Plant a Row, Grow a Row

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Gardeners, green-thumbs, and wannabes, as you are planning and/or planting your summer garden this weekend, consider London’s Plant a Row, Grow a Row Campaign. Founded in 2012 this program encourages you to plant a little bit extra in your garden and to donate that extra produce to the London Food Bank.

DID YOU KNOW?

The London Food Bank is able to easily collect and distribute non-perishables, but low income individuals/families also need the most important part of our diet: fresh fruit and vegetables. While you can imagine the obvious trouble with collecting such items in a drop off bin at a grocery store, they are able to collect and distribute fresh produce when it is brought directly to them.

PLANT A ROW, GROW A ROW

This time of year is the absolute easiest way to contribute to your London Food Bank by making space in your kitchen garden for a bit more produce. Did you grow more zucchini than you can handle? Decide kale is just not your thing? Have more tomatoes than you can can? Rhubarb running wild? Had enough beets for one season? Bring your excess to the London Food Bank! Either make the conscious decision to over-plant or just bring them whatever you don’t want. Pick it at it’s prime and get it to the Food Bank ASAP.

SEEDS

If altruism isn’t motivation enough to get on board with this, Plant a Row, Grow a Row has received a whole lot of seeds to give to you at no cost! Bush beans, pole beans, leaf lettuce, spinach, summer squash, cucumber, kale and beets are available for your garden. Just plant, grow, keep what you want and donate the rest back. See Facebook for more information.

 

 

 

Masonville Farmer’s Market

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The Masonville Farmers’ Market is opening for the season this Friday, May 8, bright and early at 8:00am and will be there until 2:00pm.

The Market is located in the Masonville Place Sears parking lot, off Richmond Street north, just south of Fanshawe Park Road.

The Masonville Farmers’ Market features farmers, bakers, and artisans from London and the surrounding area. This is a delicious opportunity to meet the people who actually farm your food and learn from them how it is grown, where it is grown, and to support them directly. While you’re there, treat yourself to a coffee at the mobile Fire Roasted Coffee truck, buy a sweet treat at one of the bakeries, pick up some specialty bread and some specialty jam to go with it, fresh bacon for breakfast, organic seedlings for your own garden, and of course all of the seasonal fruits and vegetables you can fit in your arms!

IF YOU GO

Remember that this is a local farmers market – you will find the best of the season, not the best of the world. Banana’s, mangoes, and oranges will be imported to the grocery store, not here!

Bring your own reusable grocery bags to cut down on the plastic.

Stop at a bank machine on the way so that you have lots of cash. There is a TD Canada Trust across the street, a Royal Bank across Fanshawe by East Side Marios, and various bank machines in the mall.

There is lots of free parking in the parking lot beside the market.

The Masonville Farmers’ Market is open every FRIDAY until the end of September. Visit weekly to get the best of the season, all season!

Growing Sweet Potatoes

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If you’re interested in a really simple and fun way to get your children interested in growing their own food, try some sweet potato slips! Unlike most vegetables, sweet potatoes are not grown from seeds, but are grown from other sweet potatoes. You know when you leave a sweet potato in your pantry a little too long and it starts to grow legs and attempt to crawl away? That’s all part of the magic!

HOW TO DO IT

Head out to the market or grocery store and select a nice looking sweet potato (or many!).

Get a large mouth transparent jar and fill it with water.

Insert 3-4 toothpicks about midway down the sweet potato and slowly lower it into the jar, having it suspend itself with the toothpicks (see the picture above).

Place your jar in a warm window or under a warm light.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Your sweet potato will begin to grow roots and sprout leaves! Kids will love being able to see the roots grow down and the stems reaching up for sunlight.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

When the weather is warm (i.e. June or July), you can carefully separate the slips from the original potato and plant them in containers or in your garden. They will need deep, loose soil and plenty of water to grow.

Growing Vegetables with Children

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This is the time of year when Ontarians start to plan their vegetable gardens and start seeds indoors. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or have never touched a pot of dirt in your life, gardening is possible! What’s more, it’s a great way to encourage children to learn about where their food comes from and grow some for themselves. Sharing this experience with your little ones may even get them more interested in trying some new foods, so give it a shot! After all, as moms, we know it’s a pretty incredible feeling to grow something beautiful.

WHAT TO GROW

The space you have will be a big factor in what you grow. If you have a sunny window, try something small like herbs. If you have a space in the yard you can play around with, go crazy! Here are some suggestions:

Herbs – they grow easily and can be used frequently. Kids can pick leaves and eat them anytime they like. Choose ones you’ll actually use! Basil, oregano, cilantro, mint, chives, etc.

Cherry Tomatoes – another one they can grab off the plant and snack on while they’re outside playing. Make sure they’re old enough to not choke!

Pumpkins – how much fun would it be to grow your own Halloween pumpkin or Thanksgiving pumpkin pie pumpkin? Kids will love to watch how big these can grow! Make sure you have a lot of space, these guys like to spread!

Radishes – if your kid happens to like these odd little root vegetables, then this is a definite for planting. They grow quickly and are harvested early in the season for quick gratification!

Beets – another fun root vegetable to grow because what of the big surprise when you dig it up! Let them guess what the vegetable under the ground is going to look like before you pull it up. And if they’re at the age where bathroom humour reigns, convince them to eat some and see what happens ;)

Carrots – carrots are a classic with kids. It is often one of the rare veggies that kids will eat and they’re fairly easy to grow in the ground or in deep containers. Part of the fun in growing your own is seeing all of the funny shapes they come in when you pull them up – they aren’t all perfect like at the grocery store! For bonus fun, plant rainbow carrots and do a little research as to why we mostly eat orange carrots now.

Bush Beans – you won’t have to worry about planting these beans near something they can grow up and they’ll be easy for little hands to reach in and pick. Fresh beans from the garden are hard for anyone to resist!

HOW TO PLANT

Seed packets will come with instructions as to whether you should start seeds indoors or plant them directly into the garden.

If you are going to start your own seeds, start now! Head to your nearest garden centre with the kids and have someone there instruct you on the best way to get them started with potting soil and starter pots. Another option is to have someone else (a nursery) start your seeds for you and buy seedlings (small plants ready to plant in the ground) later in the spring.

Planting directly into the ground happens anytime from now through summer, depending on the seeds/seedlings. If the instructions say ‘after last frost’ then you have to wait until the end of May to be safe.

Water your seeds regularly and wait for the magic to happen!