.
We used to keep a jar of cauliflower florets in Italian Dressing in the fridge for our kids to snack on.
Other times they would find containers of sliced celery, carrots, and fresh green beans in there.
They had fun ‘helping themselves’ and I knew they were eating something good.
It was rare for us to have anything unhealthy in the house, but when we did it was put away for special occasions only.

9. Go Veggie.

spring rolls

playing with food

Take one night each week and make it an all-veggie meal.
The picture above is of uncooked spring rolls- STW and I had fun choosing our fillings and dipping sauces to make our own combos.
Talk about nutritious!
You can also make a veggie pizza, vegetable lasagna, vegetable stew… you get the idea.

10. Let them help cook.

This is probably the best way to get a child to eat veggies, while at the same time teaching them life skills.
I remember my son standing on a step stool at the stove- the oven mitts he was wearing went all the way to his armpits.
He was making, with help, scrambled eggs and veggies- a simple recipe to us, a great sense of accomplishment to him.
Wouldn’t they be proud to serve their own Personal Crustless Quiches some night for dinner!

personal crustless quiche

fun fun fun!

11. Let them grow it.

Anyone is more likely to eat veggies they grew themselves.
My FB friend Antoinette told me her daughter started eating eggplant, kale and turnips after helping in the garden.
Alright, so her daughter is 36- better late than never.

12. Teach them where their food REALLY comes from.

Food doesn’t come from a Fast-Food Drive-Through Window.
Not REAL food.
Food comes from a garden or a farm- show them that.
Food comes from the heart and the hand- not wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam- show them that too.

We’ve become disassociated from our food in this country, and that’s sad.
There is no other basic human need that involves all of our senses and is something that is a shared experience- it should be celebrated, not just shoved in our mouths.

Make the time to take the time to make a meal together at least once a week, and make what we do eat that much more special.

Okay, I’ll get down off my soap box now.
Here are a few links with recipes or other good info:

A Child’s Veggie Garden
No Cook Spring Rolls
Yuca Chips
Easy Veggie Chips and Dips
Spinach Pizza
Veggie Lasagna
Personal Crustless Veggie Quiches

Categories: grandkids and kids, you are what you eat


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12 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies -pt. 1

Kids and veggies, they just don’t go together.
Or do they?

Back in the day when Mandolin and I were facing undesirables on our plates, the method of choice was to make kids sit at the table until they finished their veggies.
It just made me want broccoli even less.

As adults, we’ve discovered ways to get kids not only to want to eat their veggies, but to like them too.

1. Switch your thinking first.

Instead of wondering what to have with the ham, think about it the other way around.
“What’s for dinner Mom?”
“Well, we’re having Green Bean Casserole, what should we have with it?”
“Let’s make a really big salad. Would you like to put some cheese chunks and ham strips in it?”

When you think of the veggie first, it changes the way your kids think too.

kids eating veggies

which would you prefer?

2. Give them the good stuff.

If my first taste of asparagus had been from a can, I may never have tasted it again.
Whenever possible, try to use fresh veggies- they just taste better.
Frozen next, canned last.
Of course, if you grow your own- that’s the best by far.

3. Make choosing veggies a game.

Whether you’re at the market or in the garden, letting kids choose the veggies will increase the chances they will eat it, so Play!
“Let’s pick two green veggies, two yellow ones, and one red or orange.”
Even the littlest ones can get involved in a game like that.
For older kids “Find two veggies that start with the letter ‘S’” can be fun to do.
And the kids are going to want to eat what they ‘found’.

kids like to be in charge

4. Make a menu.

Adding a visual element will help improve your chances of getting those veggies in your kids.
I found cute clip-art on Microsoft Word. Even little kids can point to the pic they want, and you can place it on the menu day.
Getting Dad involved helps too- and the kids will probably want to copy his choice next week.

When kids feel like they are part of the decision making, then they are more likely to participants as well- isn’t that true for adults too?

kids eating veggies

pretty enough to eat

5. Sweeten the deal.

Steamed Carrots – Honey Glazed Carrots – Baby Carrots with Avocado-Lemon Pesto

Which would you choose?
Personally, the only way I’ll eat broccoli is with cheese sauce.
Sometimes you just need to bring it up a notch.

6. Search the Internet

This may sound simplistic, but there is a ton of info out there not only on this subject specifically-
but what I think is even better, info on eating vegetarian.
Now I’m not suggesting you get meat out of your diet (I’d like to suggest it, but I’m not) but who can come up with more great ways to eat veggies than vegetarians?

Find their sites, try their recipes.
You may just eat a few new veggies yourself.
And that’s okay too. :-)

Here’s Part 2.

Categories: grandkids and kids



Growing Healthier Kids

Today is a busy day…
It is:

you can grow that day

1. Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That Day (the 4th. of each month)
2. Backyard Edibles Day (May 4th.)
3. First Friday- which means a Giveaway!

So I mentally rolled all these together into a ball, threw it up in the air and caught it.
What did I get?

You Can Grow That- Healthier Kids!

Okay…so I had some added inspiration:

growing a baby

my first grandbaby

Since you are reading this blog ::waves:: that means you are already gardening or at least thinking about it.

And if you have kids in your life-

your own
nieces and nephews
neighbors’ kids
you’re a teacher (thank you!)
at your place of worship
in your community-

However they are there, you can help make them grow healthier… something that they will then pass on.

gardening with kids

growing food is fun!

If you are thinking to yourself “I’m already working with kids and gardening.”
Congrats- that’s great!!!
Please share any tips or advice you have in the comments section below.

gardening with kids

water + soil + sun + seed + child

If you are wondering how you can get involved, or more involved- that’s where this blog comes in.
Every Friday in March we’ll be looking at ways to help us grow healthier kids- not just gardening, but with an emphasis on good nutrition and ways to make it fun.

And that brings me to today’s giveaway.
Sought after Yoga Instructor Melissa Russo decided to make a series of videos on Yoga for Kids called Yoga Journeys.
Pretty amazing, right? -wait, there’s more.

gardening with kids

what will we discover here?

Each video also has a Nutrition or Life Connection component- be it in the kitchen, in the garden, or in the community.
Her videos have so far aired on PBS in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Pa. area and in Binghamton N.Y.; and hopefully will soon find their way to a TV near you.

I was lucky to be in an episode with some wonderful kids; we talked and learned about gardening and seeds.
Mandolin is in it too- ‘noodling’ a jingle he wrote.

If you would like a chance to win a copy to share with the kids in your life, just leave a comment below.
If this is your first time, it will take a bit to get it approved- then it will show.

I would love to hear your thoughts on kids and nutrition- but that won’t help you win. :-)
I always do a random drawing from all entries the following Monday.

In the mean time, here are a few links to help you get started gardening with kids, and to inspire you to think about food in a different way.
(In other words- Do Your Homework!)

Connecting with Food- Why a Good Story Makes Food More Sustainable
Children Blossom While Learning to Garden in San Antonio

About Yoga Journeys Here you can learn more about the series, and purchase DVD’s to help support this non-profit volunteer effort.
Not only are they wonderful to share with your own kids, they would make a great addition to any school’s Health and Wellness program.


Find more You Can Grow That! links each month here
April’s You Can Grow That!

Categories: grandkids and kids, you can grow that



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