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Grandparents Teach, too

Victory gardening with our young

According to the American Horticultural Society and horticultural therapists, gardening helps with diseases like migraines, depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, and provides physical, nutritional, and mental health.

Gardening provides the joy of fresh air and boosts vitamin D thanks to the sunshine. It helps make people happy. Does that describe an essential for our times, or what?

Earth is made of bacteria that have a high level of serotonin, a hormone called the happiness hormone. The serotonin in the earth around your plants make us happier and relaxed. Gardening is good for the body and heart since it is a physical activity. Raking, watering, cutting, moving, and dragging aid flexibility and balance. One hour of gardening is equal to thirty minutes of activity. All of this is great for families.

Victory Garden 3.0

A Victory Garden can be a plot of earth or a few large containers of potting soil in the sunshine. You can purchase plants, seeds, or seed potatoes and follow the directions on the package. Easy plants to grow are small patio and other tomatoes, beans, peas, mixed lettuce and other leaf crops, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, herbs, and colorful plants like nasturtium, small sun flowers, marigolds, petunias, and hundreds more.

Here are basic suggestions for containers that can produce remarkable crops. Avoid containers that held anything poisonous. Clean out and rinse containers well and make drainage holes on the bottom. Some people put crushed water bottles on the bottom for drainage. It is not needed if you have good potting soil, never garden soil.

If you have started seeds indoors 5-6 week before to get a head start on the gardening season, check Almanac. com for frost maps in your area. You want 65 degrees minimum and 70-85 degrees optimum soil temperature (not air temperature) and more than 6 hours of sun light to plant outside.

If you have planted indoors and kept soil like a damp sponge but not wet, you should have seedlings after two or three weeks. Thin out weaklings and keep the sturdiest. Place in a bright location that is not more than in high 60’s for sturdier seedlings. High temperatures will make the plants leggy. After a few more weeks you should have full leafed plants.

Vegetables

Vegetables require larger pots than annual flowers. You can even plant seed potatoes if you follow container and bag directions. Tomatoes, for example grow well in 5 gallon buckets. Peppers will grow well in containers about 8 inches in diameter and 10 inches tall. They need warm roots. You may place dark plastic around the top of the roots for a while. Later they need calcium. Keep soil to a moist crumbly ball. For more healthy family activities see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com;wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons, and Facebook.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.

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