meet the r&d team

Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Feb 15, 2023

TRUE TIPS

Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Our Research & Development Team at True Organic truly sets us apart. This crew of dedicated science and agriculture professionals works to find even better ways to deliver powerful, organic, food-safe plant foods to you — and to the large-scale farms we’ve been serving for decades.

So we thought it was due time for them to share the spotlight with the products they help develop.  

From orchards and lettuce fields to chemistry labs and conferences, this team brings passion and positivity to everything they do. Meet our R&D Team!

Meet Mike Menes, PhD: Vice President Food Safety & Technology

mike menes

Hello, Mike! What’s your role with True Organic? 

I’m responsible for providing the systems and resources to manufacture a product at the highest quality standard. I am also a representative of True Organic in relation to the government and the wider organic industry.

Why is your work important to you?

In a few words: I can make a difference. I’m able to affect change and tell the world about it — like protecting the USDA Organic Seal and food/product safety (we’re proud to hold the highest possible standard for food safety), which are aspects that are important to me personally. We do this work with the objective to improve the lives of people in our company, the lives of people who buy our products, and to improve the planet.

A little more about me:

I am an avid woodworker. I learned some carpentry skills from my father and in a cabinet shop in college and in the summers after. I’ll try and make anything…I can’t guarantee that it’ll be very pretty, but it usually turns out okay.

 

Meet Ramy Colfer, PhD: Vice President, Research & Development / Agronomy

ramy colfer

Hi, Ramy! What’s your role at True Organic?

I work to improve our understanding of the many benefits of True Organic products for

organic farmers: improving soil health and plant nutrient availability, bolstering plant health and resilience, and helping our customers succeed. I really enjoy working with growers (our customers), our sales team, our production team, and my excellent R&D and Agronomy team. 

What do you love about your work? 

We help grow amazing organic crops and make soil better too while giving a home to waste products. True Organic is a great company to work for and has very strong integrity: in our commitment to customer service, organic integrity, and food safety, and in giving strong, scientifically-based guidance to our customers. True is a world-changing company in the way we take agricultural byproducts, process them for premium quality and safety, then quickly deliver them on a massive scale to growers all over the country. When I see how much organic food we help grow, and how much carbon material is added to the soil every year because of True Organic products, it brings me pride and satisfaction.

We have a very tight family culture here. We work hard together and try to improve the company every day. True is an exciting company, growing incredibly over the last two decades, with great potential to grow even more. Our goals are lofty and our only limits are our imaginations.

A little more about me: 

I love my family, I love my home and the place I live, and I love working in organic agriculture. I have a wonderful wife and three daughters that are all doing incredible things in the world. I really enjoy regular activities in our local mountains and ocean here on the Central Coast. There is rarely a week that goes by when I am not hiking in the mountains or surfing in the ocean. I am a person with great gratitude. I hope to help the world a little before I leave.

 

Meet Ehsan Toosi, PhD: Director of Research & Development

ehsan toosi

Hello, Ehsan! What’s your role with True Organic? 

Apart from particular research directions that I lead, I work with the rest of the R&D team at our Helm, California facilities on projects as well as research facilities (research lab and greenhouse), but also with the Operations team and external partners, especially technical and research units.

Why is your work important to you?

Our team at True is dedicated to turning upcycled waste/by-products into premium inputs for use in intensive organic cropping systems. I am fortunate to be a part of this effort and work in the industry, given a number of environmental and agronomic benefits of organic cropping, and nutritional value of organic crops.

A little more about me:

Indulging myself anywhere outdoor in the Sierras is my primary interest when I get a chance.

 

Meet Andrew Pedersen: Central Valley Senior Agronomist

andrew pedersen

Hey, Andrew! What’s your role at True Organic?

I support our sales team, customers, and growers in understanding and using True Organic products. I also create crop fertility programs to help guide organic growers on how best to apply our products (like determining application rates and timings).

During the production season (February through October), I oversee trials on organic farms, mostly to compare fertility using True Organic products to another program the grower might be using. Many times, I’m comparing a new True product or program to other True products the grower is already using — that’s how we continuously improve the productivity of organic systems. We use soil and leaf tissue tests to determine nutrient availability, capture aerial imagery with drones using specialized sensors that can help compare plant health, and evaluate yield and quality (critical points, as they’re the bottom line for the grower). In the late fall and winter, I interpret, summarize, and present data from our trials to the sales team, customers, and growers. 

What matters to you about your work?

I live in Tulare County, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. This valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, specializing in nuts, grapes, fresh fruit, and a variety of vegetables. Growers in this region are facing tremendous challenges, the biggest of which is water availability for irrigation. I believe organic production has the potential to provide growers the opportunity to improve long-term economic profitability, while improving soil health and farming in a more sustainable way. Farming organically can be difficult, and resources about how to do it successfully are limited. True Organic has been and will continue to be an important resource for these growers as they transition to organic farming.

A little more about me:

My family and I are lucky to live on 4 acres. My wife, who is a veterinarian, has plenty of room for animals (horses, goats, and chickens) and I have a lot of space to grow my own fruits and vegetables. I have about 20 different fruit trees and grow a variety of vegetables year-round, thanks to California’s climate. It’s so satisfying to watch my 2 kids enjoying tomatoes, peaches, or mandarins that I grew and harvested myself. And since I started at True, I’ve got lots of free organic fertilizer to play with!

Meet Justin Russak, PhD: Senior Chemist

justin russak

Hi, Justin! What’s your role at True Organic? 

I have the privilege of taking ideas and turning them into useful products. The research begins in the R&D lab, which is equipped with all the instruments and tools we need to ensure our products are stable, compatible, and meet specifications. Working with production and engineering, products that are ready for primetime need to be translated from their small lab-scale tests to large-scale production. A good portion of my time is dedicated to supporting these efforts as well as many others at our facility in Helm, CA. 

What do you love about your work at True? 

It is extremely satisfying to work in an environment with like-minded people who inspire greatness. The work we put in as a team has a direct impact on the products we sell to organic growers. The final reward is seeing a grower’s product in the grocery store and putting it in my basket, knowing that in some small way I contributed to that process.

A little more about me:

I tackle the New York Times crossword daily — it’s been a thing for maybe 5 years or so now, along with the Spelling Bee and Wordle. If you know…you know.

Meet Margaret McCoy, PhD: PNW R&D Agronomist

margaret mccoy

Hey, Margaret! What do you do at True Organic? 

During the summer, I do data collection and analysis including soil and tissue samples for trials and grower collaborators. We meet with growers to go over trial data and progress to help inform their organic production.

What do you love about your work at True?

I find happiness in helping growers and hopefully making a difference to the industries we work with. Organic farming is in my blood, and I want to honor those who have taught me or helped me along this path in life. 

A little more about me:

I love to snowboard and I make wine from my own vineyard. 

meet the team

ccof foundation    ccof foundation


blog headers

8 Best Fruit Trees for Your Home Garden

Jan 31, 2023

TRUE TIPS

8 Best Fruit Trees for Your Home Garden 

Do you dream of relaxing in a dreamy orchard buzzing with bees and birds? Enjoying ripe fruit and relaxing under blossom-filled trees? 

We created our Fruit & Nut Tree Food, the latest addition to the True Organic plant food family, to make your backyard orchard dreams come true!

Even if you only have room for one or two fruit trees, you can definitely grow delicious fruit in your home garden (or even indoors). With some forethought and research, even a small outdoor space can accommodate fruit trees.

How to choose?

Here’s what to consider before you commit to a fruit tree for your home garden:

Size & Space

How much space do you have for your tree(s)? Fruit trees range greatly in size and some can even be cultivated successfully in containers. Some dwarf fruit trees might grow to just 6-8 feet tall and 2 feet wide!

Choose types that will be easy to find room for as they grow and bear fruit.

Plant Hardiness Zone

Choose a type of fruit tree that thrives in your climate. Thankfully, there are fruit trees that love almost every Zone, even in cold and dry climates.

Soil Type

Is the earth in your yard sandy, acidic, loamy? Different varieties of fruit trees thrive in specific types of soil, so find out what kind of soil you’re working with before you buy any trees. Check out our blog with Agronomist Dr. Margaret McCoy, PhD for all the details on soil testing.tree planting

Pollination Requirements

Some trees are self-pollinating (like most of your garden crops) but some require cross-pollination. Non-self-pollinating trees won’t produce a good harvest without a “partner tree” to pollinate them.

If you choose a tree that needs to be cross-pollinated, you’ll either need to make sure there is another tree of the same species nearby (within 100 feet is ideal for bees) or you’ll need to hand-pollinate (which is much simpler than you might think, but still requires a bit of expertise and time). The pollination partner needn’t be the same variety of fruit, just the same species.

Learn more about pollination requirements for various crops with these helpful resources from Penn State University’s College of Agriculture Extension.

Your Favorite Fruits

As with any garden crop, grow what you love! While it can be fun to experiment with new crops and varieties, the most rewarding part of growing fruit trees is eating delicious, nutritious, sweet treats. So go with your favorites.

New to growing fruit trees? Try one of these:

Pear

pearAlong with apples, pear trees are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow and they’re great for beginners. They can grow in many different climates, are simple to care for, are disease- and pest-resistant, and usually yield lots of fruit.

Like many fruit trees, pears need to grow for a few years before fruiting. Pear trees typically start bearing fruit after 3 years, but some take at least 7 years before they’ll give you fruit.

Because of their natural disease resistance, pear trees are ideal for growing organically. Like most fruit and nut trees, they’ll do well when fertilized twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Use an organic fertilizer like our Fruit & Nut Tree Food, which is rich in nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, and nitrogen.

Many varieties of pear tree are self-pollinating, too! 

Apple

The classic apple tree is a home gardening favorite for good reason! Apple trees are generally easy to grow, high-producing, and hardy in lots of climates. One of the best trees for beginners, apples do require several years before they start bearing fruit — for some varieties, up to 8 years.

But like some other types of fruit trees, some apple varieties are “dwarf” trees that grow around 10-15 feet tall and can start fruiting after only 2-3 years.

Apples are non-self-pollinating (also known as “self-unfruitful”), so one lonely apple tree in the backyard might not yield fruit on its own. Plant another apple tree nearby or scope out your neighborhood to see if any neighbors are growing apples. 

Fig

Figs are such a fun, underrated fruit and they’re shockingly simple to grow! 

Fig trees thrive in many climates and can be kept in small spaces. Like pear trees, fig trees are very resistant to disease, are typically self-pollinating, and grow quickly — you don’t need to wait years for a fig tree to bear fruit.

Cherry

cherryBing cherries are one of the most beginner-friendly varieties to grow: the fruit is sweet and plump, and these trees produce big, yummy harvests.

Most cherry trees start yielding fruit on their fourth year, so be ready to commit before you start putting cherry pie on the menu.

Birds love cherries, so be prepared to cover your trees after the flowering stage.

Plum 

There are a surprising number of varieties of plum, so there’s sure to be one that fits your needs and your tastes. Depending on the variety, plum trees may be self-fertile or cross-pollinating, so be sure to commit to a type of plum tree you can care for properly. 

Watch out for soil that doesn’t drain well when you’re growing plum trees, as they can be particularly sensitive to waterlogged soil.

Apricot

Juicy, sunset-colored apricots are a bit easier to grow than peaches and yield a whole lot of fruit. Best of all, they bloom early, so you’ll be eating apricots first thing in the springtime.

These delightful trees are self-pollinating and grow big branches full of luscious green leaves, perfect for lounging beneath.

Because of their early blooming nature, though, watch out for late frosts and cold snaps, which could damage flowering apricot trees. 

Lemon

While lemon and other citrus can’t grow in every climate, they do amazingly well in climates that they like! If you live somewhere like that, you probably never buy lemons — they’re abundant on every corner of the neighborhood and neighbors are begging you to take them away.

Lemon trees are great for container growing and can even be grown indoors with the right care. Indoor container lemon trees will stay under 4 feet tall. So cute!

They can grow happily in various kinds of soil (although they prefer slightly acidic soil) and are easy to care for. Most varieties will start bearing fruit in their third or fourth year.

Lemon trees are very cold-sensitive and cannot withstand frost, so be prepared to cover your lemon tree if you live in a place that gets frost. 

Crabapple

Okay, not many people want to grow crabapple, but hear us out! Crabapple trees may not produce the yummiest fruit, but they are stunning additions to any landscape with their sweet-smelling blossoms of white, pink, and pale red. 

Crabapple trees grow in a ton of different climates, and while they don’t like hot weather, some varieties can thrive in extreme cold, even in Zone 2a (Alaska!) 

So what about that fruit? Crabapples (which technically just means an apple that is tiny — under 2 inches in diameter, to be exact) are super-tart and hard in texture. They’re not good to eat raw (unless you’re a bird or a squirrel), but you can make delicious jams, jellies, fruit butters, even crumble and crisps. 

If you’re new to fruit trees or live in a cold climate, crabapples are a great place to start learning how to plant and care for these wonderful garden additions.

best fruit trees


winter seed sowing

Winter Sowing: How to Start Seeds Outdoors

January 14, 2023

TRUE TIPS

Do you like to start your garden with seeds? It’s a super gratifying way to grow plants!seedling

You might have experience with direct sowing (planting seed right into the garden bed where they’ll remain), but starting seedlings outdoors through the winter is a nature-approved method that will become your new favorite garden trick.

It’s called winter sowing and it’s way easier than you think!

Benefits of Winter Sowing

Quick and low-maintenance 

Winter sowing is a nearly “set it and forget it” method that gives you hardy, ready-to-plant crops for your spring garden. Preparing the containers is incredibly simple and family-friendly — a great project for kids.

Once you prep and plant your seeds, you’ll leave them outside for months to activate their ability to germinate (a process referred to as scarring or stratifying), watch them sprout into seedlings and harden off all by themselves right in upcycled, reusable containers. 

Low-cost and sustainable

Winter sowing is low-cost, simple, and space-efficient. The only materials you need are cleaned plastic containers like milk jugs, scissors, and permanent markers. Oh, and seeds and soil, of course. 

It’s a great way to save money on your gardening hobby: seeds are way less expensive (sometimes they’re even free if you use a seed exchange or library). Plus, you’ll have control of the whole process, ensuring that your plants are organic, hardy, and ready to go in the ground.

Find a seed library or exchange near you with the Seed Librarian’s locator map or the Seed Savers Exchange search feature — or do a quick internet search. If you can’t find anything online, visit your local nursery to consult a gardening expert about seed exchanges in your neighborhood. Or start saving your own seeds!

Can’t find an organic seed exchange in your hometown? Start one! Get some pointers from our friends at Phoenix Seed Swap, a small grass-roots seed saving and sharing project in Arizona. 

Creates hardy, healthy seedlings

The hardening off process that indoor-grown seedlings need prior to being planted in the ground can be tricky, time-consuming, and stressful. 

Seedlings started outside don’t need to be hardened off before planting in the garden — the process of winter sowing does that naturally.

As they germinate and grow outside in natural weather conditions (protected in their containers from getting washed away by rain or dug up by hungry animals), they’re getting used to natural weather conditions and being nourished by natural light. All of that acclimates them to a life outside! They’ll be hardier, stronger, and ready to be happily transplanted into the garden come spring.

No fancy equipment needed

And no greenhouse required, either!  Winter sowing is ideal for those with limited indoor space for seed starting. No special lighting or equipment is required for germination.

 

Winter Sowing Basicswinter sowing

How does winter sowing work?

Winter sowing means planting seeds and tending seedlings in outdoor containers before spring. This process mimics the natural process of seed germination. 

Most seeds are dormant and need something to trigger their “wake-up call” before they can germinate. (Thank you, winter!) 

Winter sowing does not mean directly sowing your seeds in the ground. They’d be quite unlikely to make it to spring in that case. 

What do I need?

  • Containers: Gallon milk jugs are the most popular, but other plastic containers with lids work, too.
  • Space: You don’t need much! A corner of your yard will do.
  • Seeds
  • Potting soil

What crops should I sow?

You’ll be surprised at how many varieties are ideal for winter sowing. Many flowering plants, herbs, and edible crops can be sown outside in winter.

So how can you be sure a seed is good for winter sowing? 

Start by looking for seeds that are considered “hardy” in your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

If you’re using store-bought or online-ordered seeds from a packet, the information on that packet is all you need. You can also get a ton of helpful info from any seed catalog. Even if you aren’t ordering your seeds from a catalog, you can get a free catalog mailed to you from almost any seed company. We recommend going organic! 

Look for terms like: reseeding, self-sowing, hardy, withstands frost, sow outdoors in early spring, stratification, and scarification. That means the seed is good for outdoor winter sowing.

When should I sow my seeds?

It depends greatly on the conditions in your area, which you can learn about by identifying your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (sometimes referred to as Garden Zone). Check it out here.

Generally, your best bet to winter sow perennials and hardy annuals will be December through March (later in that range if you live in a colder climate). These seeds need to chill out in cold temperatures and moist conditions for a while in order to germinate in spring. 

For less hardy plants like veggies and other tender annuals, March and April are good times for winter sowing. Those seeds don’t need a cold period before germination. winter sowing

Step-by-Step Winter Sowing

Prepare containers

  • Clean: Wash a milk jug or other translucent plastic container with soap and rinse well.
  • For milk jugs: With a serrated knife or box cutter, just below the handle, cut almost all the way around the jug. Leave about 2 inches as a hinge, so the top part of the jug can open easily. (Skip this step for plastic takeout containers, but save the lid.) You can toss out the milk jug lid.
  • Make drainage holes in the bottom of the container. If you’re using a container with a lid, poke a few holes in the lid, too.

Prepare soil

  • Fill container with at least 4 inches of organic potting mix. Avoid garden soil which may contain pathogens and weed seeds.
  • Lightly water soil and allow it to drain.
  • You don’t need to add plant food until the seed germinates and sprouts. Once you have a few leaves, you can use True Organic Preplant Food.

Sow and seal

  • Follow the directions on the seed package to sow your seeds.
  • If using milk jugs, seal the container around the “seam” with light-colored outdoor-style tape (remember, you want lots of sunlight to get in, so don’t use something like black tape, which will block out light.). Leave the top of the milk jug off so water can enter.
  • If using a lidded container, place the lid back on, double-checking that water can get into the holes in the lid.

“Set and forget” 

  • Label your containers with type of seed and sowing date.
  • Choose a secure location outside that gets lots of sun all day and gets some rain or snow. Do not place your containers under an awning — they need moisture!
  • Leave them alone! Revisit them when your seedlings start germinating in spring.

A few things to watch out for:

Early spring or a warm spell

If seeds get a burst of warm weather, they could germinate too soon, leaving baby seedlings vulnerable to returning cold weather.

Lack of sun

Be sure the location you choose has good sun all day, especially as Winter days are still short. 

Wind and other extreme weather

If a wind storm is coming, move your containers into the garage overnight or place them in a heavy crate until the conditions pass.

Animals 

Although your seeds are protected by their containers, animals like mice, birds, and squirrels can be relentless (and quite clever) when it comes to getting some winter nosh. It’s worth checking on your containers every so often to make sure animals aren’t fussing with them or chewing/clawing at them — and moving them to a more secure location, if so.

winter sowing


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

December 21, 2022

TRUE TIPS

Growing Organic Futures With The CCOF Foundation

You’ve probably heard of CCOF: a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion. CCOF’s mission is to help build a world where organic is the norm. CCOF’s educational and grant-making enterprise is the CCOF Foundation, which empowers organic farmers to grow organic agriculture, which in turn creates a more prosperous, resilient world. It’s easy to see how True Organic and CCOF’s missions align. We’re honored to be an ongoing supporter of the CCOF Foundation, particularly as a donor to their Future Organic Farmer program.

 

ccof
Photo credit: The Curated Feast for CCOF Foundation

About CCOF & The CCOF Foundation

In 1973, CCOF was founded by 13 farmers who made a commitment to support organic farming and each other. Their commitment evolved into an organic certification business (how you’ve probably heard of CCOF — or at least seen the certification label!) and the CCOF Foundation.

The CCOF Foundation focuses on the founders’ spirit of community support, while CCOF’s organic certification enterprise continues to ensure organic standards across the country.

CCOF is committed to exploring the growing edge of organic, and that’s why they’re invested in new organic farmers’ education, resources for farmers in transition to organic, and in supporting seasoned organic professionals’ success through ongoing learning and training. And so are we!

The Future Organic Farmers grant is just one program offered by the CCOF Foundation. Read more about their other grant programs and their Organic Training Institute on their website.

 

CCOF’s Future Organic Farmer Program

This awesome grant program gives $5,000 in scholarships to college and vocational students training for careers in organic. These grants are offered to students pursuing vocational training/certificate programs, junior college/two-year degree programs, bachelor’s/four-year and undergraduate degrees.

CCOF writes: Future Organic Farmer grants are an investment in our future food system. The more beginning farmers who pursue organic, the more we increase organic acreage and feed our communities organic food. We hear from our Future Organic Farmer grantees that this scholarship helped them pursue organic and gave them the confidence to succeed.

We couldn’t agree more.

 

Above: Rhyne Cureton (who also goes by the apt nickname “Pork” Rhyne”), a swine specialist and international advocate for small-scale agriculture, with rural pig farmers in East Africa (where he travels to train farmers on proper livestock husbandry and health, and farm profitability.)

Above: Future Organic Farmer Grant recipients Lehia Apana and Brad Bayless at Polipoli Farms, their farm on Maui, where they grow endemic and native species with traditional Hawaiian methods. Photo courtesy of CCOF. Read more about Lehia and Brad and their organic farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aligned Missions for Planetary Health

“What if you could combat climate change, strengthen local economies, and improve health in our communities, all through one strategic initiative?”

We bet you can guess where this question from the CCOF website is leading: organic agriculture. We rely on agriculture to survive, and yet it’s also one of the biggest contributors to our current planetary health crisis. Good news: organic and regenerative agriculture methods are one of the most impactful ways we can reverse climate change!

True Organic founder, Jake Evans, started this company because he was devastated at how synthetic,
petroleum-derived chemicals were pervasive in our soil — and had depleted the soil of its natural ability to sequester carbon and retain water.

 

 

 

 

Learn more about the magic of carbon sequestration and how healthy soil (replenished by organic techniques) and save the planet. We are committed not only to serving agricultural organic produce growers with the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizer possible but also to helping preserve the planet. The more acres of farmland and gardens that are being tended with organic methods, the more we all benefit — the planet and our communities.

 

 

 

ccof foundation    ccof foundation


root vegetable recipes - True Organic

5 Easy, Delicious Root Vegetable Recipes for Winter

November 28, 2022

TRUE TIPS

5  Easy, Delicious Root Veggie Recipes for Winter

‘Tis the season for all root veggies! While Winter can sometimes feel like an ebb in the abundance of garden harvests, root vegetables are having their moment in the sun. Beets, carrots, and potatoes are celebrated superstars of the Fall and Winter table: they store well for a long time, they’re dense with nutrients that your body needs, and cooking them in the oven makes a warm, cozy atmosphere for those blustery days.

Here are 5 fun recipes for the root veggies you dug up this year!

 

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Crispy Roasted Carrots with Parmesan and Garlic

Bored of roasted carrots? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wonderful way to make them zesty, crunchy, and fun enough that the whole family will want seconds. This delectable recipe from Cafe Delites is truly mouthwatering and so simple to make. It’s a perfect side dish for any dinner or for a holiday celebration.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots, washed well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper as desired
  • Fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or rosemary, optional

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Lightly grease or spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  • Halve carrots, length-wise (no need to peel, just give them a good scrub).
  • Spread carrots on baking sheet. Add rosemary or thyme, if using.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper as desired. Toss all ingredients together to completely coat the carrots.
  • Spread carrots out on the baking sheet so there is some space in between them, and they aren’t overlapping.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Toss with a spatula half way through.
  • Remove from oven and serve hot. Top with fresh parsley, as desired.

Everyday Beet Dip

Bright pink, creamy, zesty beet dip is a holiday gathering go-to. Impress your friends with this beautiful, flavorful side dish that can be used on wraps, sandwiches, salads, or, of course, with crudité or crackers.

The best part about beet dip is that it’s super adaptable; you can add your own favorite add spices or swap creamy thickeners (like yogurt, in the recipe below) with chickpeas to make a beet hummus. Try this recipe as a starting point and get creative!

Ingredients 

  • 4 medium beets, washed and trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp chili chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Make It!

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place beets in a baking pan with ¼ cups of water. Cover with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes, or until tender.
  • Allow the beets to cool, then peel and cut in half.
  • Add beets, garlic, yogurt, olive oil and chili powder to food processor or blender and blend on pulse until smooth.
  • Garnish with feta cheese, parsley, and whatever else excites you!

Garnish ideas

  • Fresh herbs
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cheese
  • Shallots
  • Roasted garlic

Hungry for more beet recipes? Check out Food & Wine’s 27 amazing beet dishes!

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
root vegetable recipes - True Organic

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Potatoes

These gooey treats take baked potatoes to a whole new level. If you want to get really wild, add a cheese of your choice.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Make It!

  • Preheat to 500°F.
  • Toss potatoes, butter, oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Arrange potatoes in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan.
  • Roast potatoes for about 30 minutes or until browned, flipping once.
  • Remove from oven to add broth and half of the garlic. Return to oven and roast for about 15 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed and potatoes are tender.
  • Top with cheese and garlic, if desired. Allow to cool for a few minutes; serve hot!

 

 

Winter Vegetable Salad

Salad in the Winter? Yep! Get creative with crispy greens, winter fruit, and thinly sliced root veggies for that extra crunch (and nutrition). Here is a simple winter salad base and some suggestions for additions!

Make It!

Use a base of lettuce leaves like red oak and Little Gem and add:

  • Radicchio, chopped or torn
  • Fennel, shaved or very thinly sliced
  • Golden or red beets, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • White turnips, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange slices
  • Walnut, chopped, raw or roasted
  • Fresh Autumnal herbs like parsley or tarragon

Top with simple oil and vinegar or a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

 

 

- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com
- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

Sweet Potato Hash

Turn your average potato brunch dish into a Fall favorite with sweet potatoes. This Food Network Recipe adds bacon, cinnamon, and cilantro for a savory-and-sweet flavor combination that will warm you up and make your tastebuds dance.

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil to cook
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, optional
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Malt vinegar, for topping

Make It!

  • Remove jalapeño stem, seeds and ribs, cut into thin rings.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a sheet pan.
  • Lay the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the bacon to a cast-iron pan on medium heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered about 7 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the jalapeño rings to the bacon fat and fry until blistered and lightly browned. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer and season with cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Fry until crispy and golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add the bacon and jalapeños to the pan and fold to combine. Add a few shakes of malt vinegar. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.


plant food ingredients

Liquid Plant Food Ingredients For Your Houseplants

November 11, 2022

TRUE TIPS

The Plant Doctor Is In: Liquid Plant Food Ingredients That Support Your Houseplants

Despite growing up on a farm and being a real-life plant and soil scientist (with a Masters in Soil Science and PhD in Horticulture from Washington State University), Margaret McCoy admits that she never had any indoor plants until grad school.

“I needed a plant for a grad school project, and my advisor gave me a pothos. And I still have it!”

It was the first indoor plant Margaret kept alive, and it inspired her to start reconsidering her ability to care for houseplants. Before that inspirational pothos, she was never able to keep a houseplant from perishing.

“People were always giving me plants but I didn’t want them! I murdered them.”

So what changed for Margaret and her houseplants? Besides settling into a more permanent home (her homestead in South-Central Washington State), she says she learned more about taking care of them and forgiving herself when things didn’t work out.

“I have a rubber tree, I have a fiddle-leaf fig, I have a monstera…and they all need different things and sometimes I don’t know why a certain plant isn’t happy. I just try different things.”

And one of the major things that really makes a difference in your houseplants’ health is plant food ingredients! We sat down with Margaret to chat about how True Organic Liquid Plant Foods are your secret weapon when it comes to caring for your houseplants and potted garden.

 

What’s In The Bottle?

When you look at the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer, you’re seeing the available nutrients that will “feed” your plants.

But look closer and you’ll notice a “derived from” section on the label. These are the ingredients used to make the listed nutrients available for plants. It’s very similar to a nutrition label on packaged food: the ingredients are what deliver the listed nutrients (carbohydrates, vitamins, sugars, protein, etc.) to your body.

Let’s look at some of the common ingredients in our liquid plant foods and learn about what they deliver to your green friends.

 

Reduced Molasses Sugar & Sugar Beet Extract

Let’s start simple: with simple sugar, that is.

Yep, reduced molasses sugar and sugar beet extract are just what they sound like!

These plant food ingredients are sugar-water solutions that dose plants with a quick shot of nutrients for energy. This type of ingredient helps reduce transplant shock — a condition that can strike plants when they are moved to a new location or environment, or undergo physical harm.

Molasses is derived from sugarcane and you know it as a sweetener for gingerbread, cookies, and cinnamon buns. Sugar beet extract is, of course, derived from sugar beets. Both give plants a quick, easily “digestible” source of nutrients and stress-suppressing compounds.

They’re a source of easily digestible carbon and minerals for soil microbes, which enhances microbial activity and can improve nutrient uptake.

While they don’t provide a lot of ongoing nutrient support, these ingredients act like a sugary drink or “goo” that a long-distance athlete might use to boost their energy during an endurance race. That’s why this family of ingredients is contained in many of our plant foods!

 

Kelp extract

The ocean gives us this plant food ingredient. “Kelp makes plants really happy. It’s really good for plants that have a stress response or injury,” says Margaret McCoy.

Here’s how: Kelp contains growth hormones that can help regulate the growth of plants. The cytokine hormone mobilizes nutrients in plant leaves to improve the chlorophyll content and increase the growth rate and fullness of plants. It can also improve resilience in response to a variety of stressors and even support pest and disease resistance.

 

Potash

Potash, as a plant food ingredient, contributes potassium to plant food. While potash (pronounce “pot ash,” as in “potassium ash”) was originally produced from wood ashes and charcoal, it’s now typically mined from the underground deposits of evaporated sea beds.

The term “potash” usually refers to the overarching group of potassium-rich minerals as a whole; most of the potash delivers potassium in the form of Potassium Chloride (KCl). Like many other nutrients, potassium needs to be in the right form for soil microbes to break it down and plant roots to take it in.

Potassium is a huge helper to the overall quality and yield of crops. It protects plants from extreme temperatures, helps plants to fight stress, strengthens roots and stems, and helps enzymes support plants’ efficient use of water.

 

Soy Protein Hydrolysates

“Protein hydrolysates are essential amino acids that serve as a simple superfood,” says Margaret McCoy. They’re building blocks for plants, stimulating root growth and function, supporting cell structure, and promoting vegetative growth.

Plants use amino acids differently, and protein hydrolysates give them a needed boost of different types of amino acids.

Our exclusive soy protein hydrolysate blend is derived from organic soy beans and supplies a wide range of amino acids for both plants and soil microbes. (Plants can use the amino acids directly or use components like nitrogen and carbon for other critical parts of plant development.)

Soy protein hydrolysates are a super-star plant food ingredient that enhances nutrient availability and reduces the overall impacts of environmental stress (over-watering, heat, etc). That’s why this ingredient is in all of our Liquid Plant Foods!

 

Humic Acid

Humic Acid is a signature plant food ingredient in our Organic Liquid Preplant Starter. It stimulates root development — specifically fine roots used to scavenge nutrients and help improve water and nutrient uptake. And with improved root systems, plants can protect better against environmental stressors!

 

Grow Your Home Jungle!

Now that you’re briefed on how different plant food ingredients support plants, you may be eager to get going with fertilization. But be mindful: plants don’t need supplements during non-growth seasons (like in Fall and Winter), and it’s important to get to know your plants and what they need.

Research the varieties of houseplants you’re raising to learn more about what kind of plant foods they need. Get familiar with your plants’ appearances so you know when something is up, and they need a boost, a repotting, less water, or a new spot in the house.

And you can rest assured that every single True Organic product is certified food safe with the absolute highest standards. Learn more about our commitment to food safety and how we ensure the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizers on the market.

 


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

November 11, 2022

TRUE TIPS

3 Unique Apple Recipes You’ve Never Tried

 

If you’ve been leaving apples for dessert and breakfast, think again. Sweet and savory is the ultimate flavor combo and apples provide just the right amount of sweet-tartness to make savory dishes unexpectedly awesome.

Besides being epically tasty and delightfully versatile, apples are packed with nutrients your body needs, like fiber, vitamin C (one apple contains around 10% of your recommended daily intake), and vitamins E, B1, and B6.

Apples also contain polyphenols: antioxidants that can protect against chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.

 

Leave the skin on apples when you can — it’s the part of the fruit most dense with fiber and polyphenols! With so many varieties of apples grown in the U.S. (about 2,500, in fact!) you’re about to embark on a flavor journey to delight your taste buds.

Apples On Horseback

By Grace Paris for Food & Wine

Here’s a super-simple yet elegant appetizer for gameday, holidays, and cocktail parties.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 16 thin slices of pancetta
  • 1 Pink Lady apple—peeled and cut into 16 wedges
  • 3 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
  • Rosemary sprigs or toothpicks for skewers

Make it!

  • Preheat a grill pan.
  • Lay out pancetta slices. Place an apple wedge and a cheese stick in the center of each slice.
  • Wrap the pancetta around the filling and secure with a rosemary sprig or toothpick.
  • Grill the skewers until the pancetta is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot

 

Butternut-Apple Soup

By Erin Clarke of Well Plated

This recipe, inspired by simple-and-rich French bistro food, uses tart apples, creamy squash, and fresh nutmeg to offer stunning Fall flavors and color.

The ingredients are plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find in the organic section! Plus, you can freeze and reheat this one for quick cold-season meals anytime.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 8

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped (about 3 cups total)
  • 2 large butternut squash about 5 pounds total, peeled and diced into chunks
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (use a mix of sweet apples, like McIntosh, and tart, like Granny Smith)
  • 3-4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Make it!

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large, deep stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low. Add the onions and cook until very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the onions cook, cut and peel the squash and apples.
  • Add them to the pot, then add 2 cups of the stock. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to low, then cover, and cook until the squash and apples are very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes depending upon how larger you cut your squash and apple pieces (smaller pieces will cook more quickly).
  • Once the apples and squash in the soup pot are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a food processor fitted with a steel blade to puree in batches.
  • Return soup to the pot.
  • Add 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock, then stir, adding a bit more stock as needed to reach your desired consistency — thick and rick is best
  • Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne. Add more salt and pepper as desired.

 

Apple & Cheddar Quesadillas

We saved the best for last! This amazingly unexpected ingredient combination is a crowd-pleaser for potlucks and parties. The best part about this recipe is how creative you can get with addition! Bacon, chicken, or some leafy greens — bonus points if those greens are organically grown in your own garden!

Try a sweet, crisp apple variety like Fuji or Honeycrisp for this one.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium apples, thinly sliced
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Whatever else you want to add!

Make it!

Assemble sliced apples and cheese (and any additions) on a tortilla. Place on a lightly oiled pan or cast iron skillet. Top with another tortilla and grill until cheese is melted and tortillas.

 

 

 


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

True Organic Cool Weather Gardening Checklist

October 25, 2022

TRUE TIPS

 

Cool Weather Gardening Checklist

It might feel like Summer is hardly over, but it’s time to get busy with Fall garden tasks! Tomatoes are waning, and so is daylight — but there’s still plenty to do in the garden during the cooler months. It’s time to clear out those annuals, replenish your garden’s soil, and make things tidy. Working on your garden in early Fall will set you up for great success in Spring!

 

Know your Plant Hardiness Zone

Your own cold-weather gardening tasks, Fall crops, and what you’re harvesting in Fall will depend on your Plant Hardiness Zone — a standard set by the USDA to codify what types of plants do best in certain climates based on average climate temperatures.

Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your Zone.

 

Get in gear before the first freeze

You’ll want to get going before the first freeze in your area so the ground is soft enough to work with. As soon as the air starts to chill and several weeks before the first frost approaches, it’s time to retire that Summer garden and prepare for Winter.

Here are some go-to things you can do this season to get a head start on the most abundant Spring garden.

 

Time to pull up the annuals

Remove spent plants from your garden, making sure to remove the roots, too. You can throw them in the commercial compost bin or toss healthy (pest- and disease-free) plants in your backyard compost.

Got summer bulbs? While most bulbs are perennial, warm-weather bulbs won’t make it through a cold winter. (This depends on your gardening zone.) Remove those tender bulbs from the soil and set them in storage for next year.

 

Tidy up, weed, and turn soil

Rake your garden to clean up leaves and sticks. Put them in the compost bin or dispose. (But save good roasting sticks for bonfire s’mores!)

Fall is a great time to get very thorough with weeding. It’s tedious but will prepare you with pristine soil in the Spring.

It’s essential to turn soil in Fall if you want to have a healthy growing medium in Spring! Use a shovel to turn that well-worn soil, aerating and breaking up clumps.

 

Add twice-yearly soil supplements

And while you’re turning that soil, go ahead and add your choice of powerful single-ingredient organic fertilizers!

Biannual plant foods and soil supplements help replenish soil after those big growing seasons when soil can be left lacking in nutrients. Fall is the ideal time to feed soil with an organic fertilizer because nutrients will feed the soil all Winter.

 

What organic fertilizer should you choose this fall?

Plant cover crop

Nourish your garden’s soil with a cover crop! Cover crops will add organic matter and nutrients to soil and prevent erosion. Try a cover crop like rye or clover — it’s best to use annuals, not perennials, so you don’t get unwanted “volunteers” popping up in your Spring garden.

 

Enjoy the season of abundance!

Last-of-the-summer harvests and new fall crops can be some of the most delightful harvests: big squashes, full-bloom flowers, apples of all varieties, and perhaps even some final plump tomatoes (depending on your region).

Savor the Fall sun rays as you pick your last veggies, fruits, and flowers. There will be plenty more where that came from next year!

 

 


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

4 Things You Didn't Know: Bone Meal in Your Garden

October 11, 2022

TRUE TIPS

Single-ingredient plant foods can make a huge impact in your garden. Why? Because they contain high concentrations of specific nutrients that plants need. Let’s take a look at one of our most powerful single-ingredient plant foods: True Organic Bone Meal.

 

What Is Bone Meal?

Bone Meal is a nutrient-rich soil amendment made from ground animal bones, processed into a fine powder that can be easily applied to soil like any other granular plant food. It has a complex, potent makeup of nutrients that go a long way for soil and crops.

So what’s it good for? Bone Meal, which only needs to be applied to soil once in Spring and once in Fall, is celebrated for helping flowering and fruiting plants.

 

 

 

1: Bone Meal is a powerhouse provider of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Single-ingredient plant foods like True Organic Bone Meal are powerful supplements for plants and soil that can resolve problems in your garden caused by specific soil nutrient deficiencies.

Bone Meal doesn’t have a balanced nutrient profile — meaning that it’s not evenly distributing the “big three” nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to soil like many of our multi-ingredient granular blends.

What is does deliver is a big boost of phosphorus and nitrogen! That means Bone Meal (like our organic Blood Meal and Seabird Guano) is best used in situations where you know exactly what the soil needs — in other words, what it’s lacking.

Bone Meal delivers a strong supply of these two big nutrients: 

Nitrogen, which is essential to many factors of a healthy plant — and all of life on the planet! For one, nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound that allows plants to photosynthesize.

Phosphorus is an all-around plant supporter! It’s essential to support photosynthesis, rooting, flowering, seed production, and other vital functions. When soil is deficient in phosphorus, plants will have trouble flowering, fruiting, and seeding.

This makes Bone Meal an excellent choice for gardens with low-nitrogen soil, for flower gardens, and for gardeners hoping to produce lots of vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, and root crops like beets, carrots, and potatoes.

(Macronutrients are the elements that plants need in large quantities to build cells, grow, fruit, root, and survive. Micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities.)

Pro tip: It’s a great idea to do a soil test to assess if you need Bone Meal for your garden. Learn about soil testing in our interview with Margaret McCoy, PhD, our resident soil doctor.

 

2: It gives plants a needed boost of other macronutrients.

While you might immediately look at the N-P-K ratios of fertilizers as “headliner” macronutrients, plants also require smaller doses of other minerals to thrive. And Bone Meal contains a bunch of ‘em!

Calcium! As you can imagine, calcium is one of those nutrients supplied by Bone Meal. Calcium is a secondary macronutrient that helps plants build strong cell walls and grow robust roots. Therefore, Bone Meal is great for your root veggies — beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.

Calcium also helps prevent blossom end rot — which makes Bone Meal an excellent food for tomatoes.

Zinc and magnesium, two small-but-mighty nutrients, support overall plant health and are essential for photosynthesis. Zinc helps with chlorophyll production and magnesium supports photosynthesis.

Altogether, the nutrients in Bone Meal support fruit and flower production, strong roots, and all-season vitality.

 

3: Bone Meal only needs to be applied twice a year for sustained support.

The major nutrients in True Organic Bone Meal are released gradually over time, so this supplement feeds your garden (soil and plants) long-term.

We recommend applying Bone Meal to your soil once in Spring (before planting) and once in Fall (at the end of your season). This powerful plant food will feed your plants all season long!

Remember, this isn’t a supplement intended for “quick fixes.” When you use True Organic Bone Meal, you’re forming a long-term relationship with your soil. The nutrients in Bone Meal can take a few months to break down and be available for your crops.

Ehsan Toosi, PhD, our Director of Research & Development, calls Bone Meal a “sustained release” supplement. “It supports plants for the growing season and the next season.”

While this plant food is definitely not fast-release, the supply of certain nutrients (particularly calcium and phosphorus) depends on how finely ground the “meal” is and what type of bone is used, says Toosi. So keep in mind that using various brands of Bone Meal may yield different results!

 

4: True Organic Bone Meal is sustainable and certified food safe.

Just like every other True Organic plant food, our Bone Meal is certified food safe by Bureau Veritas, the highest standard in testing, inspection, and certification services. Read more about our food safety practices and what that means for you.

Of course, we know you’d never intentionally consume plant food! But think of it this way: what you apply to your edible garden will eventually end up on your dinner plate.

Along with being food safe, True Organic Bone Meal diverts animal waste from slaughterhouses, turning it into an organic, chemical-free addition to healthy soil which means a healthier ecosystem.

By utilizing a natural by-product that might otherwise become waste and feeding your crops with organic plant food, you’re working double-duty to develop a more sustainable lifestyle. Way to go!

 

 


- True Organic - TrueOrganic.com

True Organic Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

September 23, 2022

TRUE TIPS

Fun Gardening Activities for Kids

Want to help kids grow their emotional and cognitive skills, apply academic principles, get outside, and learn to love fruits and veggies? Get them into the garden!

Getting kids gardening during early childhood and beyond is incredibly beneficial — read about why in our interview with school garden expert, Christina Abuelo. It’s not just math and science skills that kids can learn as they experience gardening, but also social-emotional skills, problem-solving, nature-based nervous system regulation, cooperation, patience, and more.

Here are some ideas to kick off the fun and learning.

 

Child and mother gardening in vegetable garden in the backyard

Play Garden Bingo

Every parent, teacher, and babysitter knows that kids love to find stuff! And there’s plenty to find in the garden. Bees, worms, birds, leaves shaped like hearts, leaves shaped like arrows, all the colors of the rainbow…these are just a handful of items you can put on a garden bingo card.

Download and print this blank bingo card, then fill in your own ideas. A game of bingo encourages kids’ curiosity and gets them exploring independently, and can help them learn about identifying different plants and wildlife.

 

 

 

Keep A Garden Journal

Keeping a garden journal is a great way for kids to feel more connected with the natural world. (And garden journals are great for grown-up gardeners, too! Check out our blog on creating your own garden journal.)

Ask kids to write about what they see in the garden: What kind of bugs and birds are in the garden today? Did the plants grow, get new leaves, or produce more fruit?

Give kids a framework or template for their journals and let them explore!

Here are some ideas for more fun activities for a kids’ garden journal:

  • Drying flowers and/or seeds, taping or pasting into journals, and labeling
  • Tracking plants’ growth and yield
  • Measuring rainfall and watering schedules
  • Drawing and coloring plant pictures
  • Writing about how they took care of the garden
  • Writing about how the garden makes them feel or what they learned.

 

Math is more fun in the garden!

…And it “sticks” better, too!

Everyone learns and retains information in different ways, but for most people, doing something hands-on to learn an intellectual concept really helps it sink in. For kids who are visual or experiential learners, a garden provides opportunities to practice math skills in a way that might be retained more effectively.

Measuring, mixing, counting, and calculating are all easy to do in the garden.

For kids who are just learning numbers, counting how many tomatoes one plant has produced or how many ladybugs are crawling on a flower is a perfect activity.

A little older, and they’ll love measuring and recording the heights or weight of plants and fruits (which they can record in their garden journals).

For older kids who are learning 4th or 5th-grade math skills, help them measure and calculate square footage of garden beds or containers.

When it’s time to learn averages and medians, kids can calculate the average yield of fruiting crops or the median height of tomatoes…you’ll find that math problems in the garden are endless!

For kids who are ready to handle plant foods, a parent or teacher can supervise as they measure, mix, and apply soil supplements (just make sure it’s a certified Food Safe, organic plant food like True Organic).

 

Vegetable and Fruit Tasting

Nurture healthy palates and encourage budding chefs by helping kids harvest, prepare, and taste garden crops.

Christina Abuelo of Barrio Botany has seen first-hand how empowering kids to grow and eat their own food helps them develop taste buds that crave fresh veggies.

She suggests a “taste test” activity where kids get to try different flavor combinations, then vote on their favorites and explain what they liked or didn’t like. Kids love to express themselves, and it’s important for their development!

Not only that, Christina Abuelo says, “There’s something about being the one in charge. Harvesting something and cooking vegetables themselves makes the kids more excited about trying new flavors.”

Give kids a few different vegetables with dips and let them express their favorites. (Christina Abuelo suggests carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers dipped in hummus.)

This works great in school classrooms or summer camps or in any group of kids who are learning to express their preferences, nourish themselves independently, listen to others’ opinions, and try new things.

Older students can have fun developing their own recipes, too!

 

Gardening With Wee Ones

What about really little kids? Yes, toddlers can learn and play and help out in the garden! Little kiddos are at peak curiosity age. Help them with some simple activities like:

  • Watering
  • Planting seeds
  • Sorting and cleaning planters and containers
  • Identifying bugs and plants.

 

 

 

Remember to Have Fun!

Don’t get caught up in making it fancy or perfect. Start small! Just the joy of being outside, playing in the “dirt” will spark curiosity and creativity.

Remember: gardening isn’t about perfection. It’s about learning, connecting with nature, having fun, making mistakes, and encouraging kids to explore the world around them.