Looks like a typical garden, right. Big deal. People grow gardens all over the world for a variety of reasons. The difference with this garden is that I can claim it as mine. To me, its a big deal! I have the honor, pleasure and responsibility of nurturing along the life in this garden until winter comes and the growing season ends. Living on my husband’s parents farm for the time being has enabled us the pleasure of being ‘masters’ of the garden this year while my mother-in-law takes some time off. She established the garden plots and cared for the soil leading up to this spring. This year, the full responsibility is on us.
In the foreground of this garden, (left to right) you can see kale, green leaf lettuce, carrots, red beets and rhubarb. Further back are broccoli, spinach, parsnips, celery and various herbs. Even further back you can see kaleidoscope lettuce, more carrots, yellow beets and lavender. And far far back, tiny rows of sprouting sweet corn. A month ago the corn patch was lush, thick grass. We tilled it up and pulled the grass clumps out by hand on a still, hot day. Later this summer, that former patch of ‘yard’ will produce sweet ears of corn! This is the lower garden.
Onto the upper garden.
(Photo below) In late April, a rather abnormal hail storm pelted the farm. This is what the upper garden looked like after the storm. Basically nothing. A few established strawberry plants in the front right corner licking their wounds from the hail storm and a broken greenhouse box. In the very top half, you can see our mounds of dirt containing the red and white potatoes and yellow onion bulbs. Nothing has sprouted yet from these mounds but underneath the soil, they’re working their magic…and probably giving a sigh of relief that they hadn’t sprouted to witness the hail pelt the berries.
(Below)- here we are about a month later in late May. It was a dry May in Central PA so we actually had to water the gardens every evening. In the top half of the garden, you can see the potatoes and onions really taking off. In the next few rows are our little tomato and pepper plants we started by seed in late March (indoors!).
(Below) and here we are in mid-June! Thankfully, God has graciously been doing our watering the last few weeks and everything is continuing to grow nicely. The potatoes in the top half of the garden have blossoms, the onions are really getting mature, the tomato plants are so large we need to ‘cage’ them to support their size and the peppers…well, of all of our garden plants, the peppers seem to be in no hurry to mature. The peppers can’t seem to graduate from nursery school.
The strawberry plants made a full recovery from the hail storm and are now producing a steady quantity of about 5 quarts every other day. We even doubled the strawberry patch this year with the new sprouts to the left of the mature patch. (The bricks in the patch are holding down the bird netting to protect the vulnerable berries.) I can’t say with any degree of certainty, but I think the mockingbird conveniently showed up last week because the strawberries started to ripen. That mockingbird, by the way, made his formal introduction to me in the middle of the night sometime last week and has been proudly singing his mockingbird songs ever since.
I am really looking forward to when all of the tilling, watering and weeding produces fresh produce for us to share with our families and friends. Yes, it will be nice to have fresh green beans and tomatoes in a few weeks/months for our evening dinners but I’m really looking forward to when our labor pays off enough to bless others with the return. There is also something extremely rewarding about watching life thrive. The seed turns into a tender sprout and then a spindly and awkward young plant and ultimately a mature, hardy, produce-bearing plant. From start to finish, we’re able to witness the life of those seeds thrive and bear fruit. Watching our sheep thrive has been equally enjoyable and rewarding this spring.
In a way, I think the joy from watching a life thrive is mirrored off of our Creator, God. He designed life. He breaths life into everything living. He nurtures life. Without him, creation simply wouldn’t be. Our Savior, Jesus, came “that we may have life, and have it to the full.” -John 10:10. He takes great pleasure in watching His creation grow and thrive and that same desire is mirrored onto His creation. We’ve also been able to watch broken life become redeemed. The hail storm that thumped the early garden growth didn’t last long. Life has a incredible will to…well…live. These tough garden plants have a determined will to live, facing anything short of actual death. Jesus wants to redeem our broken and empty lives and transform us into a thriving life overflowing with His grace that we can then pour out onto others. Am I a thriving life? Are you?