You have probably noticed the weird weather we’ve been having in the north east.  It’s certainly quite warm out for mid-February.  And although your ski season may be cut short this year, it is best to try to think of things on a more positive note.  You can get your home garden started a little earlier this season! Let’s talk roots.  Roots are great to grow in cooler weather and can be started when the outside temperature is about 50-65 degrees.  Radishes are ready to be picked as little as three weeks from when they are planted and although beets and turnips may take up to two months, they are deliciously worth the wait.  Gardening with children can be a great way to get the family together, or maybe the classroom.  When your veggies are ready to cultivate set up a fun taste test for the kids.  Roots are an interesting item to eat raw, especially beets and turnips that are usually eaten cooked.

If you don’t have time to grow vegetables and then taste them, try finding local carrots, beets, or other roots that have been stored through winter.  These can be found at your local health food store, co-op, or farmer’s market.

After you’ve picked or retrieved your local veggies for taste testing, think about including traditional, store-bought vegetables to mix things up so that the kids can try to figure out which ones are garden-grown.  Start by asking the children what they would expect garden produce will taste like.  See if they have any preconceptions about taste and quality from either source and note it on a chart on the board or on paper.

If you are going to taste test in a classroom, split children into pairs and blindfold one of each twosome.  The one who is not blindfolded will hand the other child the food and listen to them guess what they are eating.  After a few minutes, the two can switch places.  When both children in the pairs have gone, ask them which vegetables they thought were from the garden and (if they guessed correctly) ask them why they can taste the difference.  Finally, ask the group what their favorites were and have them describe the experience in a journal (why they liked their favorite or other thoughts about the experience).  * You can also get a little creative and have the children engage in an art activity, where they can create and color their favorite root vegetable out of paper and other art supplies.  Their journal response can be written on the front of back of this!

Happy tasting !

This garden activity was adapted by the SLUG website.