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5 Ways to Protect Your Garden from a Winter Freeze

Today we continue our gardening series with Dr. Mary Ball, PhD, who after a 40-year career as a college biology professor, became a Tennessee Master Gardener and enjoys gardening with kids. Dr. Ball has helped secure funding for gardening, nutrition education, and hundreds of dollars worth of donated seeds to schools and afterschool programs in rural East Tennessee. 

2015 October - Mary Ball - Building a Low Tunnel Season Extender[1]

“Bed Covers” (also called “Season Extenders” and “Low Tunnels”) are easy and fun to make and really do work to keep plants protected on cold Fall nights!

If you haven’t already had an overnight freeze, you may still have some vegetable plants you can protect to extend their production. Dr. Mary Ball is here with 5 ways to protect your garden from a winter freeze.

Here’s what to do before a “frost” or “hard freeze” occurs:

  1. Survey Your Garden for Warm Spots and Cold Spots – Your own property temperatures can differ from those predicted for your community or even those of your neighbors. A raised bed near a south-facing brick wall may stay above freezing, while a bed in a “valley” in your yard may experience colder air. Plants in containers lose heat more rapidly, so consider moving them indoors or into a garage or “backyard greenhouse.”
  2. Don’t worry about frost-tolerant plants – According to Horticulture Magazine, vegetables that can survive light frosts (30 – 32 ̊F range) include beets, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, green onions, potatoes, lettuce, mustard, parsnips, radishes, salsify, spinach, and Swiss chard. Ones that can survive temperatures as low as 20 ̊F before being killed include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, rutabagas, and turnips.
  3. Harvest vulnerable produce early – Pick all remaining tomatoes and let them finish ripening indoors. Pick remaining basil, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, and sweet peppers and use them in recipes calling for “baby ____!”
  4. Trap warm air to keep plants warm – To save tomato and pepper plants that are still producing, use a milk jug or 2-liter bottle with the bottom cut off to trap warm air close to the plant overnight. You can also cover a DIY frame made using bent PVC pipes and metal “hoops” with garden fabric. (Avoid plastic sheeting because sunshine can heat the plant too much.)
  5. Use warm water to keep plants warm – For a single cold night, use milk jugs filled with hot water to “circle” the plant. For a predicted string of cold nights, wrap water-filled jugs in black plastic so they will reheat more on sunny days.
2015 October - Mary Ball - Another Season Extender

Fall flowers add color to a bare bed and can be used to test how well DIY “season extenders” work.



Teach Kids the Importance of Hydration

Kidney Brothers - teach kids the importance of hydrationIt’s pretty well understood by most that during the super hot and steamy months, drinking plenty of water is essential in preventing dehydration. With the cooler temps rolling in, the feeling of thirst when playing outside or competing in outdoor sports is less prevalent. Therefore, it’s vital to teach kids the importance of hydration all year long so that they continue to drink enough water despite feeling less thirsty in the colder temperatures.

Kids need to realize that our bodies still need the same amount of water to function properly and stay healthy. The Kidney Brothers are happy to teach kids the importance of hydration through a fun football analogy.

Download the football-inspired coloring sheet to help teach kids the importance of hydration:






Happy Hydrating!

Apple Taste Test and Interesting Facts

Apple taste test

Happy National Apple Month! Apples are also an OrganWise Guys Foods of the Month, and the perfect food for the fall. They are such a versatile food and can be used in anything from salads to desserts.

Here are some interesting apple facts:

  • Americans eat about 120 apples apiece each year!
  • Apples are nutritious because they contain lots of fiber, vitamins C, B6, and A, and potassium, as well as antioxidants.
  • There are about 2500 known varieties grown in the United States.
  • 36 states grow them with Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia being the top production states.
  • Most are available all year round and are a perfect take-along snack anytime!
  • Apples don’t require peeling so eat the skin because it contains healthy nutrients.

Try introducing several different apple varieties to kids using this interactive apple taste test worksheet. Taste testing is a really fun way to introduce new foods to kids where they may typically be more close minded about trying new things.

We would love to hear about your at-home taste tests! Share with us how it went and include any pictures of the finished worksheets on our Facebook page!





Wear Comfortable Shoes on Halloween

OWG_Blog_Art_10-8-15It’s the beginning of October, but definitely not too early to be talking about Halloween. Kids anticipate this holiday for weeks; talking all about their costumes, and of course the sweet treats that are passed out. With all the excitement of Halloween, it’s important to remember that there are some things to consider to make sure kids are prepared and safe on the big night.

We will share a few trick or treating tips throughout the month and the first one is to make sure and wear comfortable shoes. While a costume may call for some crazy shoes, make sure to consider that there will be a lot of walking going on and the kids need to be comfortable.


Download the fun coloring and activity sheets that encourage kids to wear comfortable shoes on Halloween night:








Healthy Candy Apple Cookies

Healthy Candy Apple Cookies

Try these healthy apple cookies in October when apples are a Foods of the Month. Guess what? These healthy candy apple cookies contain no sugar or butter like typical cookies do. They are a delicious treat that has oatmeal, chopped apples, walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Have them for dessert or they would also make an excellent on-the-go breakfast treat!

Healthy Candy Apple Cookies


1 cup instant oats

3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Sprinkle of salt

2 tbsp. melted coconut oil

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. natural maple syrup.

1 cup diced fuji apple

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Using a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (coconut oil, egg, vanilla, honey and maple syrup).
  3. Stir in the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients. When mixed together, add the apple and the dark chocolate chips, then let the ingredients sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Use your hands to roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls and place them on the parchment paper. Next, use a fork to flatten into a cookie shape. Bake in the oven 13-15 minutes then remove and let cool.
  6. Enjoy!

Celebrate National School Lunch Week 2015

NSLW2015 Social Media Bage


Next week is National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2015!! This year’s theme is “School Lunch Snapshot” and is all about sharing the best and real images of today’s school lunch.

Do you plan on participating in NSLW festivities this year? If you need some last minute ideas, be sure to check out the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) toolkit with lots of inspiration for making this year’s NSLW the best one ever. Click here to download your copy of the toolkit. Also, even though October 12-16, is the “official” week of celebration, we recommend being OrganWise and participate in fun activities to promote the consumption of healthy school lunches every week.

Here are some examples of how you can celebrate National School Lunch Week 2015:

  1. Get students involved – Make kids part of the celebration by having them participate in a contest, complete a survey about their favorite lunch foods, etc.
  2. DECORATE! – SNA has items for NSLW available and if you have an OrganWise Guys Foods of the Month Kit, be sure to show off all your buttons and posters to promote healthy foods.
  3. Keep parents in the loop – Download handouts from SNA and send home with students.
  4. Get the word out – Take to your school’s social media (facebook, twitter, etc) to promote NSLW. You can even share this blog post for awareness.
  5. Share your celebration – Take pictures, interview children and lunch staff, etc. Make this week a big celebration that you can share with your community.

What are you doing to celebrate National School Lunch Week 2015?


Benefits of Eating Leftovers

benefits of eating leftoversYou may or may not be a fan of eating leftovers in your household. Whether you enjoy them or not, the benefits of eating leftovers might just be worth it in the end.

First of all, if you had cooked your favorite meal the night before and made sure there were extras, you will be super excited about eating it all over again! Secondly, the meal preparation is practically eliminated the second time around as you’ve already done most of the work the previous night. Lastly, your wallet will thank you if you plan in leftovers throughout the week. One of the additional benefits of eating leftovers is that you are guaranteed an extra night of family time since you are eating your meal at home together again.

Download the coloring sheet today to see how Pepto discovers the benefits of eating leftovers:



Fall Activities for the Whole Family

Fall Activities for the Whole Family

Once fall rolls around, time seems to quickly accelerate towards the holidays. Before one can even pick out a Halloween costume the stores and television ads are already geared toward holiday shopping. With the craziness of the holiday season about to ensue, it’s important to prioritize quality time with friends and family so you can appreciate all the fall offerings. Whether it’s the cooler weather or the pumpkin lattes that excite you, take it in and enjoy before the holiday chaos begins.

Here are 8 fall activities that you can do with your friends and family:

  • Watch seasonal sporting events – Whether it be soccer, hockey, or your local high school or collegiate football team, grab your scarves and blankets to cozy up together on the bleachers.
  • Attend local Fall festivals – These are typically very family-friendly packed with plenty of food, games, prizes, and fun to be had by all.
  • Go to a haunted house – Even if you have some scaredy cats, this can be a good bonding experience!
  • Visit a pumpkin patch – Let the kids select their favorite pumpkins, carve them (adults, we are talking to you) in front of the cozy fireplace and cook those yummy pumpkin seeds. You can even change it up and have the kids paint the pumpkins or decorate them with some sparkly glitter.
  • Collect colorful leaves – Rake leaves into piles and let the kids jump in them. They can also help out with the raking as that definitely counts as physical activity! Let them select some of their favorite leaves and use them later for a fall craft. (Try Pinterest for crafty ideas.)
  • Make festive treats – Stir up some hot apple cider while making a tasty (and yes it can be healthy, too!) pumpkin or apple dessert, such as these simple apple pie wraps. Make sure to let the kids help with the food prep.
  • Family movie night – Fix some healthy snacks (this OrganWise-ified popcorn is a good one!) and gather around the couch for a scary movie marathon.
  • Sign up for a race – Pick a fun local event and the entire family can participate. They typically have a fun run/walk for the kids in addition to the actual race. Get some family exercise while supporting a good cause!

To make sure you are able to take part in these fun activities, try making a list like the one above and hang it in a central location. You will be much more likely to actually do some of these things and the kids love being able to cross off an event or task once completed. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind that it’s nice to have a reminder to stray a bit and engage in some fun, but not typical activities. So, jump into fall and plan your list of festivities now before the next round of holidays sneaks up on us!

Tooth Brushing Fun For Kids

Tooth brushing fun for kidsIt is always important for kids to make sure they are taking good care of their teeth. However, we thought that with Halloween coming up at the end of the month, kids could use an extra reminder to focus on dental hygiene. The OrganWise Guys know that with Halloween also comes candy and sugar. We promote healthy eating, but advocate for moderation with the not-so-healthy items. When eating excess sugar, we also like to make sure that kids are taking care of their teeth properly with toothpaste, floss and some mouthwash.

We have included some tooth brushing fun for kids with the following coloring and activity sheets. Make sure to get these worksheets and share with your kids so they remember to take care of their teeth this Halloween!

Download the worksheets for tooth brushing fun for kids:







Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Getting kids to brush their teeth

We continue our series promoting healthy behaviors to be implemented and tracked for an entire month (and hopefully beyond). In October we are focusing on dental health and working to get kids to brush their teeth at least twice a day, and floss them often. In addition to stressing the importance of keeping teeth properly brushed and flossed, it’s also necessary to teach kids about calcium and why it is essential for them to include calcium in their daily foods in order to build strong bones and teeth. To help get kids to brush their teeth regularly, make sure to download and print your free October Behavior Tracking Sheet and use in your home or other setting to encourage and track behavior change.

To promote good health, get kids to brush their teeth and encourage them to eat foods high in calcium. Watch as Calci M. Bone and The Kidney Brothers teach kids the “Calcium” cheer:

Here’s to eating calcium-rich foods and lots of teeth brushing!