By Kimberly Bloom
Get your workout and healthy nutrition from one single family experience – gardening. Character Strength Department Editor, Kimberly Bloom tells you how and how rewarding it can be for both your family and friends.
One evening I was reading the simple story of the “The Little Red Hen” to my grandchildren, who were visiting. The moral of the story is that those who say no to contributing to a product do not deserve to enjoy the product. It teaches the virtue of the work ethic and personal initiative. It makes a poignant point that is quite relevant today - especially in our fast food world.
Vegetable gardening can be hard work. I happen to be one of those people, who really likes “the farm to table” concept. I take it to heart. I plan out my garden during the winter months. I prepare the ground with my husband, and even get manure from my neighbor’s horse farm to cultivate into the soil. The garden is a place for the entire family to work, exercise and fellowship together during the summer season.
I frequently have my grandchildren in the garden with me. When I first started doing this, my grandson, who I now call my “master gardener”, had a conversation with me while we were planting carrot seeds. He asked, “Will we be able to eat them tomorrow?” I told him it would be nice if it were that easy and then explained to him about being patient. However, instead of just talking about patience, my grandson, over the summer, was able to experience it as he watched the carrots grow until we eventually harvested them.
Part of the gardening process is sowing the seeds and buying the plants. I celebrate when the ‘garden’s in’ (fully planted) and definitely when ‘it’s up’ (ready to harvest). Sometimes I have to replant, and when you visit my little homestead that my husband and I affectionately call “Bloomshire”; you may very well find me crawling around my garden fighting back the weeds. I am an organic gardener so I take the hard work in stride. Gardening is therapeutic for me. It is also a comforting feeling knowing that I can, with God’s help and blessing, put good healthy food on my family’s table.
Try a couple of recipes from Eat, Drink, And Be Green by Michele Nielson.
The “Little Red Hen” had seeds, that she wanted to plant to produce the main ingredient that she would need to bake bread. The Little Red Hen asked quite a few barnyard neighbors if they would like to help. Unfortunately, no one wanted to help the Little Red Hen, until it was time to eat the freshly baked bread.
Over the years it is troubling how marketing, busyness, and peer pressure has driven us as a society toward processed foods. I call it fake food. Reading food labels now days requires you to know scientific jargon. It is no wonder I hear adults express that they don’t like vegetables. I believe that is because they really have never tried a really fresh garden vegetable plucked direct from the plant or pulled straight out of the ground. However, there is a way that you can begin to bring fresh bright colorful vegetables back into your life and others.
I always suggest for those that have never grown their own produce to start small. For example, getting a few large containers either clay pots, galvanized steel or plastic ones will work fine. The beauty of container gardening is that you don’t have to have a large space to garden. You just need a spot that allows plants to have five to six hours of sunshine a day.
During the spring season it is very easy to grow Black Simpson Lettuce, spinach, or a new favorite of mine, Corn Salad. These leafy greens will improve your diet and add flavor to your meals. Once the summer starts to heat up remove your spring plantings and plant Blue Lake Green Beans and/or tomato plants.
Herbs are also exceptional plants that do well in containers. Basil, oregano, dill, parsley are a few of my favorites. A new addition to my kitchen garden is Lemon Thyme, which I planted in a small antique wash-basin.
Once you get started on going green you will want to share your goods and help others get a taste of true food. Invite friends, co-workers, and family over to dinner. Let them help you cook by sending them out to your garden to get fresh produce and herbs. Realize that your garden is your ministry. It is a wonderful way to share your bounty and open the door to a variety of discussions.
Certainly there are many health and nutritional reasons to grow your own garden. However, working in your garden and watching it grow will strengthen you physically and build your faith. It sure gives clarity to Christ’s words, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed”.
LOOK MORE CLOSELY - CONNECTING WITH NEIGHBORS IN UNEXPECTED WAYS
That Lemon Thyme I started planting this year in the old wash basin in my herb garden is just one more way that gardening connects us with others in our community. Take a closer look and you'll see a honey bee. Turns out, the Lemon Thyme really attracts them and that directly supports our neighborhood community. How? Our neighbors have bee hives. So they help pollinate our garden and in turn our garden (vegetables, herbs, and flowers) contribute to the honey production. This is yet another example of how communities grow stronger together through gardening.