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.

 

How Do You Winterize Your Garden Plot?

“Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time.” –William Cowper

Fall is in full swing and winter is coming around the corner. The vegetable garden has stopped producing and the frost has killed off the remaining flowers. Time to think about how your garden is going to rest for a few months.

First off, how do you store your garden supplies? I stack my tomato cages together in groups of 5 or 6 of like sizes. Then I put them in front of my wood shed. Ideally, they would be stored out of the weather but I don’t have extra space to spare. My fence isn’t a permanent one. So with help from my boys, we pull up the stakes and roll the fencing up . I put it next to my cages – keeping all supplies together.

Secondly, is to clean the garden plot. Some people will pull up all the plants & weeds and put them in a compost bin. I don’t do this. Instead, I pull up the vegetable plants and leave them on the ground. We use the garden plot to burn our leaves that have fallen on that side of the yard. Burning the garden plot is beneficial for it too. Any diseases from that growing season would be killed. The ash of organic matter is added back into the soil as potash. This aids in balancing the pH value of the soil, helps with flowering & fruit growth, and is a pest deterrent for slugs and snails.

Thirdly, is to til the garden. This will mix in the added nutrients from the leaves and ash. It will loosen any remaining roots from the plants and weeds. Also, tilling will add more pathways in the soil where more air & water can penetrate and be stored.

The fourth step to winterizing the garden is to add mulch, compost, manure, or ground cover. Basically a layer of something to prevent additional weeds from taking over. This year, we have the opportunity to have a way to get some horse manure from a friend’s farm. This manure contains a great source of nutrients for the soil to absorb as it breaks down over the winter months.

A time for rest isn’t a new practice. God started it in the very beginning. The Bible tells us he created for six days and then took a rest. It was not because he was tired. It was to show us to have faith that he will take care of things while you rest. Just because you aren’t working the topside of the garden, it doesn’t mean things aren’t happening in the soil underneath. So be obedient and rest your garden and yourself for a season.

 

Do You Save Seeds to Repeat Success?

“Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.” –Marion Zimmer Bradley

Saving seeds from plants for future plantings has been around for generations. However, thanks to technology advancements, not all seeds from produce will be successful in developing into a new plant. The plant varieties with a better chance of reproducing itself are known as open-pollinated, heirloom, and organic. These varieties rely on nature to pollinate them. Hybrid or GMO (genetically modified organism) plants are made to be hard to reproduce themselves. The actual process of seed saving can be tedious and requires strict guidelines in order to not get a new plant that has cross pollinated with another one during the previous season in the garden. For this reason, I do not try to save seeds from my vegetables. If you would like to try seed savings, I would advise you to do more research on the internet.

Despite the fact of seed saving of vegetables is difficult to do, saving those from flowers is much easier. Once the flower is brown & dead, pluck it from its stem. If the flower petals are not super dry, lay them on a plate to allow them to continue to dry. Now that the petals are brittle, carefully pull them apart to find the flower seed pod or seeds on the inside. Put the seeds in a seal able bag or container and don’t forget to label them. I have saved my dead zinnia and marigold flowers this year. I didn’t bother separating the two either. I want to be surprised to see the color and variety mixture next year in the garden.

Seed saving for a repeat success is unknown til the next growing season. Seeds contain nutrients for that particular plant to grow and bloom. God also saves seeds and plants them in his own time. The Holy Spirit acts like the gardener ensuring that those seeds of faith show themselves at the right time. No one person knows whether the saved seeds will survive to bloom. But God knows that if the seeds are not sown at the right time, saving them won’t matter. Let him grow your seeds and let others see him in your success.

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.

Bountiful Harvest to be Savored Now and Preserved for Later

“It is like seeds put in the soil – the more one sows, the greater the harvest.” –Orison Swett Marden

I have been very pleased with my vegetable garden this year. Even though it was started late (due to a cool, wet spring) and had several challenges (insect pest, fungal disease, and drought like conditions) to deal with. This is the first year I can say that everything in my garden I started from seeds. Each year, after reviewing the previous growing season’s records, I challenge myself to try new designs, new varieties, and to try to get a bigger harvest.

In the spring, I filled my seed trays with several varieties of tomatoes, sweet peppers, and spicy peppers. The other plant seeds were direct sow, once the ground was ready for them. I ended up with 50 tomato plants in the garden!! Varieties included Rutger, Beefsteak, Amish Paste, Druzba, Brandywine, and Granny Cantrell’s German Pink tomatoes. All produced tomatoes except for 2 plants (which one the stem broke early on and had to be transplanted again). The sweet pepper plants all produced and varieties included Carolina Wonder Sweet Bell, Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Sweet, Lipstick Sweet, and Gypsy Sweet. The spicy peppers were slow to produce, however, finally did with the late summer heat. Those varieties included Orozco Carrot Chile, Jalapeno, and Ancho Poblano. The pole beans and purple hull pink-eyed peas also produced a lot of vegetables. Oh, I can’t forget about the numerous flowers interspersed in the garden. The marigolds, zinnas, and wildflowers were a big help attracting insects to the garden.

My harvest days from the garden began about a month ago. Along with watering two to three times a week (since we hadn’t gotten rain in a while), I picked vegetables twice a week as they ripened. With all the abundance of vegetables, I have cooked with some, frozen some, made pizza sauce, veggie pasta sauce, salsa, and even canned some up for later cooking and enjoying.

As harvest relates to God, I leave you with a few scriptures:

Sow fields and plant vineyards, & gather a fruitful harvest. Psalm 107:37

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

If you plant goodness, you will harvest faithful love. Plow your ground, and you will harvest with the Lord. He will make goodness fall on you like rain. Hosea 10:12

 

Do You Have Perseverance for Your Garden to Harvest?

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that gets us back into the slow circles of nature is help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” –May Sarton

Gardening isn’t a fast process, especially vegetable gardening. It takes a lot of perseverance or patience to tend to a garden. A lot of awareness to the plants’ well being, especially when obstacles or discouragement try to set in.

If you are starting from seeds, you have certain steps to go through along a time line to ensure your seeds become strong seedlings worthy of transplanting. You have to be aware of the weather and wait til the conditions of the soil are just rights to put plants into it. If you rush to put them in the ground (whether from seedlings or plants purchased), you may risk losing them or damaging them cause of the coolness of the soil.

Did you know there are approximate harvest dates to vegetables? I use to think those dates were from when the seed sprouted to harvest. Boy was I wrong. Those approximate dates refer to the time period after the plants are in their forever homes, whether that is in the ground or in containers. So you must have more patience and diligence with the weather and soil conditions to provide what is needed for the plants to grow. Sometimes you even have to lend a hand with watering and fertilizing. Even more perseverance when you see other people’s gardens already having ripe produce and your garden is just beginning to set flowers and fruits out.

Every patch of dirt is different, so every garden grows at its own pace. Every person is different and methods of success is different. Have patience and faith in the processes. God has patience with us. He has perseverance to see you and your garden to harvest. God will show you grace with his gifts. Rest up for your harvest. If God’s involved, it will be sufficient.