Vegetable Gardening Books for Kids

With The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom under way, the Glick Children’s Library offers many books to enhance your learning.  

Here are some recommendations from Libriarian Anne Molloy highlighted in the current issue of the Rodef Shalom Hakasher:

The Carrot and the Seed by Ruth Krauss The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.
A young boy plants and cares for a single carrot seed with surprising results.

The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei and Tolstoy

The Gigantic Turnip by Aleksei Tolstoy and Niamh Sharkey.
Retelling a traditional Russian tale. A husband and wife enlist the help of their animal friends to harvest the gigantic turnip.

Inch by Inch: the Garden Song by David Mallett

Inch by Inch: the Garden Song by David Mallett.
The words and music of the title song are simply and boldly illustrated by Ora Eitan.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming.
Mr. McGreelyis challenged to find a way to keep three hungry bunnies out of his garden.

Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollak

Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollak.
A multicultural group of gardeners plant, tend, and harvest a garden, concluding with a festive meal.

A Prayer for the Earth: the Story of Naamah, Noah’s Wife by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
A Prayer for the Earth: the Story of Naamah, Noah’s Wife by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.
As Noah gathers animals for the ark, his wife gathers seeds of all living things to repopulate the plants after the flood.


Pumpkin Circle: the Story of a Garden by George Levenson

Pumpkin Circle: the Story of a Garden by George Levenson.
The cycle of the pumpkin from seed to fruit and back to seed is explained.

Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayres
Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayres.
Local, award-winning author explores garden plants in rhyme with whimsical illustrations by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

 For the kids that want to cook what they grow, here are a few cookbooks:
Grow It Cook It by Jill BloomfieldThe Farmer's Market Cookbook: Seasonal Dishes Made from Nature's Freshest Ingredients by Richard RubenFresh from the Farmers' Market: Year-Round Recipes for the Pick of the Crop by Janet Fletcher

Container Gardening Ideas – Try a Self Watering Container!

If your garden plan includes growing fruits and vegetables in containers, try a self-watering container. The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom is using self-watering containers to take the guesswork out of watering and allow us to water the garden less frequently. On Sunday May 1st, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students of the Jacob Religious School planted frost tolerant seeds in the first 2 of our 16 EarthBoxes.  


kids gardening in EarthBox self watering container

2nd Grade students assemble the EarthBox self-watering container

Self-watering containers can be purchased from a number of places or you can make your own.

Jacob Religious School Students planting in self watering container

Add soil, dolomite and fertilizer to the EarthBox

 

Kids put cover on self watering planter

A cover is used to stop weeds and protect from rain and drought

The cover is one of the secrets of the EarthBox gardening success!   After the cover is on, holes are cut and seeds or seedlings are planted.  It is too early to plant most of our fruits and veggies so we planted frost resistant seeds; peas, carrots and radishes.  One week later……..

Peas and radish sprouts planted by the children

Peas and radish planted one week ago

There are many important advantages to using a self-watering container:

  1. a reservoir of water is held in the bottom of the container so you will water less often
  2. the reservoir of water allows the plants to soak up water through the roots as needed 
  3. the plants benefit from deep watering without washing away the expensive fertilizer
  4. the prevention root rot
  5. the yield in your garden is increased

According to the EarthBox website,

Our maintenance-free, award-winning, high-tech growing system controls soil conditions, eliminates guesswork and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden…with less fertilizer, less water and virtually no effort!

Want to learn more about growing fresh food in containers?

  • Come to one or all of the Free Vegetable Garden Workshops in Pittsburgh at Rodef Shalom Congregation! Click here for dates and times.
  • Josho.com has instructions to build your own self watering container.
  • These books have helpful step-by-step instructions for container gardening:

Amazon Book link to Garden AnywhereAmazon Book link to Incredible Vegetables

Blueberries and Raspberries-Plants for your Edible Landscape Garden

Create a beautiful landscape with edible plants. Easy to grow edible plants like blueberries and raspberries can be added to your landscape, no matter how small.

Transforming a Suburban Slope into an Edible Landscape

Courtesy of Ecological Gardens

The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom will plant vegetables and fruits in containers as described in our previous post,  container gardens enable those restricted by space, physical disabilities, and location to be be successful in creating their own gardens.

Besides planting in containers, the plan for our Edible Garden also includes another option. Instead of planting edibles in traditional garden beds, you can plant edible fruits directly into your landscape. According to Edible Landscaping with Charlie Nardossi in Growing Berry Shrubs, When you think about growing berries, strawberries are likely the first fruit that comes to mind. While these luscious berries are a favorite addition to an edible landscape, there are other berry-producing plants that not only yield an abundance of fruit, they also make attractive landscape plants.”

Today, volunteers planted eight blueberry and four raspberry plants in The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom.

Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom Blueberry and Raspberry Plants

We purchased 8 blueberries and 4 raspberries at the Pittsburgh Garden Experiment Fruit Tree and Plant Sale


The blueberries and raspberries were purchased through our friends at the Pittsburgh Garden Experiment, a blogging community for city gardeners, in their annual Fruit Tree and Plant Sale. We are happy to note that half of the proceeds from the sale will support Pittsburgh Permaculture

Kerry and Bob planting in the Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom

Kerry and Bob ready to plant blueberries and raspberries on a rainy day

planting blueberries in Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom

Amending the soil and digging holes for the blueberries

We learned two important things about growing blueberries so if you are inclined to try them in your own landscape, here are a few resources for you to consider.

  1. Several varieties of blueberries grow well in Pittsburgh with the proper soil amendments. Our soil was tested with a kit we purchased through the Allegheny County Penn State Cooperative Extension. The soil PH in Pittsburgh is high in alkaline (ours is 7.2 PH) and blueberries grow best in soil with a lower, more acidic PH (between 4.5 and 5). Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences Cooperative Extension’s article, So you want to Grow Fruit….is a wonderful resource for information about growing berries. 

  2. When you plant blueberries, you should plant more than one variety to allow for cross-pollination. We planted Blue Crop, Duke, Elliot and Patriot. Keith at Backyard Berry Plants has a great guide with information on how to plant and care for your berries. 

Newly planted blueberries in The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom

New additions to the Rodef Shalom Landscape Blue Crop, Elliot, Patriot and Duke Blueberry Plants

Raspberry plants in The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom
4 Raspberry Plants
Planting Men
Job well done guys, thanks!

Vegetable Gardening 101 and Container Gardening Workshops

Vegetable Gardening 101 and Container Gardening Workshops –

We need your ideas!

Square Foot Garden

Square Foot Vegetable Garden

Want to grow vegetables? Trying to avoid repeating a previous veggie disaster?  Learn the basics using Square Foot Vegetable Gardening in a 4 by 4 foot space.

No Backyard? Learn to grow vegetables in pots on your balcony, deck or steps.  Learn about all kinds of containers, including how to make and use a Self Watering Container.

Local Master Gardeners are coming to Rodef Shalom Congregation to share gardening expertise with you!

  • Doug Oster, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Backyard Gardener.
  • Nancy Knauss, a consumer horticulture educator at the Penn State Cooperative Extension.
  • Carol Brand, a retired Pediatrician and gardening educator. 

Ideas Wanted!

What workshops or programs would you attend?  The Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom needs your suggestions for topics related to gardening, permaculture, healthy and sustainable food choices, cooking, etc.

Please post your ideas here in the comments section!  

Save the dates!

  • Monday, May 23rd 7pm- Carol Brand, Vegetable Gardening 101
  • Saturday, June 4th 5:30pm- Carol Brand, Container Gardening
  • Friday, June 10th 6pm- Doug Oster (Topic needed!)
  • Monday, June 27th- Nancy Knauss (Topic needed!)

All are welcome!  Sponsored by Life Long Jewish Learning at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

Vermicomposting for Kids at Rodef Shalom Preschool

Rodef Shalom Preschool Worm Composting Workshop

The students, parents and teachers at Rodef Shalom Preschool gathered around Ms. Nancy from the Pennsylvania Resources Council to learn about composting with worms.

What goes in a worm composting bin?

 

We all learned what goes in a worm bin and what doesn’t.  No citrus please!

 

Tearing newspaper for the worm composting bin

 

Time to make our own worm bin for the preschool!  First tear newspaper into strips and put them in the bin.  Then wet the paper until it is moist but not too wet. Hide food for the worms at the bottom of the bin under the paper.  How about a banana peel?  Ok, now let’s add the worms!

Kids looking at worms

 

The worms, “red wigglers”, are not native to Pittsburgh so please don’t release them into our environment.  Of course we had to test the wiggle power of the worms!

Kids holding worms

 

 

Come visit the Rodef Shalom Preschool and check out the worms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Container Gardening Ideas for Fresh Food

Edible Container Garden

How can you grow fresh food and beautiful gardens in small spaces?

Let’s say that you love to garden and the thought of growing your own food appeals to you. Perhaps you also think that you don’t have enough space or that you physically can no longer get down and dig in the dirt, well there is a solution, how about a container garden?

HGTV Container Garden

Growing plants, both edible and otherwise, as well as fruits and nuts is possible for most individuals. All it takes is a few containers and some ingenuity. Planting containers can occupy small balconies, even smaller ones can rest comfortably on windowsills. Container gardens enable those restricted by space, physical disabilities, and location to be be successful in creating their own gardens.

With a container garden, you can offer your plants optimal soil conditions as well as move the containers according to their sunlight needs. It is also a great way for kids to get involved in the education of growing their own food as well as a way to encourage responsibly.

Container Gardening with Kids

Vegetable Garden on a Deck

Are you interested in starting a container garden? Keep an eye on the Rodef Shalom Congregation website for a two workshops: “Vegetable Gardening 101” and “Growing Vegetables in Containers”.

Until then, here are a few resources to get you started:

Happy gardening !!!!