How does my garden grow? It is growing me in so many ways!
On Mother’s Day I had the joy of spending the afternoon outside with my family, planting our garden. My husband built raised beds this year after receiving scabs from a friends mill. We filled the beds with dirt, purchased our seeds and we were on our way to growing our own food…again. I have come to appreciate my gardening experience in several different ways. I feel a love for the process of preparing, planting, growing, caring for, and reaping my own food, from my own yard, with my own hands. I love the sense of accomplishment when the table is set with food that was planted, grown and cared for by our own hands. I enjoy taking the children outside in the afternoon and having them pick tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and zucchini for the evening meal. I even enjoy watering and pulling weeds. Time spent with them at my side in the garden is such a gift. I always love hearing their thoughts and dreams and watching them discover the fruits of our labor tucked in behind huge plants.
My family and I have had gardens before, and we enjoyed the process then. Never before have we paid such attention to planting quality food. We chose heirloom seeds and steered clear of genetically modified foods. We paid attention to who we purchased our soil and seeds from, and did our best to prepare it. We were purposeful in growing our food – not using sprays, and growing our food as organically as possible. The daily maintenance of watering, weeding, picking off bugs by hand, spoke to me on many levels. I thought of the importance of quality food for my body and for my spirit.
All of the children enjoyed the garden, but one of my daughters in particular always wanted to be with me while I was outside. She became quite the “Garden Girl.” She liked to look for the fruits of the plants. She would peek under vines and finds new squash, herbs, lettuces. She also provided the best organic pest control anyone could ask for. As she was busy picking bugs off the plants, and creating new habitats for them, she was gabbing away about her day and all the things she wants to do when she grows up, what she thinks about bugs and gardens, and fruits and vegetables, and how amazing God is because He has made so many things, how she wants to stay up late with me and, and, and…. What a sweet time we had!
The garden has offered many opportunties for me to look at my own spiritual life. I have experienced moments of prayer in my garden when the Lord has been able to use an example, right before my very eyes, about something He wants to show me. For instance, as I planted seeds, some things were so close together they did not grow well. I was reminded of the times in my walk when I have attempted to crowd too many things into my life. These times may produce a lot of vision or seedlings and good starts, but the health of the plants suffer, because things are too close together and they do not have the space to grow to a healthy size. Oh how I can relate to this when I am BUSY! The things I want to see healthy growth in don’t have the opportunity to come to their full potential because I needed to do some “thinning.”
Early in the summer, some of the plants we grew seemed to be stunted. They seemed fickle, growing and then stopping with the weather. The leaves were light in color and did not look healthy in early summer. As the spring took some time to warm up this year, and June still seemed like a very cool month – cooler then we are used to in Southern Oregon, I became concerned that the time and money we had spent on growing our own food may be unsuccessful. My plants responded to the weather and I was still harvesting in early November! I can be just as fickle at times. When life is sunny and happy, I am encouraged and impressed to grow and respond in a healthy way. When the day feels gloomy and cloudy I am more likely to respond in the same manner. Some of these plants needed more than water, they needed a boost from natural fertilizer. That fertilizer caused things to perk up and have new blooms. This is how I feel when I am encouraged and have had a boost from worship, the Word, and Christian friends. The Word is amazing and such a necessary part of my life. And, without it, I do not have the water that I need and I will not survive.
God spoke to me in many ways through the garden. He reminded me that He is like the ultimate Master Gardener, with the best organic practices. He waters my garden, keeps me fed, checks on my growth, and picks off the bugs as they come, and harvests the fruit as it is ready. When tending to those plants that were seeming to fail, after some trimming back and extra care, I would see life again. God gently reminded me of areas in my life that were struggling to stay healthy. I shed tears at times, with my hose in hand, remembering how much my Father loves me. I have received so much more from this garden than I ever anticipated. Great food, growing relationships with my children, and my God.