Great Greens – How on Earth Do They Grow?

Earth Day is almost here – how will you celebrate the 45th Anniversary? The idea of taking care of the planet is overwhelming for young children, but if you create positive, engaging activities you will actually help foster a greater sense of conscientiousness and responsibility for the earth.

Let’s start with Great Greens! The magic of planting a seed and watching it grow is a positive experience for a child; it also teaches the importance of caring for something or someone else. Plants need healthy soil and that includes nutrients and water – just like what we need to thrive everyday.

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Whether you live in an apartment or have a big yard there is always a way to grow something edible – from herbs in a windowsill to carrots in rows in the backyard – what will you plant to promote a sense of wonder and empathy for the earth?

This week we found artichokes and asparagus popping up in the produce section – do you know how they grow? As you pick your seeds or potted plants take a moment to share the magic of these vegetables and then experiment with recipes.

Artichokes – the Edible Flower Vegetable!Untitled

Artichokes look like flowering pinecones and they can grow to six feet wide. You can grow an artichoke plant from a seed, with shoots taken from existing plants, or with dormant roots. And they grow just about anywhere in the United States.

Artichokes are also very healthy; artichokes are an excellent source of folic acid, Vitamin-C, and Vitamin K, which helps promote bone health.

Our favorite way to eat an artichoke is steamed; you can easily share petal-by-petal. The best part is when you are done push away the furry inside and really get to the heart of the flavor. The heart is delicious plain or try with melted butter or other favorite dips!

Stalking Wild Asparagus

Asparagus

They are one of the first veggies to pop up from the ground to welcome spring. Rich in Vitamins B and C, and also calcium and iron Asparagus are often found green in the supermarket but also come in purple and white.

Since they grow straight up from the ground, you can cut them at about six inches down. They will grow for twenty years after the first harvest.

Fun Asparagus Facts

Asparagus Plant

  • White asparagus is not a variety, but simply asparagus grown in the absence of sunlight to prevent chlorophyll from developing. White asparagus is slightly sweeter, but has less fiber than green asparagus.
  • Purple asparagus is bred to be purple in color, but turns green when it is cooked. Purple varieties tend to have thicker but fewer spears.
  • Asparagus takes three years to grow from seed to harvest! Once they get going, asparagus plants can be cropped each spring for 15 years or more, butthe spears start out the diameter of pencil lead in year one. The plants gain strength in year two and by the following spring, some of the spears are reaching the full diameter of a pencil, signaling they’re ready to harvest.

Like the artichoke, Asparagus are delicious steamed and then nibbled on hot or cold. They are often drizzled with butter or lemon juice– what is your favorite recipe? Share with us in the comments below or on Facebook!

Resources and Recipes:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

http://www.almanac.com/plant/asparagus

http://www.almanac.com/recipe/asparagus-frittata

Gardening Activity

http://gardening.about.com/od/kidsgardeningprojects/ht/GardenBucket.htm

Recipes

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cook_and_eat_an_artichoke/

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/4796/how-to-grow-artichokes/page/all

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