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kids

A Clean Living Expert Dishes the Dirt on Family Gardening

Tips from Terry Walters

family gardening!

You know the story: Kids love dirt. So why not thicken the plot and start a family garden?

Author (Clean Food, Clean Start), James Beard Foundation award nominee, mom, and clean-living expert Terry Walters has tips on doing it from the ground up.

Start with the fun stuff … and kale.
Sugar snap peas, strawberries, and green beans are perfect for little mouths and fingers. Kids also love carrots, because they see only green growing above ground and are surprised when the veggie is harvested. Make kale enticing by adding it to sauce, soup, stir-fry, mac ’n’ cheese, or even smoothies.

Buy seeds beyond the hardware store.
A number of online resources make seed ordering a breeze. The most well known is Seed Savers Exchange. Other favorites include Seeds of Change, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Fedco. Walters also hits local farms. For a list of those in your area, go to LocalHarvest and Slow Food USA.

Get friendly with companion plants.
Intersperse pungent onions and chives to keep pests away. Some insects, like bees, help plants resist disease. Attract them by growing borage or edible flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtium.

Timing is everything.
Spreading things out over the course of days, weeks, or months ensures a steady flow. For much of spring, keep flats of planted seeds in the garage at night and pull them into the sun during the day. After the final frost (usually mid-May in colder climates), transplant seedlings into outdoor containers or your garden.

Better late than never.
If you don’t have the patience for planting seeds or simply didn’t get to it in time (understandable), go straight to seedlings. Produce like melons, squash, and pumpkins can be planted later in the summer and early fall.

Give back.
Composting is a key part of the food cycle. Turn food scraps back into nourishment for your soil, and plants will have better results year after year. Not to mention, it makes a smaller footprint on our environment.

We dare you not to dig that.

For more tips on clean living, go to terrywalters.net.

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Photos: Sonya Farrell / Getty Images; Courtesy of Abe’s Market