We are so thrilled to have our "Little Green Thumb" blogger, Deirdre Evans back for another season with great ways to get out in the garden and start growing with the kids.
Growing strawberries- yum!
Inspiring young gardeners with juicy strawberries can start early. One plant, planted by a one year old will be a healthy patch of twenty or more plants by the time they are four! Of course, there is nothing like a juicy straberry picked fresh from the garden. Inspired to grow strawberries with your kids? Here are a few easy tips.
Give a child their own plant. Rule of thumb, the number of plants a child looks after should equal their age, so a 2 year old can easily look after two plants, a 4 year old, four plants. Depending on space you can either plant the plants in a pot, or in a garden. If you are planting in a pot, you will just need to water a bit more often. Giving your child their own garden or pot to look after gives them a sense of ownership. You may even find your plants and the worms are named!
Plant different varieties. Local nurseries carry June-bearing, everbearing, day neutral and alpine strawberries, and each produces fruit at a different time. I like to combine a June bearing variety like Vessey's Kent strawberry with an everbearing plant like the Albion, this will mean you will get a large batch in June at the beginning of the growing season, then the everbearing Albions will continue to produce until the frost in October.
Where to buy? Pick up transplants at your local nursery as they're specific to our Nova Scotia climate, also buy from a nursery here in HRM to guarantee they are healthy plants. Just remember to snip off the flowers in the first year as you want the plant to use its energy making sister plants. Yes, strawberries have loads of sisters. They send out runners and each runner will produce a sister plant for the following season.
Soil. Strawberries like well drained fairly rich soil, so be sure to add compost or other organic matter when preparing the pot or patch.
Sun. Strawberries need full sun, so more than 6 hours of sun a day. They also like deep soakings, so make sure you water frequently as they are setting their fruit. To help fertilize your plants and produce extra big berries, add a bag of sheep or cow manure To the garden in early spring when the plants start to grow, and again after the first crop.
Two in one recipe for all of those berries you'll be picking. Strawberry- mango smoothie freezes to make a refreshing popscicle. Best leftover trick and instant snack. Pick up a popsicle maker and just pour any of the morning's leftover smoothie into the popsicle maker and freeze. Yum!
Strawberry Mango Smoothie
6 large strawberries
1 banana cut into chunks.
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 cup plain yogourt
2 cups pineapple juice or orange juice.
Place in blender, make sure the cover goes on, and blend 45 seconds.
Deirdre Evans is owner of Urban Veggies, and founder www.urbangardener.ca. She is a garden coach and mother to two young boys. Deirdre helps people grow fresher, healthier, tastier food in urban garden boxes here in HRM.