Each week I talk with Brian Patrick on Sacred Heart Radio about Bible foods & herbs. This week we chatted about getting kids interested in gardening. Give them a little plot or containers and let them grow their own produce. You’ll be amazed at how interested they become in eating different foods when they take ownership!
This is the parable about a farmer who went to sow seed of grain. Some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it. Some fell on rocky ground with not much soil and it germinated quickly since it didn’t have a lot of soil for the roots to grow down into. When the sun cam e out the plant withered away. Some seed fell among thorns and when it came up the thorns choked it out. Others fell into good soil and came up healthy and produced much grain.
What is fun to do is to tell the kids the story and talk about how their spiritual life can grow and prosper just like the seed that fell into good earth. When they plant the seeds, have them put a few into poor soil so that they can see the difference and compare a healthy spiritual life to a neglected one. And having them tend their own little garden will teach them life long lessons of responsibility. It gets them outside and gardening is great exercise.
Planning the garden: in the ground or in pots
Either works fine depending upon the space you have. If you plant in containers, you’ll have to water and fertilized a bit more.
Good plants for a children’s Bible garden:
Radishes and lettuces
These are super easy to grow and germinate quickly, so you get results. If you buy a seed packet of mixed greens, there will be some bitter greens in there so you can tell the story of the bitter greens eaten during Passover and what they symbolize. You can use an old colander to grow lettuce in.
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds but when grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a large plant.
This is about how our faith can grow. It starts out small and grows as we gain knowledge.
All of these are members of the mustard family and produce flowers in the shape of a cross. The flowers are edible.
The menorah, or candelabrum that Moses used in his tent of worship look a little like the sage plant, with a central stem and branches on either side. Let the kids dry some of the sage for Thanksgiving’s turkey and stuffing.
Legend has it that basil was growing for the first time ever outside of Christ’s tomb when he resurrected. Really easy to grow from seed. Great on pizzas and pasta.
Snapdragons are again easy to grow and so pretty. The flowers are edible and represent baby Jesus’ slippers.
Onions, Garlic, Cucumbers and Melons
Fun to grow and all are mentioned in the Book of Numbers (11:5) – about how the Israelites, during their flight from Egypt, missed these foods grown in Egypt. The kids can take onions and garlic that are sprouting in the pantry and simply plant them in the ground. They will grow in one season.
Melons and cucumbers are easy to grow, too, they just need room to roam. Both usually sprout in one week.
Pot them up and let them climb on a deck, or make a mound in the garden and plant several seeds.
Cantaloupe and baby watermelons are good choices and there are bush cucumbers that don’t require a lot of space.
Cilantro is the leafy part of this herb and coriander is the seed. Talk about how the coriander seed is compared to the manna that God provided for the people in the wilderness to keep them fed. Let the kids make salsa with the cilantro.
Mint, a tithing herb.
UPSIDE DOWN PIZZA
Let the kids decide on the toppings.
For each pizza you’ll need:
1 pita bread, 8”
Toppings: your choice
1 tablespoon each: (eyeball it – go to taste on these)
Pepperoni slices, quartered
Diced bell pepper
Basil torn into small pieces
Shake of Italian seasoning
Minced fresh garlic – just a little bit, about 1/8 teaspoon or a shake of Garlic powder
Parmesan to taste
In a 9” nonstick skillet, put pepperoni slices in. (If you’re not using pepperoni, add a bit of olive oil to the skillet before adding the rest of ingredients). Now add everything else, except Mozzarella and Parmesan. Cook for a minute or two and then add Mozzarella. Let it start to melt – this is the “glue” that holds the pizza together. Place a pita bread on top of this mixture and press firmly. Gently rotate the pita back and forth and in a circular motion to help combine ingredients together. You’ll want the ingredients to stay underneath the pita, so if necessary, take a spatula and push them under the pita.
Invert a flat plate over pan. Holding pan and plate firmly together, flip pizza onto plate. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Cut into wedges and enjoy!
KIDS BIBLE GARDEN SALSA
No real recipe here, but here’s how I do it:
Mince a good handful of cilantro. Put in a bowl. Add a couple nice cloves of garlic, also minced and 1/2 of a small onion, diced. (You can do this in a food processor). Add chopped tomatoes to taste – start out with about 2 pounds. Mix well. Now’s the time to add a jalapeno chile, minced (be careful – wear gloves) if you like a bit of heat. Stir in the juice of 1 lime, some salt and you’re ready to go.
FRESH MELON WITH MINT
Again, no real recipe, but easy for the kids to make: Cut up melons in bite size pieces. Add a bit of chopped mint and a drizzle of honey. Chill and serve.