It Worked!

Do you remember my crazy “early-February there is snow on the ground” attempt at planting my sale bulbs that should have been planted in October?

You know – the 400 bulbs we put on the ground and covered with the frozen blocks of top soil we got on clearance?

Yep – that crazy idea.

Would you believe –

tulip

It worked!

Well – kind of.

I didn’t get 400 beautiful flowers – not even a hundred.

Okay – barely 25.

But the ones that came are beautiful.

And it makes me happy.

Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Wait…don’t answer that.

 

Sowing Seeds Part 2

DSC_0097Buddy and I have been watching our flats of seeds very carefully to see any signs of life.

The broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and eggplant came up quickly, followed by the tomatoes.

But the entire flat of peppers remained barren.

There was no change.

A niggling of concern entered my mind.

Another week passed.

No sprouts.

Concern turned to worry as I envisioned an entire year without jalapeno and fresh peppers.

Every day we studied the dirt filled holes searching for any signs of life.

Finally – today – we saw our first tiny sprout.

And then another, and another.

Such a relief.

I was powerless to make those seeds sprout.

I had done all I could do. I planted. I watered. I kept them warm. And I waited.

It’s the waiting that’s hard.

God understands.

He said in Mark 4: 26-29 – “…This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

“All by itself the soil produces grain.”

I can’t break open each seed and force the spouts out.

I can’t pull each sprout into a stalk or create a head.

I cannot create or ripen one piece of fruit.

But I can plant.

I can prepare the soil.

I can water.

And I can wait.

Because the soil itself will produce the grain.

Everyday we have the opportunity to sow seeds of kindness, of love, of grace, of forgiveness.

But we cannot make those seeds sprout.

Or grow.

Or produce fruit.

Sometimes we want to dig in the soil a little and see if there’s any life. We want to force growth, create change.

But we are powerless.

We plant the seed.

And wait.

 

Sowing Seeds

I’ve been sowing seeds this week.

Hundreds of seeds.

Seed

Tiny little bits of black, white, or brown.

Tomato, pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage.

The first of thousands of seeds that I will sow this season – beans, corn, radishes, lettuce, kale….the list goes on and on.

Not every seed will grow.

Seed flats

Of the ones that do – not every one will produce.

Some will be eaten by varmints, ravished by bugs or destroyed by weather.

But still I sow, knowing that some will grow and flourish and bear much fruit.

I sow in faith, believing that in these tiny seeds there is a potential for an abundant harvest.

Tomatos

These aren’t the only seeds we sow in life.

Everyday I have the opportunity to sow seeds of kindness, of love, of grace. Seeds that could have eternal impact. Seeds that could change lives. Seeds that could bring the gospel to hurt and needy people.

Not every seed will sprout.

Not every seed will grow.

But still – I must sow knowing that some will grow and flourish and bear much fruit.

And I must have faith, believing that in each seed of kindness, each seed of love, each seed of grace, there is a potential for an abundant harvest.

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

Now That’s a Crazy Idea

You will never guess what I did Sunday afternoon.

It wasn’t your typical Ground Hog Day activity.

While the rest of the country was preparing for Super Bowl parties – my husband and I planted bulbs.

Yes bulbs. As in spring flowers.

spring bulbs

Yes, the ground is frozen.

Yes, there was 4 inches of snow on top.

And yes, I realize that this is an activity that most real gardeners took care of last fall. But I’m not a real gardener. I’m a real wife and mom who likes to pretend to garden and sometimes has to fly by the seat of her pants.

We had every good intention last fall. We extended the flower bed and laid out a new one. We got several bags of top soil at a rock bottom clearance price. We even bought almost 400 super cheap bulbs on clearance.

But life happened and we just never got the top soil out of the bags and in the beds. So the bulbs never made it out of their bags.

Finally – the boys just filled both bare beds with the leaf mulch they bagged up just as the snow started to fly.

My 400 bulbs were not planted.

And the top soil was still in bags – now frozen solid.

But just when it seemed like all was lost for this season – my amazing husband had a plan.

What if we raked the mulch back to expose the frozen bare ground? Then we could lay the bulbs out on the ground, put the frozen bags of top soil on top of them, and push the mulch over it all.

What a crazy idea?!

So we did it.

spring flowers

We planted 400 bulbs in less than 45 minutes – and that included pushing the wheelbarrows of frozen top soil through the snow from the machine shed to the flower beds.

We cut the plastic off the bricks of frozen dirt and laid them out like a puzzle.

And boom! We were done!

But will it work?

Time will tell.

But it does my heart happy to know that I planted a little hope for spring even as the snow is flying.

And we might have given the neighbors something to talk about. Again.

Photos by Anne Burgess and  Pam Brophy.

And She Snaps…

We had a bit of a thaw this week.

And as soon I smelled that wet earth – something snapped in me.

I craved zucchini.

And fresh tomatoes.

And corn on the cob slathered with butter.

So I brewed a cup of tea, dug out my favorite Baker Creek Seed catalog and started dreaming beautiful garden dreams.garden dreams

Oh the possibilities!

Do I stick with the tried and true – or venture out into new varieties?

How about purple cauliflower?

Or black tomatoes?

Or speckled lettuce?

Most definitely I need tam jalapenos. But I’ll skip the ghost peppers this year.

I wonder how hot Thai chilies are?

Or a chocolate habanero?

Oh look – there’s an alligator squash!

And the lettuces! I’ll take one of each please.

I have to find the Moon and Stars watermelon – Jan had some last summer and said it was the sweetest and best melon he has ever eaten.

This list is getting really long!

I wonder how much I’m spending?

Is my garden space big enough for all this?

Oh wait – I’ve totally missed the entire section on herbs!

And I forgot the flower seeds!

I’m gonna need another pot of tea.

The Night Before the Killer Frost

apple harvestTwas the night before the killing frost,

and all thru the house,

not a creature was stirring,

because they were all outside frantically picking apples!

And jalapenos and tomatoes and green beans.

But mostly apples.

Red Delicious. Golden Delicious. Red Rome. Granny Smith.

It was a bumper crop – limb breaking actually.

We filled every box and bucket we could find.

And still we had apples.

We’ve been slowly picking apples for the last two months, picking a box or bag as needed. There are several bags in the freezer, several quarts of apple pie filling on the shelf, and many, many crisps and pies consumed.

I see many, many more pies and crisps in our future.

But not tonight.

Tonight I want a hot shower, and a big cup of tea.

And maybe some chocolate.

The 18 Inch Hoe

on your kneesAs I was writing my last blog post about my neighbor Rose and her famous sugar cookies, I got to remembering what a character she was and how much she taught me.

Thin and wiry, she was one of the hardest working people I have ever met.  She moved quickly, slightly slumped over as if by making part of her body get there first, she would get more done.

And frugal! Even though her husband left her with enough money to live comfortably, she still sold eggs and her famous sugar cookies in town every week.

She would, of course, never throw anything away if it could still be used, so she would frequently bring objects for my husband to fix.

An avid gardener, one morning several years ago she broke her favorite hoe while weeding. She tore into our yard in her ancient car (she drove like she did everything else – fast!) and showed Jan a well-used hoe, the paint long gone,  with about 18 inches left of a broken handle. It was obvious that she had used the tool for years.

She showed Jan where the handle was cracking a second time at the point where it attached to the metal and asked him if he could fix it.

Although it looked hopeless, Jan said he would try and she could come back later to pick it up.

But when the handle literally fell apart in his hands, he knew there was no fixing it. The only solution was to put on a new handle. Thankfully we had one on hand because Rose didn’t like to wait.

He had the new handle on and the hoe sharpened when Rose returned, expected that she would be pleased.
18 inch hoe

She was not.

Actually, she was quite upset! She kept saying over and over, “But I don’t want a long handle! That handle broke years ago and it’s what I’m used to!”

So Jan – seeing that she would not be reconciled to what we considered an improvement – cut off that beautiful new wooden handle, although it pained him to do so.

When it was sanded smooth – Rose took her 18 inch hoe and drove away smiling.

We just shook our heads.

At the time it seemed like craziness – cutting off a brand new handle because she used to using a broken one.

I thought to myself how foolish to bend over to weed with an 18 inch hoe when you could stand up and use a full length one.

But now I know differently.

You see, Rose wasn’t bending over to use an 18 inch hoe.

She had learned through the years that the best way to get at the problem weeds in her garden was to get right down there with them.

On her knees.

She learned this the hard way, when the handle of her hoe broke years ago.

Isn’t wasn’t until some time later that I saw the life lesson found in that 18 inch hoe.

And like Rose , it took some brokenness before I discovered that the best way of getting at those problem areas in my life is –

On my knees.

How long is your hoe?

Battle of the Squash Bug

squash-bugs-1There’s a fierce battle raging inside my garden.

We call it the “Battle of the Squash Bug”.

Last year we had scorching heat and no rain for months. Our poor garden was withered and stunted despite the many hours we spent trying to keep it watered and alive.

We spent so much time watering that we had no time for insect control.

Weak and stressed plants attract varmints and one by one we watched our beloved squashes die. Butternut, spaghetti, acorn, even the prolific zucchini fell to the onslaught of the squash bug.

We retreated in defeat to focus on saving what we could in the rest of the garden. That, my friends, was a tactical error.

While we turned our attention to the tomatoes and corn and beans, those pesky varmints organized. They amassed thousands of new troops that quietly took cover over the winter.

And there they waited patiently for the first tender squash leaves of the season.

But this time – we were waiting, too.

Never again will we give up in defeat.

We are determined to be victorious this season!

We started with gloves and a bucket of rubbing alcohol, shuddering every time we plucked a bug and tossed him in the bucket to die. Hundreds, nay thousands died in that deadly chemical bath.

But it wasn’t enough – still they kept coming.

We painstakingly scraped the eggs off of the leaves and into the rubbing alcohol, and stamped out thousands of tiny blue nymphs, making this a battle that spans generations!

We plucked, we stepped on, we scraped. Yet the battle rages on.

Now – we’re in hand-to-hand combat.

Buddy and I pick them and squish them in our bare hands, relishing the stink of a dead squash bug.

Our focus is keen. Our passion is firm. Our cry is strong.

“Give me zucchini and give them death!”

Summertime

After a wet cold spring , we were all kinda wondering if summer would ever get here.

It did. This week.

And not just the weather! (Which is really hot and humid…)

We had our first guests of the season – 2 of my sisters, one soon-to-be-niece-in-law, one niece and her bff. (best friend forever)DSC_0218

Can you say shopping?! At a thrift store of course!

Pedro wasn’t here – he spent the week house sitting for a friend, leaving Buddy as the lone male in a house full of girls while Jan was at work.

So of course the the electric fence charger got knocked down in the mud, the entire fence was down, all the cows got out, and the water tank sprang a leak.

Oh – and we had a baby calf!

belted galloway calf

We miss you Pedro. Come home. Now.

We planted two more rows of sweet corn, two more rows of green beans, and lots of herbs. Still no weeding though. Maybe next week…

And we enlarged my flower bed!

DSC_0224

Okay – so it may not be the flower garden of my dreams – it is twice as big as last year!

Baby steps are still progress. 🙂

Don’t you think the wire fence adds to the charm and beauty of the scene?! Not. But it is a necessary evil to keep the silly chickens and cats out until the flowers get established.

Speaking of cats – we also had our first litter of kitties for the season. Still haven’t found them though.

And to top it all off – we’re packing for our annual family camping trip.

There’s just something about sleeping bags and Hershey bars and bug spray that says “Hello – it’s summer!”

Oh – and did I mention that it’s hot and humid?

 

A Garden in June

It’s wonderful to be home!

Quiet June mornings with the birds singing outside the window.

Sunny afternoons with blue skies and light breezes.

Laundry on the clothes line.

And weeds taking over the garden. 🙂

DSC_0158

But the plants are doing well! Look at that cauliflower! Isn’t that exciting! Now if I only knew when to harvest it. How big should it get before I eat it?

Thankfully my plants have caught up with the ones from the Amish store. They are loving this cooler weather and all the rain!

The squash, pumpkins, watermelons and cantaloupes are just popping through. We planted them so quickly that we didn’t get them labeled – so it will be a surprise to see where everything is!

DSC_0160
And my tomatoes are looking good, too! All fifty-six of them. 🙂 Still looking for that first yellow blossom.

The green beans are up, the first planting of corn is up and all seventy pepper plants are in the ground. (One can never have too many tam jalapenos!)

On this week’s to-do list: plant more corn!
DSC_0161This is the best crop of peas I’ve had in several years! They, too, love the cool and damp weather. Of course the Amish neighbors already have blossoms on theirs and have probably had several meals of them already – but at least mine are growing!

Which is more than I can say for my herbs – but then I haven’t even got them planted yet.

Maybe tomorrow.

Because I’m home.

I love being home.

June is such a hopeful month.