Tag Archives: organic fruit and veggies

Kids grow Bananas

Kids in Southern California can grow bananas in their yard by getting a pup from a neighbor’s banana plant or a banana corm from the nursery. Kids have been eating bananas for 10,000 years. An instant energy booster, bananas are rich in fiber, loaded with essential vitamins, and high in potassium and iron.The banana plant is not a tree, but the largest herbaceous flowering plant with about 1000 edible varieties. Bananas are tropical plants and grow more slowly here than in the tropics. Because some varieties grow to 20 feet tall, dwarf varieties growing to about 12 feet are best for fruit picking. Kids can choose a Dwarf Brazilian or Dwarf Namwah for sweet tasty bananas that grow well in Ventura County.

The banana has a corm instead of a trunk, which is a stem of the plant that stores nutrients from one growing season to help to grow roots, leaves, and flowers for the next growing season and has a rhizome that sprouts shallow and extensive root systems, like ginger or turmeric. Banana plants spread rapidly with their underground roots and need to be pruned to one or two stalks. It takes about 18 months for a stalk to start flowering. The curved fruit grows on the long flowering stalk and the bananas form in clusters called hands. Kids should wear old clothes to harvest them because sap from the bananas permanently stain. Each stalk will only bear fruit once and should be removed after a few replacement stalks grow.

Bananas like rich organic soil, lots of water, and heavy feeding when they are growing, spring through fall. Plant them near a warm south facing wall to protect them from winds and frost. Kids can prune the dead leaves and use them with lots of compost for mulch to hold in the moisture. In the winter, when they are dormant, water the bananas very little. Each flowering stalk holds 6 – 8 hands of bananas that ripen from the top. Kids can pick the ripe hand of bananas, leaving the green hands on the stalk to lengthen the harvest and not have too many ripe bananas at once.

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Kid Chef Broccoli Soup

Winter is the perfect time for a hot cup of soup. Using winter veggies from the garden, kids can make a healthy soup to take to school in their thermos or to have at home for an afternoon snack. Broccoli is rich in vitamins, minerals, omega-3, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients; plus it lowers the rates of cancer. Steaming is the best way to cook veggies, as steaming retains their flavor, texture, and nutrition. Kids can chop an entire organic broccoli with the stock included, 1 organic red potato, 1 stalk celery, and ¼ cup red onion. Steam the veggies for 10 minutes or until tender keeping the broccoli flowers a bright deep green. Set aside the broccoli flowers. In a sauce pan melt 1 tbsp organic vegan butter, stir in 1 tbsp organic whole wheat pastry flour, brown a minute, and stir in ½ cup organic almond milk. Put the broccoli stems, potato, celery, and onion in the blender with 1 cup veggie steam water and mix until smooth. Add the almond milk mixture, ½ tsp sea salt, and ¼ tsp ground cardamom and blend. To serve, pour the soup into bowls and place a broccoli flower on top.

Kids 7 Steps to a Healthy Diet

  1. Grow an organic fruit and veggie garden. Organic food is never treated with toxic pesticides or made from genetically modified organisms. Certain foods have been named “The Dirty Dozen” because of the high risk of toxins from pesticides. Kids can grow organic celery, spinach, bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce, and kale in their veggie garden and can’t wait to taste them. When kids eat a rainbow of veggies, they get all the nutrients they need to build strong minds and bodies.
  2. Choose fruit first and save sugar for special occasions. Kids can grow organic apples, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, grapes, and blueberries right where they live to avoid the toxic chemicals from the conventionally grown fruit. Eating organic fruit right off the tree makes the perfect snack or dessert that kids love. Fruits are filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, with none of the chemical additives, fat, sugar, or salt in processed snack foods.
  3. Go for Whole Grains. White bread has the bran and germ removed from the grains along with much of the nutrients. Kids can make sandwiches from organic whole wheat bread, rich in fiber and vitamins. Popcorn, a whole grain, is a healthy snack kids love. Organic old fashioned rolled oats take only minutes to cook from scratch to make a yummy oatmeal for breakfast.
  4. Choose healthy unsaturated fats from organic plant foods, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, which are good for the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. Unhealthy saturated fats come from animal products like meat, milk, and butter. Processed foods, fried foods, and margarine contain trans fats which are harmful to the heart’s health.
  5. Eat plenty of protein rich plants, like quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds, and many vegetables that also supply lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. When eating a variety of healthy foods, the amino acids combine to form protein chains in the body to provide plenty of protein.
  6. Drink filtered water and water infused with fruits instead of soda. Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks cause weight gain and tooth decay. Eating a whole fruit is a better choice than drinking fruit juice because it is packed with fiber. Kids can cut pieces of fruit and add them to a large container of water in the refrigerator for a refreshing drink. Pure water is vital to good health. Kids can carry a thermos of fresh water with them to keep hydrated.
  7. Read the labels on processed foods to help make healthy choices and learn to cook. Real food is made from ingredients kids can find in nature, like whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, herbs, and veggies. Avoid packaged, canned, and prepared food and choose fresh organic options as processed foods are filled with chemicals to make them look better and last longer. Kids gain a life long skill when they learn to cook whole, simple foods from scratch.

Microbes in the Garden

Microbes are everywhere in the environment, floating in the atmosphere, in the oceans, soil, and in our guts. When leaves fall in the forest, microbes decompose them into soil-building humus to feed the trees. Healthy soil makes healthy plants that produce fruits and veggies to grow healthy kids. Soil microbes purify our groundwater, decompose dead animals and plants, hold the soil in place, and help feed the plants that recycle our air. Organic matter added to the soil feeds and nourishes the worms, bacteria, and microbes, creating drainage and airflow important for healthy plant roots, as well as a balanced ecosystem to improve the environment. Kids can start a compost bin to create premium food for the soil and its microbes. Soil microbes break down the organic compost into useable food and nutrients for the plants and for kids who eat the veggies that grow on the plant.

On the other hand, chemical fertilizers injure the microbial life that sustains this healthy growth of veggies, lessens the nutrients, and drives up the salt index. Instead of using chemical fertilizers, kids can improve the structure of the soil and add billions of beneficial microbial creatures to the soil to invigorate the plants and improve the environment by recycling vegetable kitchen scraps and garden waste in a compost bin.
To keep healthy microbes in the soil, don’t walk on the veggie beds, don’t till the soil, don’t rake the leaves, don’t use chemical fertilizers, and don’t disturb the tree roots. Create pathways of wood chips around the fruit trees and veggie beds. Add compost as a mulch on top of the soil to improve the soil, hold in moisture, regulate the temperature of the soil, and prevent weeds from growing.

Almost all the foods we eat contain living microbes. In the gut, these beneficial microbes keep the small percentage of harmful bacteria in check and activate our immune systems. Soil microbes have been used to make many of our medicines: antibiotic compounds, immune suppressants, and probiotics. Antidepressant microbes in soil bacteria produce serotonin which makes gardening a stress reducer and mood lifter, improving cognitive functions and bringing happiness and healing to kids and gardeners rooting about in the soil.

Water is Life

Natural ecosystems, when healthy and functioning well, are vital to the economy. Healthy watersheds, wetlands, floodplains, and river systems store and cleanse our water supplies and control floods naturally. Nature’s services recharge groundwater with the natural flow of rivers and their floodplains; coastlines are replenished and soil is enriched. Kids can harvest water right where they live and use the water for their fruit and veggie gardens by attaching a rain barrel to the down spout from their roof. By using native plants rather than a lawn, contouring the landscape, making curb cuts from the street, and building swales, homeowners can harvest an abundance of rainwater on site.

However, the ability of freshwater swamps and river floodplains to store water, mitigate floods, and break down pollutants is stopped by levees and dams. Instead, floodwaters rush down the canals, reducing groundwater, removing the natural cleansing process, erasing habitats for birds and fish, and causing downstream flood risks. Rivers bearing high loads of nitrogen from chemical fertilizer runoffs that wetlands might otherwise absorb have contributed to the creation of more than 400 low-oxygen dead zones in coastal bays and estuaries around the world. Soils depleted of microbes and organic matter due to conventional agricultural practices no longer hold moisture for the plants and crops. Rain water runs rapidly over pavement that covers urban and suburban landscapes and, instead of soaking into the land, floods homes and pollutes creeks and bays.

Our engineers bulldoze, dike, and drain away Nature’s services by constructing dams, canals, and treatment plants to block and divert rivers. Dams and reservoirs used to store water, divert about 35% of river flows, trapping billions of tons of sediment that would have been carried to the sea to replenish the coasts, as a result, productive deltas, from the Nile to the Mississippi, are losing ground to the sea. The freshwater plants and animals are headed to extinction five times faster than the land species. Blending engineering, ecology, and economics into a holistic approach that recognizes the value of Nature’s services, our engineers can work with nature to rejuvenate watersheds and floodplains, and replenish rivers, soils, and groundwater.

Kids Drought-Resistant Veggie Garden

Kids can make the best use of moisture during times of water shortage by using several different organic solutions. Healthy garden soil itself holds moisture with its organic plants and compost. The organic matter in the soil also attracts earthworms and microorganisms to feed nutrients to the plant and produces humus to hold it in place. Kids need to fill their raised garden beds with rich organic soil from the nursery or local soil company.

Evaporation from above the soil can be reduced by mulching to keep moisture where it is available to the plants. Kids can spread mulch on top of the soil and around their veggie plants, in the form of shredded leaves, compost, or worm castings. Shade cloths and wind breaks also reduce evaporation by blocking the afternoon sun and preventing wind damage, depending on local conditions.

Instead of planting in rows, kids can plant their veggies close together surrounded by soil walls to pool the moisture. This close planting of veggies leaves little room for weeds and maximizes the garden space, and kids can rotate the crops by planting starter veggies when they harvest to keep away pests and diseases. Self watering containers, buried water pots, garden towers, and spiral gardens create microclimates for water saving and abundant harvests in small areas.

Kids can place rain barrels under a rain gutter to collect and channel the rain water to their veggie garden. Runoff can be reduced by using permeable materials for pathways, driveways, and patios, such as gravel, wood chips or pavers that allow the rain to soak into the ground, with runoff channels into planting beds. Kids can install a drip irrigation system with a timer set to water in the mornings to get the right amount of water directly to the roots of the plants at the right time of day. Finally, kids can choose the right vegetable variety to plant for their climate and location at the right time of year for the best water use.

Kids 6 Steps to Prevent Disease

  1. A healthy diet prevents many diseases. In the 1980’s, Americans started to eat more and more convenient, cheap processed foods, high in fat, sugar, and salt with chemical additives, fillers, and dyes. This American diet caused a dramatic rise in diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
  2. Heart disease, the number one killer in the United States, can be prevented by eating organic whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Because of processed foods and fast food restaurants, Americans are eating twice as much fats as they ate 50 years ago. Kids can plant an organic fruit and veggie garden to have easy access to fresh, inexpensive food.
  3. Foods in their original form are the healthiest. Kids can choose their favorite fruits and veggies to grow in their garden and learn to cook from scratch. Kids want to eat what they grow and gain self confidence when they can prepare a dish for their family. Family recipes can bring folks together cooking in the kitchen.
  4. Being active is good for the whole body. Many kids spend about seven hours a day using electronic devices indoors. Inactivity can weaken the brain and body parts. American Academy of Pediatrics advise limiting kids’ screen time to less than two hours a day. Gardening activities include both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Kids can have fun adventures and get healthy exercise working in the garden.
  5. Kids can prevent diseases like colds and flu by washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or preparing food. Contaminated food sickens hundreds of millions of people each year, especially from raw fish, raw meat, and raw eggs. Cleaning kitchen counters, cutting boards, utensils, and hands helps prevent sickness. 
  6. Human made toxins in the environment pollute the air, soil, and water. Pesticides are put on our conventionally grown food and sprayed in our cities. Families can avoid these and other human made chemical poisons by using natural cleaning products, air and water filters, and eating organic food from their garden.