Gardening brings health, happiness and beans

It is Earth Day or we should say that is it Earth's year, and in different parts of the world nature is at its best; a reminder for us to consume less and live in a simpler “earth kind” way. Let’s celebrate earth day by growing food, and even if you don’t have seeds at home, you can regrow what you have in your kitchen.

I have been a passionate gardener for years. I collaborate at a farm’s educational programme helping children to explore, learn and taste the wonders of urban farming. During lockdown I have been dedicating more time to my garden and we are growing corn, Peruvian potatoes, leeks, spring onions, chillies, peppers and some colourfull flowers to attract pollinators. And honestly, the best gardening helpers are always kids. Their enthusiasm for planting seeds and watering them, their excitement to see what has sprouted, how much did the plant grow, is inspiring! Most likely you’ll find that you have a natural gardener at home too.

When kids connect with nature and understand how plants grow and grow on their own, they are sowing the seeds for their future health, happiness, and of course the health of our planet too.

This year’s Earth Day theme is Climate Action. A great opportunity to start -or continue- the conversation with your children of what we can do to make earth happy, and to help our environment improve and thrive. Reducing your plastic consumption or stop consuming at all, recycling and making compost, reducing car travelling, and growing more plants and trees are all good choices that can have a big impact if each of us chooses at least one and commit to it on a long term.

As a way of celebration, for fun and to get some extra beans and carrots, we have started this project growing plants from food we have in the kitchen. Besides helping the environment, it is a great learning experience. Get your beans, lentils, carrots, ginger, onions, and these can all be easily regrown at home. We started with carrots and beans.

Carrots can grow from the top part, the one we normally don't eat. Instead of scrap, make it regrow. We put it in a small bowl with little water (it should just touch the carrot not cover it) and place it close to a window sill. It will soon start sprouting, you will see leaves on top and then tiny roots will appear from the carrot. This means you can now plant it in a pot or in the ground. Carrots are tap roots, it won't grow an orange carrot from the top part but it will grow the plant that will produce a flowering part, meaning you will get seeds to keep growing carrots. Also, those green leaves on top of the carrots are edible, they go well in salads and have a good parsley flavour.

Sprouting beans is a classic, yet amazing experience to understand a plant life's cycle. There are several ways to do it, inside a glass jar with moist cotton wool or inside a ziploc bag. I find that the ziploc bag allows better visibility to track the bean growth and keeps the seeds moist for longer. Place your beans on wet cotton wool, place them inside a Ziploc bag and stick it in a window with good sunlight. Soon the bean case will start softening and opening as a result of the moisture. Once it is split, a tiny root emerges and will grow fast. Then the beginning o the first set of leaves which means the bean plant is ready to go in a pot or in the ground. After about 8 weeks you can expect to have a mature plant that will start producing flowers and beans :)

Gardening is a work of trial and error so get explorative and see what works for you. Have fun in your gardening adventures!

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