Nutrition Corner: Get ready to grow your own veggies

April 15th, 2016 11:14 am

The weather has changed once again, and springtime has hit northeast Pennsylvania.

It’s time to begin your vegetable garden as this is the time when the last frost occurs in most parts of the country. The last frost date will vary depending on your location, but it’s important to use it as a guideline.

In Pittston and surrounding areas, the last freeze date is during the time period of May 1 through May 15. If the soil is too cold, germination (early growth of the seeds) is slowed; this makes the seeds vulnerable to fungus and other diseases. Stay tuned to your local weather to determine your last freeze date.

To have that lush garden full of delicious veggies when summer rolls around, you’ve got to make sure your seeds have the best possible growing environment. Select those seeds which are best to grown in your area.

It’s time to move outdoors to begin to prepare the ground for planting. First loosen the soil with a garden rake, hoe or shovel and add some kind of organic matter to the existing ground.

Now you’re ready to begin planting. Different plants require different depths in the soil but generally, plant seeds at a depth that is twice their diameter. Following this rule, you’ll find that the smallest seeds will be planted just beneath the surface.

Once the seedlings reach 1-2 inches, it’s time to thin by pulling out every other seedling. Thinning allows the seedlings to grow to full potential height. It’s also important to check the soil for moisture. If it hasn’t rained, let your finger be your guide to watering. If a small amount of the soil sticks to your fingertip, there is no need to water. If no soil sticks to your fingertip, you need to water.

Growing vegetables like cucumbers and beans is fun to watch. Children will be more interested in eating those veggies when they’ve been involved in growing them.

We know that we need to boost our vegetables every day. We also need to ensure that half of our grains are from whole grains. That includes oatmeal, popcorn, whole grain breads and grains like barley, brown rice, whole grain cornmeal, quinoa, and rolled rye flakes. Many folks are trying to boost whole grains in their diets as well as reduce sodium.

Here is a great recipe that is easy to make and includes whole grains with little or no salt.

Three grain biscuits

¾ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-grain cornmeal

3 teaspoons baking powder

¼ cup shortening

½ cup old-fashion or quick-cooking oats

¾ cup skim milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix flours, cornmeal and baking powder. Cut in shortening using two table knives or pastry blender.

Stir in oats. Stir in milk and form a ball. Place on lightly-floured board. Knead 10 times. Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thick. Cut with 2 1/2 in round cutter or the rim of a glass.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Brush with milk.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Optional, sprinkle grated asiago or parmesan cheese after brushing with milk.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford Counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at