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.

 

Plants Change to Adapt to the Weather

“Unlike your favorite painting or sentimental vase, a landscape is alive and constantly changing.” –Author Unknown

As it has become autumn on the calendar and in the weather, the garden has changed in production and appearance. The cool days and even cooler nights has made it difficult for the plants to absorb enough nutrients to stay healthy. Add wet weather or excessive dew that doesn’t dry up quickly cause of lack of sunshine, mold and other disease can settle into the plants.

Tomato plants are heat loving plants. Mine has stopped putting out new fruit and the leaves have turned brown and dropped off. The same has happened with the purple hull peas. My pole beans and peppers are confused though. A lot of the pole bean vine has turned brown and dropped leaves. But then we had a week of hot weather again. Guess what – new flowers appeared and even new sprouts came up from the ground. Did you know that pole beans can produce right up to the frost date? The pepper plants reacted similarly, new flowers and veggies growing.

To extend your vegetable garden, one could plant crops suited for cooler climates. Some of those would include broccoli, greens, cabbage, radishes, beets, pumpkins, and numerous others. I personally do not plant for a fall garden. I can’t have the roughage (that most of those vegetables have) due to my Crohn’s Disease. So as the fall season begins so does the ending of my vegetable garden for the year.

The Bible verse says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Now that the garden isn’t needing a lot of attention, look around and see where you are needed next. Just because the visible growing season may be coming to an end, doesn’t mean life isn’t still growing. Rely on God through all your seasons.

My Rare Allergy Increases the Amount of Plants

“Gardening is medicine that does not need a prescription… and has no limit on dosage.” –Unknown

I bet that title got your attention and you are wondering how an allergy of mine can increase the amount of plants in my garden. Well, I am allergic to the spice called pepper. It now can be found in a ton of foods, sauces, and even powdered mixtures. I no longer have the convenience of eating out a most restaurants or picking up already made foods from the store. I can’t eat a lot of items on a buffet or pick up a pizza for dinner. I can’t even pick up a bottle of barbecue sauce to go on chicken for a quick meal or have ranch dressing unless I mix it from scratch. I joke with family that I would have more available food choices if I was gluten intolerant (thankfully I am not).

So with fixing practically everything from scratch, I need a lot of whole foods or minimally processed ones. I have learned to make my own pizza sauce and pasta sauce. Which taste so much better than jarred versions!  I have started really enjoying fried bell peppers. By the way, bell peppers are a different plant species from the pepper plants that are spicy or used to make black pepper. I enjoy my food a lot more than I use to by seasoning it from individual spices instead of mixes (which is huge seeing as eating was always just another chore to do when it hurt to eat with Crohn’s disease for so many years).

My garden has grown from 14 tomato plants to 50 tomato plants in 3 years! This was the first year I has success with growing them from seeds. I even gave away about a dozen of them. I cook with tomatoes, process them into sauces, can them up for later use, and even freeze some. My bell peppers or sweet peppers has also grown from 4 plants to 28! I freeze them and cook with them all year long. I can’t wait to see what amount of harvest God will bless me with this year.

 

Play with Dirt Work to get Healthy & Happy

“The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy.” –Proverb

What comes to your mind when someone says they are going to play with dirt? For me, I think back to childhood when I would play in the creek bed, dig for peanuts in the garden, and make mud pies with pretend chocolate milk in my cafe at Grandma’s house. For my boys, it has been moving dirt with toy dump trucks, digging out trenches to make streams and waterfalls, and various construction zones. It is about using your imagination to make a simple item that is in our everyday life into a memory that will last a lifetime.

Now as an adult, the phrase ‘dirt work’ can encompass various meanings. It can mean to simply move dirt from one location to another by means of large construction equipment like clearing land for a new building or development. It can mean under ground work for that building. It can also mean to work with landscaping, preparing an area for a garden, or even installing a pool. Anyway, I believe most of the people in those fields enjoy their ‘dirt work.’

Working with dirt has been proven to make a person healthier. Weather it is having a few potted plants inside your home, a flower or vegetable garden, or a big farm. Your body and soul will thank you. The pure act of gardening will reduce stress hormones and blood pressure, engage your senses, and strengthen your immune system. It will focus your mind on the present conditions around you, grow your mind as you learn new things on how to tend to those plants, and gain accountability for taking care of those plants. Outdoor gardening can get you moving more to stretch muscles while tending to the plants, to enjoy more sunshine which in turn will calm oneself, to become more observant, and possibly become more adventurous. All those things can release happy feelings in a person. I know it has been a joy for me to have a garden. It has helped me stay active and enjoy the pleasures of the coming harvest.

God says to acknowledge his presence in your work and he will bless your efforts. Show appreciation for God’s ability to give us what we need. He is with us as we work, giving us the necessary energy to do so. Now that should make any soul happy.