Say “YES” to Other’s Surplus

“No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.” –Hugh Johnson

As a gardener, I am not a picky one. I try new varieties of plants each year. However, I stick with vegetables my family will eat. I am not one that will use up valuable space for ones that we don’t like. We have had problems in the past with moles in the yard and our soil is also rather rocky with layers of slate not too far under the ground. I would think that it would not be conducive to making any decent amount of carrots or potatoes, so I don’t plant any root vegetables.

My own garden has encountered difficulties this season. Started out cold and wet, then turned into extreme heat and dry. My health didn’t allow me to tend to it as much as it needed. My sprinkler broke. My schedule just got busy. However, not everyone had these difficulties. Just 15 to 20 minutes down the road either direction, the weather was much more garden friendly.

As a mom of two growing boys and me with food allergies, I am not one to say no to friends when they offer free food from their gardens. Fresh vegetables not from the store is trustworthy, more flavorful, and last longer. I am able to freeze items and can items up for a later time. So when I am offered a bag of peppers, box of tomatoes, or even corn from a farmer’s auction, I say YES!! Bring it to me or I can come get it! It may take me a day or so to prepare, cook, and preserve the bounty but it is so worth it weeks and months to come.

God will always provide food for you to eat. Tell him of your worries and trust him. Matthew 6:25.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

Hope for Weeding Experience

“One of the worst mistakes you can make as a gardener is to think you’re in charge.” –Janet Gillespie

This summer has been one with a lot of window daydreaming. I had an asthma flare-up. Simple, basic activities of normal life would leave me exhausted and out of breath. We are not sure as to what aggravated my asthma. It could have been a bacterial infection or even the thunderstorms that came through the previous weekend. In storms with strong wind, pollen can be stirred up and broken into tiny particles. Those particles can get lodged into the tiny bronchioles in the lungs. So for almost a month, my outdoor activities were limited. Add heat and humidity into the mix meant going outside only at a necessity.

God took over the tending of my garden. The plants have grown but so have the weeds. I finally got some energy back for a little maintenance in the garden. Twenty minutes later, energy gone for a while. Sitting on a step stool and pulling weeds by hand from one row. No using the cultivator to quickly rid the pathways of weeds.

Now my garden has a different issue NO RAIN! It has been over a month (same time as I got sick, mid-June) since we have had measurable rainfall. So I have been using my sprinkler every few days to water the garden. In the afternoon the dry dirt cracks reappear. It isn’t the same as a good day (or night) of rain. I have some produce on the plants yeah!- waiting for more from the flower blooms.

I am not in charge of plant growth, God is. I can help provide extra water. I can help provide extra food, by means of fertilizer. However, He is the one who provides the plants with the ability to grow and produce. We just need to sit back sometimes and have faith that He will.

(Side note, I wrote this last week but this week was Vacation Bible School at my church & I was the director of it. No time to post this.)

Gardening Simplicity

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” — Alfred Austin

One can dream and plan of what they want their garden to be like year after year. However, if the weather and abilities to put that plan in motion are not in your favor, you will need to be able to see your dream change to meet the new circumstances. I would love to have my garden blossoming with colors right now, as it is almost mid June. Yet, this year the weather conditions, asthma, allergies, and even baseball season came first over managing the gardening plans. Am I a little sad to see my garden at an early stage? Sure. But I know it will still have plenty of time to grow and be wonderful.

In the past, I have taken a lot of time making raised rows for the plant types. This year, I just made hills for each individual plant. I do this to ensure the plant has enough soft soil to sprawl the new roots into in order to get established. As well as to ensure the plant doesn’t drown, if a big rain storm comes along during that critical period.

In previous years, I had tried to plant a lot of vegetables in a small amount of space. My thinking was more plants equaled more produce. Yet, I discovered my sensitive skin would break out and itch after going into the garden. Did you know there actually is a skin allergy to tomato leaves? So just add that to my list of allergies. I made sure to space the tomatoes out and make the rows wide enough this time around. I have changed my thinking to more quality than quantity.

Furthermore, I want my garden to place of relaxing and discovering. I planted a lot of flowers in the garden and nearby. Natural attraction and resistance of good and bad insects are welcome to come by (or stay away).  I left plenty of empty space for my boys to dig in the dirt. To discover what lives in the dirt. Enjoy all aspects of what God has given us to help sustain us. If we don’t enjoy seeing the delicate processes that go on inside a garden, why do we have one. God desires us to seek him on a regular basis. Where else can we focus on his masterpieces than in a garden.

 

Cool Temperatures Bring Slow But Consistent Seedling Growth

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”–W.E. Johns

This winter and spring has seemed like such a roller coaster of temperatures that affected my early indoor planting. I would make plans to start the seed trays and then it would turn off cold again. Yes, I use a heating mat under them but once they are sprouted, off it goes. I live in an old house and the downstairs, where my plants are located,  is kept a little cooler than our bedrooms (saves money that way too). Therefore, I like to wait til the air around the seed tray is warmer, rather than shocking the seedlings from warm soil to cold soil once off the heating mat.

Hence, my plants were started later than I have planted them before. The cooler temperatures made the rate of germination (sprouting) slower and the overall growth of the plants slower. I have to take more care of them to ensure proper watering without encouraging fungi growth. I have to ensure more rotation under the plant full spectrum growth lamp where the seedlings don’t get too leggy but grow strong stems instead.

Consistent growth is all you ask for from your seeds. Give them warmth, light, nutrients, and water. Be patient as they grow to produce vegetables in their own time. Just as God is patient with you. He provides you with nutrients and guidance as long as you seek him and have faith.

Mini Greenhouses are Valuable when Starting from Seeds

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” –WE Johns

Greenhouses allow gardeners to expand their growing season. For most of us, having a normal size greenhouse isn’t possible. However, you can easily make mini ones out of milk jugs or other non clear container. You want to use opaque containers where the sun won’t be so bright on the tender seedlings. Drainage holes need to be punched into the bottom of the containers. Cut the milk jugs in half almost all the way around, leave the handle section in tack. Fill the milk jugs with potting soil in the bottom half, moisten the soil with warm water but don’t saturate it.  Put your seeds barely in the soil. Tape the container closed around the middle with duct tape. Make sure to label it withe the type of seeds and date started. Now just place them in a sunny place outside where they can also get moisture through the opening (where you left the cap off). Seedlings should emerge within 2 weeks. The best seeds to start this way are hardy annual flowers, cool temperature vegetables, and herbs. I have several varieties of marigolds, thai basil, snow peas, and baby leaf lettuce. Milk jug greenhouses are easy to start and require little attention. Once the seedlings are seen to be established inside the jugs, you will need to remove the tape and open them up. At this point, you have small pot plants that can be transplanted into your garden or remain in the milk jugs.

Other mini greenhouses are the tray varieties. I have a couple of those to start in a few days. I will have tomatoes and peppers in those trays. But unlike the milk jug greenhouses, the trays remain inside. They also need additional heating and light sources by way of heating mats and special grow lights. Because the space for the seeds are much smaller in the trays, it is recommended to use seed starting mix instead of potting soil. I did this last year and it worked out great!

The body can be viewed as a greenhouse for God’s grace. The Holy Spirit will put seeds or ideas in our minds. Over time we tend to those ideas and allow them to grow into thoughts and actions. He gives us special resources by way of bible studies and each other to learn from and share his love with.

Colorful Flower Breakthroughs Focus Spotlight on an Early Spring

“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” –Mark Twain

Here it is mid February and signs of spring are seen outside. Nature forgot to follow the calendar …. spring isn’t suppose to be for another month! However, daffodils are blooming, redbud trees are showing their pinkness, and the willow tree is bright green.

This is the time of year for planning. A time to look back and plan ahead. Questions to answer …What plants worked well for me last year? Where do I get my seeds for the garden? How much do I need to get? When do I start my indoor planting? Do I have supplies to do so? How does this early spring weather affect my planting?

“For everything is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

As Garden Slumbers Outside – Tend to Plants Inside

“Just because you’ve only got houseplants doesn’t mean you don’t have the gardening spirit – I look upon myself as an indoor gardener.” –Sara Moss-Wolfe

During the winter, I become an indoor gardener. The ground outside is hard and cold. The temperature inside is warm and inviting for plants to continue to thrive. I don’t have many plants to tend too, having 3 indoor cats limit the space and varieties of safe ones. Nonetheless, having live plants inside give benefits to everyone. They aid in air purification, improve mental wellness and concentration, add humidity to the air, boost productivity and make you feel better all around. Indoor plants need lots of sunshine and water. Tending to them will ensure to be tending to yourself. Getting sunlight during a time when outdoor activities are limited. Boosting your memory to watering them more often as the heat will dry them out quicker.

Winter is also a time to reflect. As we look back over our garden notes, we hope for better and bigger results in the future. For some though, it is a difficult and lonely time. Plants give a purpose to do things. God says he will always be with you, even in the difficult times. Just have faith and hope for the future. One with lots of sunshine of warmth, green grasses, and plenty of dirt to play in.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Talk you soon, keep dreaming.