April is National Garden Month! Gardening is a great way to teach children where food comes from and how it grows. Research shows that gardening can even help improve kids’ attitudes towards nutrition and health. Gardening is also a great way for both kids and parents to be active outside. To get started, you can join a community garden or you can create your very own garden right at home!
Planting herbs on a windowsill, fire escape, or patio is a great way to teach your family how plants grow- and it will also benefit your family meals. Herbs are a healthy way to make dishes flavorful without adding unnecessary salt, sugar or fat in your preparation. Many herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow at home, which can also save you money at the supermarket!
Follow these steps to start your own kitchen herb garden in celebration of National Garden Month:
- Find a sunny spot. If possible, choose a patio or window ledge near your kitchen so that you easily reach your herbs while cooking.
- Choose your herbs. Decide which herbs your family likes best. Popular choices include basil, chives, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, oregano, dill and thyme.
- Collect containers for planting. You can use egg cartons, plastic yogurt cups, or even dixie cups to get started.
- Purchase your soil and seed. If you can find a fellow gardener to donate seeds or potting soil, by all means, use them. Otherwise, you can purchase these items inexpensively from many supermarkets, gardening centers or home improvement stores. (Make sure you purchase a bag of soil that contains fertilizer.)
- Start growing. Plant your seeds in the potting soil (keep each type of herb in a different cup) and make sure they receive lots of sunlight and water. Check out this video for more tips on starting your seeds.
- Pinch and use often. Your herbs will need to be pinched back or trimmed to encourage them to branch out and become full. Aim to trim them when they reach about 3-4 inches in height.
- Experiment and enjoy! Try adding one herb at a time to your favorite dishes including grilled meats, scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables, or broiled fish. Mix herbs into Greek yogurt for a simple and healthy dip for chopped veggies.
- Save some for later. Herbs can be easily dried and stored so you can continue to enjoy them all year long. Simply cut some long stems, tie them together and hang them upside down for about 2-4 weeks.
If you’re looking for recipes to add fresh herbs to, look no further than Healthy Family Fun! Add oregano or chives to our Mediterranean-Style Frittata in place of the Greek seasoning. Use fresh basil and parsley in place of dried herbs in our 20-Minute Chicken Creole. Toss rosemary with the Rainbow Roasted Vegetables.
Share a photo of your family’s herb garden on our Facebook page!