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Get Ready for Gardening!

Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Every April communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate National Garden Month. Gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get physical activity, beautify the community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables. Benefits of Gardening: Fruits and vegetables- more matters. Gardens can motivate children to try new fruits and vegetables, and kids are eager to taste the 'fruits' of their labor. Fruits and vegetables are an important source of vitamins and minerals, provide fiber, color and texture, and may reduce disease risk. Gardening with your kids will get them excited about the plants on their plate. Be more physically active. Did you know you can burn up to 150 calories by gardening for approximately 30-45 minutes? If you have been inactive, start out gradually each day, building up time and intensity. Vary your gardening activities to keep it interesting and broaden the benefits. Grow a successful garden. According to the National Gardening Association, the best way to launch a successful garden is to start small and choose varieties that do well in your area. You might start with vegetables you or your children already enjoy, or try selecting plants around a theme such as a rainbow garden to increase their interest. Additional Resources & Links: National Gardening Association: Iowa Master Gardner Program: Iowa State Extension, Gardening: From the California Asparagus Association: Parmesan Asparagus Spears 8 servings 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tsp olive oil 1 tsp dijon mustard 1 tsp salt 2 1/2 lbs asparagus spears 2 Tbsp shaved parmesan cheese Stir together vinegar, oil, mustard in a large bowl. Set aside while cooking asparagus. Heat 2 inches of water and half the salt to boiling in a large, deep skillet. Break or slice off the lower stems of the asparagus spears. Rinse and place half the spears in the boiling water. Cover and cook 5 – 6 minutes, or just until tender crisp. Transfer asparagus to the bowl with the vinegar mixture. Duplicate process with remaining asparagus. Toss gently until spears are evenly coated. Place asparagus on serving plate. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

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