Plant a Seed & Watch It Grow!




What’s better than bringing home a watermelon from your local grocery store? Picking one out at the Farmers’ Market or picking one off the vine at a U-Pick farm. What’s even better than that? Picking one from your own garden!

Watermelons need lots of room, as they grow on a vining plant. In a small space, you can grow them upright in a pot on a trellis. As the fruit grows, you’ll need to use netting, stretchable cloth or a bag to create a hammock to support it.

To grow watermelon vertically in a pot, you’ll want a small variety. Your kids will be amazed at how many there are to choose from. (You might be, too!) Check out the photos and descriptions on the Washington State University website, where you’ll find such information as average weight, days the fruit takes to mature and the “Degrees Brix,” which indicates sweetness.

Buy seed packets rather than trying to use seeds from a watermelon you’ve bought at the store. Those are often hybrids, and their seeds won’t grow. You’ll find complete instructions for growing container watermelon at the Balcony Garden Web. (The grammar isn’t great, but the information is solid.)

In the meantime, here’s a peek at what your kids will get to see within just a few days of planting. Such a beautiful dance! And no, I don’t know what that language is–Greek, maybe?

Yours in wonder–

Barbara Jean the Story Queen

Healthy Food

Photo used with permission via Amanda Wray, Video used with permission via Ilkin Zeferli,



First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a chef. I’m not even a mom. What I know about healthy food and healthy eating I’ve learned by reading and doing, just like you.

What I am is a children’s book author. A Story Queen! My area of expertise is FUN. In the last dozen years, I’ve written a number of entertaining, award-winning picture books–about monsters, cats, Disney princesses–and veggies, of all things. 

I’m big on imagination. Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli encourages kids (the way my dad encouraged my siblings and me) to think of broccoli as crunchy, munchy, fun-to-eat trees. Once Upon a Parsnip is a fairytale rematch between Little Red Riding Hood (a vegetarian) and the Big Bad Wolf (NOT a vegetarian). Scary fun!

On the surface, neither of my veggie books is really about healthy eating–they’re just plain fun. But the fun is subversive: both books introduce and normalize the idea of eating healthy, fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. (Never underestimate the power of fun to get your kids to try something new!)

My goal in these pages is to find and share fun ways to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to children and to normalize healthy foods and healthy eating in their experience. My means is to expose them–through you, their parents and caregivers–to food-friendly books, videos, downloadable and printable posters and coloring pages, hands-on activities and kid-friendly recipes. Anything that equates healthy food and FUN!

I’m here for you–to help you make healthy eating feel as natural to your children as breathing.

Because healthy food and healthy fun make healthy kids. And that’s something all of us can get behind.


Barbara Jean Hicks, a.k.a. “The Story Queen”

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To purchase signed, personalized copies of my picture books, visit the “Books” page on my website.  To contact me about my well regarded young author presentations for schools, or for other enquiries, send an email from the “Contact” page at I look forward to hearing from you!

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