Sunday, October 2, 2011

Is the season finally over?

8:09 p.m. Today's project was to take our grandsons Adrian, 15 and Xavier, 14 out to the garden to earn some extra finances for their 4 day stay with us.

Three years ago, Adrian and Xavier, along with their great-grandpa Oliver, grandpa Steve and me, spread the original soil and dug irrigation ditches for our first garden in 25 years!! I'd gardened at our house over on Vallejo Street in the west end of town, but since toddler Heidi went behind me pulling out seedlings I planted, I figured that with 3 children, consisting of two preschoolers and homeschooler Sean (the boys' dad), Bible study writing and teaching, my plate was a little full!

The gardens got more productive as we composted and built up the soil, yielding plenty of tomatoes to can, cucumbers to pickle, cantaloupe, enough salad greens and carrots to keep our home fellowship supplied, and many bags of green beans, chopped green peppers, broccoli, chiles and peas for the freezer. And our corn improved as well, right along with the soil. We even had "volunteer" red potatoes.

This year, gophers attacked our winter crops, and took some weeks to get under control with "Gopher Purge" plants that are like a natural poison to them. A ground squirrel then moved in on the tomatoes, and rats after that! Things went from bad to worse, and I found myself just grieved, asking the Lord if all of the time, money and effort Steve and I had invested were for nought in 2011. I was pleased that the ladies I'd taught in my Heart to Home gardening classes were having great success with their gardens, even bringing me produce at Thursday morning Bible study! I was reluctantly made to see that my teaching ministry was offering spiritual satisfaction and more edible benefits to others than accomplishing my own personal goals! (I ask that you not suggest the old bromide "Those who can, do--those who can't, teach")! Romans 12:6-7 says,

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching...

Tonight, as the boys and I tore out the Jolly Green Giant, a green bean plant over six feet tall, that bent over to attach to three different poles, then grabbed onto the fence in its last few weeks of life, we had to put some muscle into it. The boys learned that beans contain huge amounts of nitrogen, just perfect for composting in our bin. And Xavier, our arachnid expert, said, "There goes a brown recluse!" as it scampered away. But I stomped it. That's why you wear closed-toed, flat-bottomed shoes in the garden. We actually found some long green beans, enough for a meal. Tomorrow, we'll pull out some tomatillo plants, pick their fruit, and make some green salsa with the tiny hot peppers and scallions that are still growing well. The waning sun is still hot enough for our melons and Belll peppers, so we'll let them play out their season.

Next year in the garden begins in the next month, with the working in of our compost and some commercial planting mix for good measure. Life is more complicated now with Steve's comprehension lessening, but I think he'll still be up for all of the weeding, digging and raking called for in soil prep. There are new kids on the block, the sentinel Gopher purge plants that I hope to make perennials. I'm certainly not going to plow them under, since they did such a great job repulsing our nemesis, the gopher.

It doesn't seem that the Lord is telling me to call it quits, but to take more concern with pest and vector control. I think the bait trap in the garden is working against the rats, but they tend to show up later on to eat the veggies and strawberries, not chew vines or greens. I'm glad the insect problem was lessened, which I attribute to the reappearance of birds, hallelujah! And if I am to be honest with myself, and want a successful, producing garden, I need to be out there every day like I was in past seasons.

This frustrating garden season was sad, but encouraging in many ways as well. The few tomatoes I salvaged were delicious, and so were the small amounts of other vegetables that resisted disease and predators. I truly appreciate the exhortation in Ephesians 4:28b,

Let him labor, working with his hands what is good, to have something to give to give to him who has need.

In 2011-12, unless Jesus calls the church up to heaven, I will be working my soil and planting my garden once again!

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