“Mom, How do I know which one is a weed?”
When weeding a garden with children, you spend a good amount of time telling the children which weeds are in fact “weeds”. About two weeks ago we got some more baby chicks. A friend mentioned to chop up the dandelion leaves and feed them to the chicks for two reasons: 1) To train them to eat them (gain an acquired taste for dandelions) when they free range and 2) They contain a good amount vitamins that are good for the chicks.
Since our children were trained to “go pick dandelions for food for our chicks” they no longer view them as weeds. If you are to come over to our house, the children have chosen to “leave some dandelion food for the chicks” so I am sure you will see many!
“Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines. Traditionally, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.” Read more: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/dandelion-000236.htm#ixzz208VIs0F3
Similarly, when I was on bed-rest from a post partum hemorage, we were taught by an older woman in our church to pick “pig weed” (also known as amaranth) and to juice it, fry it with kale and spinach, and add it to salad for iron… to help rebuild my blood supply. So you can see the confusion for my children. We have baby veggies growing among weeds as well as medicinal plants that our culture normally calls weeds. (for more info on pigweed and it’s uses here is a little blog post on it: http://tinyfarmblog.com/pigweed-rehabilitated/)
What does the the dictionary define a weed as:
Weed: The general name for any plant that is useless or noxious [harmful, hurtful]… whatever plants grow among corn, grass, or in hedges, and which are either of no use to man or injurious to crops… (paraphrase from Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
Plant identification has become a fun and spiritually useful teaching tool!
What does the bible refer to weeds as being:
~ thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18, Matthew 7:16, Hebrews 6:8, ESV)
~nettles and brambles (Isaiah 34:13)
“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” Matthew 13:24-26, ESV (emphasis mine)
There are many different lessons that can be learned, all very valuable and profitable in this scripture passage… some of which we will address in later posts but for the sake of explaining a teaching to the children, these few verses were used alone to teach them that in life we can work (sow) and be simply running this race (living life) and our enemy satan tries to tempt us to sin… he plants weed seed, temptations in our life, just as he tempted Job (Jonah, Sampson, Jesus, and many others); and we need to recognize them so we can weed them out. Unfortunately, some weeds are unrecognizable at first… the disguise themselves, looking like fruit. In those cases one has to let them grow until their true identity is revealed.
Isn’t that so true for sin as well? It isn’t always easily recognizeable, nor do we want to recognize it or admit it, but when we do; when we confess and repent of it… then the real fruit in our life has so much more room to grow! Just like a veggie plant can be stifled in it’s growth because of weeds entangling it or hogging the good nutrients in the soil. The weeds (sin) in our lives can prevent us from being fruitful, and sometimes the little weeds can just prevent us from being as fruitful as we could have been.
There are so many fantastic lessons to talk through while gardening with your kids… teaching these truths and using God’s creation to teach you is a great way to embed truths in their minds for eternity. As you are working hard together, and talking… these are the memories and teachings that train in righteousness.
Angie & the Kids