Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April showers

Well, we seem to be entering monsoon season this week in our nation's capital.

Yes, I know it's good for the plants, yadda yadda, but I'm ready for more sunshine. The ducks and frogs are going to be tired of this soon, too.

On a bright note, my lettuce and spinach out on the front steps are practically exploding out of their planter. At least I won't have to break out the rowboat to secure fresh salad greens, I guess.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The eye of the beholder

I tell you, when I got an email with this photo the other day, I was beside myself. A garden bed, just filled with healthy soil and compost, mulched around the perimeter, and all ready to plant! 3 feet by 8 feet by 10 inches of pure, unadulterated garden potential. Ohhhh.

I almost swooned.

The message came from a member of the Outdoor Classroom team, part of the group that helped to construct the 8 brand spanking new raised garden beds at Tyler Elementary a couple of weekends ago. Here we are all smiley and spent from our afternoon of sod wrestling and drillplay:

And now: one ready-to-plant garden bed. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

What to plant in this very first bed? Snap peas! No, wait, spinach! Hold on: lettuce! Carrots! Radishes! Flowers! ... Maybe a row of each? Can't wait for school to reopen next week. Meanwhile, I'm spending spring break mapping out garden plans, digging up strawberry runners for transplanting, starting sweet potatoes on my kitchen windowsill, and daydreaming about warmer weather and snap peas.

Yeah, I'll probably want at least one whole bed of snap peas. I mean, the kids will.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Repeat after me

Well, folks, I finally had to have that uncomfortable conversation with my kids on Monday.

It was the final section of my 3rd grade FoodPrints class on Eating (at least) Five Fruits and Vegetables Every Day. As we reviewed students' One Day Food Journals to survey how many fruits and veggies students in the class had eaten in the previous 24 hours, students called out examples:

A handful of blueberries on my cereal! Yes.

Carrot sticks and ranch dip with my lunch! Well done.

An apple and some peanut butter for a snack! Same here, kid.

French fries! Excuse me? No. Try again. Technically potatoes are vegetables, but for our purposes, we're going to count them as starches.

But I had lots of ketchup on the fries! Excuse me??

Imagine the sound of tires screeching on asphalt. That is the sound that was in my head as I took a deep breath. All this time I thought this was an urban kitchen myth. People didn't ACTUALLY think ketchup counted as a vegetable... but apparently they did. I suppose I can't really blame the kids. They had some logic.

Ketchup is made out of tomatoes, and tomatoes are vegetables, another kiddo piped up.

Okay, class, let's be clear here. Ketchup is NOT a vegetable. It is mostly salt and corn syrup and Red Dye #5 and teeny, tiny little bit of tomato. Repeat after me: KETCHUP IS NOT A VEGETABLE.

Ketchup is not a vegetable.


Ketchup is not a vegetable!

One more time.

Ketchup is NOT a vegetable!

Good. Now let's move on to preparing our three seasonal salads...using actual vegetables.