School's Out for Summer

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I’ve always looked forward to lazy days in the summer and spending time together with my daughter Scyler. Now that there’s not a fixed schedule, we sleep in a smidge later, laze around a bit in our pajamas in the morning and spend sunny afternoons enjoying the sun outdoors. We have a house upstate—we swim, play tennis, chill out in our hammock, garden, eat al fresco and just enjoy being free from any set schedule. We spend a lot of our time planting and harvesting fresh food from our garden. I planted the 'green-thumb' seed in Scyler at an early age so she could not only enjoy playing in the dirt but got connected to our home grown food. I wanted her to understand how important it is to contribute to our family’s well-being and how to nurture a healthy planet. We’re always trying new things in the garden, so I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas that I hope will inspire you to do together with your kids in the garden this summer.
1. Turn those found nature objects into something new!

Sometimes Scyler and I would take a walk and find large, smooth stones. We’d paint them and use markers to designate what we’ve planted. Makes for a fun project.
We’ll also collect discarded plastic water bottles to use as hydration tools for some of the plants, herbs, vegetables or flowers that need a bit of constant moisture—things like tomatoes and cucumbers for instance. Carefully drill a few holes in the bottle cap. Cut the bottom off of the water bottle, fill it with water and let the water slowly seep into the plants.
We’ll also re-use water that we might have boiled vegetables in or used to make tea. Simply let the water cool and then re-use in the garden. Or even, use the entire bottle to make a vertical planter wall :)

And, for some of you with older children, here are a few fun ways to take your recycling to the next level this summer!

Look at this fantastic wall art made from old bottle caps, I love some of these ideas! http://www.lushome.com/how-recycle-plastic-bottles-outdoor-home-decorating-garden-design/160056

2. Watch as they grow!
There’s something contagious about the feel of dirt under your fingernails and the excitement of seeing a living thing sprout. I’m sure your kids are as curious as my daughter is. She likes learning by doing and she’s been doing since she was small!

Here are some suggestions for things to grow so that kids can see some immediate results:
Sunflowers: These sprout in just a week and within a month can be as much as 2’ tall. By month two the flowers will be plentiful and full of seeds. These can be collected and roasted for a delicious snack full or protein and rich in iron. .
Lettuces: They like some shade so you need to find a spot in the garden that can provide a bit of cool shade. Lettuces growing time is about 40 days
Radishes: These grow rather quickly. Takes about 3-10 days to germinate and you should have veg in about 20-25 days.
Snow peas: Take about ten days to germinate and mature in 40-60 days.
Nasturtium: This is a flower that can be eaten. Growing time is about 50 days. Usually red, yellow and orange flowers. These flowers are pest resistant, too.
Tomatoes: Big beefsteak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes are our favorites. Usually grows in about 45 days.

3. Document your process and share!

Be sure to involve your kids in the process all along the way. Watering the plants regularly is part of the process as is tending to the weeds and keeping animals and insects away from the growths. Scyler always liked it when I would photograph the progress that her plants had made. She liked to send the photos to her family abroad. Great idea to share your family’s progress on Instagram! And best of all is when we spend time together in the kitchen making great summer salads with our harvest—cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, parsley, mint, all drizzled with olive oil (and sometimes a little feta cheese). Mmmmm.

Have a great summer growing season!

 

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