Guess what? My kids are turning into artichokes kids. A what? Yes, artichokes kids! That’s a kid who not only grows but eats artichokes, according to them!
Artichokes are vegetables that at first are a bit scary looking for kids. They look like giant balls with pointy scales. Hmm…I wonder who the first person was to look at this vegetable and say, “hey I think I’ll eat that for dinner tonight.” Whoever it was, I sure am glad he/she did because once you get past the ugliness of the artichoke, it’s really quite tasty.
In our garden, we decided to plant Green Globe Artichokes. They can grow in just about any type of weather and will live for years and years and years. They’re a strong plant and ideal for a kid garden.
Artichokes grow on a large stem, called a thistle which can grow up to 5 feet high. How tall are your kids? Our artichoke plant is almost twice as big as my daughter.
The actual artichoke that you eat is really the flower bud of the plant. If you look at it closely, you’ll see what I mean. If the bud isn’t cut off a big purple flower will actually show up. If your artichoke blooms it’s too late to eat the vegetable so enjoy the pretty flower and watch for bees swarming!
What to tell the kids: Artichokes grow to a little bigger than a tennis ball and have petals that almost look like leather. The petals (actually called bracts) surround the heart of the plant. You can eat the bottom part of each petal and the heart inside. Boil or steam it!
After the growing season, be sure to continue watering your artichoke plant. You should try to water your plant at least every 3 or 4 days. Also try not to get the leaves wet and concentrate on watering just the soil around it.
The kids have actually gone gaga over an artichoke macaroni and cheese dinner. (You can email me for the secret recipe.) However, our favorite way to eat artichokes is by pulling the leaves right off and dipping them into a mayo/ranch sauce. The “meat” of the artichoke is on the end and you just scrape it off with your teeth!
Are you revved up and ready to plant?
We’re racing plants today and it’s really tons of fun!
To add to the sense of the racing adventure, start by making a flag out of foam craft paper for your vine. The flag is going to be used to identify which vine in the yard is yours so be creative. It’s kind of like the way racecars are painted to stand out from the pack. You want your vine to be proud and stand out too! Add a number or even your name or initial!
Once the flags are made, it’s time to put in the racing track, or in this case the racing pole. A lot of berry vines are called “climbers” because they actually climb or grow up a stake or pole. The vine will wrap itself around the pole as it grows. It’s kind of like it grows little hands to hold on.
Tape a flag onto the pole. The first flag doesn’t really matter how far up it is. However, the rest of the vines, or competitors, must be taped at the exact same height. Our flag was taped about 18 inches from the top of the vine. The other flags should then all be taped 18 inches from the top of the vine too. You want to measure the distance because your vine may start at a different height then your brother’s or mother’s. That’s okay. By measuring the distance you’re making the race fair.
Strawberries are easy to grow just about anywhere in world. Head to your local nursery to find out exactly what variety you should be growing in your garden. Just keep in mind that strawberry plants need full sun.
Adding mulch to strawberry plants should be a must. Mulch is a covering, like wood chips or straw, put on the ground to help keep weeds out and the water in.
Right now is the time to dig in and plant your strawberries! What it’s still freezing where you live? That’s okay. Kids love learning that if you add a layer of clean straw or hay to your plants it will also help warm up the soil. It's like covering them with a cozy layer of soft blanket material.
What if you live in a hot place, like me in Southern California? It’s still a good idea to mulch with straw because it’ll do just the opposite. The mulch will actually help keep moisture in and cool the soil. Cool but not freezing soil will give you the best and yummiest srawberries around.
Mulch also keeps the berries off the ground so they stay cleaner and will be ready to eat as soon as you pick them.
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