Grow your own leafy greens

JSSPA Extension Information

Do any of your family members avoid green veggies? Have them help you with gardening and they may change their minds.

Children who help grow foods are more likely to eat their vegetables, according to many researchers. Children learn about science and nutrition in the process.

Lettuce can be an “early crop” for gardeners in the Midwestern states. You can grow some in a pot on your front step, as long as you keep your plants watered. You can harvest as soon as the plants produce leaves.

Leafy greens provide vitamins A, C and K. Leafy greens that are darker usually are more nutritious. See “From Garden to Table: Leafy Greens!” at for more information about growing and preparing lettuce.

Remember Food Safety


To clean leafy greens, rinse them in cool, running water. Young children can help with this task.

Sometimes soil can be difficult to remove, so place the leafy greens in a bowl of cool water and allow them to sit for a couple of minutes to loosen the soil. Rinse and remove excess moisture by blotting the lettuce with a clean paper towel or by placing the greens in a salad spinner.

Disconnect From Screens, Reconnect with Nature

If your family has gotten a little “screen-eyed” and lethargic, now is the time to put down those phones, tablets and remotes, and go outdoors.

Make the commitment to spend 60 minutes outside with your kids every day possible. Leave the screens indoors so the temptation to check them is out of sight - even if it is not out of mind.

If you think your bunch is ready for a big screen break, go to to download an entire week’s worth of activities for families, as well as reasons why taking a break from technology is so important.

Savor the Savings with Outdoor Activities

Having fun in the summer doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Physical exercise will come naturally outside as you work up dirt for planting, find the summer toys and tools, and, most importantly, play!


What did you do outside when you were young? Relay races, Frisbee, whiffle ball, tree tag? Keep the tradition alive by teaching your children some of your favorites. Ask siblings, cousins and grandparents about their outdoor play and incorporate those into the summer reunions.

Gardening provides opportunities for fun, exercise and food for your family. Start small with gardening. Try square-foot gardening. Read all about it at

Kids love small gardens because of their reasonable size and ease of planting and weeding.

A garden provides everyone a lot to learn about, look at, talk about, tend and water. Kids learn where vegetables come from, and everyone can enjoy eating the “fruits” of their labor together at the family table.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, The Family Table newsletter, Issue 17. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email .

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