It’s nearly April and here in Pennsylvania for some reason I am posting my gardening plans for this year while it snows outside. Lest I become discouraged by this brutally cold, overly snowy and now lingering winter I spend my days daydreaming and planning about what my gardens will look like in, what I hope, is a few weeks. This year, after much planning, and just a smidge of convincing my husband we built 5 new raised bed gardens which are in the location my previous traditional garden held, as well as a few extra yards of my lawn I have stolen. I actually started planning how and what I would do before I had even finished last summers harvesting or began the fall cleanup so to add insult to the already terrible winter I have been waiting most days impatiently for the cold to break and the snow to melt so I could take my excel formatted garden diagrams, hours of internet research on various crops and my ever growing garage full of poop (I was buying various composted manures over the winter when I found it at clearance prices) and actually do something.
So what am I doing? What will my journey from seed packet, to seedling, to harvest look like this year?
The plan is this:
I plan to start all my own or direct sow 82 square foot garden squares in a “3 season” harvest this year (spring: cool weather crops, summer: standard harvest, fall: a second round of cool weather crops). I started seeds as early as the middle of February and I direct sowed peas and spring onions starting this past weekend. I will also have 18 square feet of strawberries, my 3x 30 ft red raspberry bed (which will fruit twice this year because I did not prune to the ground this season), my 3x 20 ft black raspberry bed, I added 1 blueberry bush this year so I now have a total of 3 and my lone peach tree.
This is the first year that I am attempting to keep a good log of how things go and I hope to blog about it as I go.
Above is my 3 season sowing and harvesting plan for the garden. I am using a square foot gardening plan and so based on the size of the crop I will plant 1, 4, 8, 9, or 16 of each crop per square foot (for example 1 tomato or 16 scallions).
I am “self-help” non-fiction averse. I hope to stay this way, even though I am making a small deviation/exception for a season of life. I say I am averse because I’m not entirely sold out for someone else “having all the answers.” I believe that the only truly flawless “self help” book is the inerrant work of God, the Bible and thus no “book” can ever really live up to that. I am inclined to make exceptions when I feel the author has strong biblical principles dictating the processes they outline in their book (as opposed to a list of behavior adaptations to address but not solve a sin issue in our lives) and when I feel the author can be read along side the Bible in a reasonable way. As a rule, I don’t think their is a “laundry list” or set plan that can fix me or anyone else without addressing the fall and our sin nature through God’s biblical direction in our lives and as such, in my mind, a deep and personal study of the Bible typically offers a better life changing experience. Because I am not all together opposed though I do, on occasion, use a piece of non-fiction to inform my bible study practices. I recently did a “self-help” style bible study, which I enjoyed but I felt a bit trapped by the author’s perspective (of which I didn’t always agree or see his biblical backing to be strong) but I had a desire to “not throw the baby out with the bath water” as the study leader also so well put it. In the end the study was good and I took away from it many “soul training” practices or disciplines that I can and some that I have put into practice to enrich my walk with Christ. I also read, and am now rereading for our small group study, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Which is a RICH text on bringing up children who have hearts for Christ, in lieu of behaviors that appease mommy and daddy. I actually have no complaints about this book that I can recall and I highly recommend it as an exceptional read on how parents are called by a loving Heavenly Father to cultivate heart conditions in their children such as submission to authority (ultimately God), holy selflessness, grace and mercy. It has spurred in me the desire to raise my daughters to be so in love and so engulfed in their Heavenly Father that they might live rich full lives in service and sacrifice to Him. The book does offer “advice”, although not a list of dos and do nots, but what has really drawn me to the book and caused me to adopt some of it’s principles is it’s biblical backing and the way it has caused me to explore biblical parenting and then through my study has really lined up with what I believe the Bible has called Zach and me to do.
My most recent non-fiction piece of Christian writing has been an incredibly life changing book called “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” I began this book in preparation for a conference that Zach and I attended this past weekend and it has been ruminating and growing inside me since the first night I sat down with it about 10 days ago. About a year ago I did a deep bible Study of the book of Ephesians and I really began to feel God begin a work in my heart, along with some other reading and our church’s sermon series’ since that study in Ephesians I have had a deep longing to be becoming a sanctified follower of a great God who longs for me to holy. Much more holy that I can fathom because He is in His very nature that Holy. This book has allowed me to explore even more deeply the skills I need to possess, the practices God calls me to, and the hard work that is the sanctification process. The book really looks at exposing the unhealthiness in our emotional lives that leads to spiritual immaturity. How can I have been saved for almost 20 years now and truly still be living like a child and some days like an infant? The conference then provided training in skills and life principles that I can use to cultivate first a deeper relationship with my God and then secondly practices to lead to emotionally healthy relational interactions with those around me. I am excited to begin practicing the Sabbath and the Daily Offices as ways to be more fully aware of who God is and as I become more in tune to Him to also learn the interpersonal skills and practices to make me an emotionally healthy person who loves God, Myself and Others well.
So to say that I am all together against self-help: This would be not true. To say that when I finish this book and Scazzero’s Wife’s Book “I Quit” that I would like a long break from them: This is more accurate. That I am looking forward to some deeply focused time in The Word and perhaps a good work of literature or 2: This is where you will find me.
Garden Updates- how it went, what didn’t go, and how God fills my joy to overflowing through the sod.
Maybe I missed the curse that was set for man when we fell (since I’m a woman I do fully grasp the curse set for women though) but I love to work the land. It’s probably because the success or failure of work really has no bearing on whether my family will eat, whether we will make enough money to get by, and because my plot is scarcely larger than my bathroom.🙂 I relished every evening in the spring, every nap time sowing and anticipating my harvest. I loved pulling weeds and organizing my vining plants so that I could get “the biggest bang for my buck” or in more gardening friendly descriptors the most fruit for my square footage of sod.
The general update on what I planted:
- 3 rows of corn- this was a failure because in attempt to harvest it all at the same time I ended up missing my harvesting window and it all dried up. I did however get $0.69 (the cost of the seed packet) fall decorations since I now was able to decorate my porch with the dried up shocks.
- 2 neck pumpkin plants- one of them got a disease or parasite early on in the summer and I quickly tore it out so it would not infect the other squash varieties I had in the garden and my remaining plant has produced a GIANT pumpkin and is now flowering again so maybe a few more to come.
- 1 pickling cucumber and 1 regular cucumber- both did well but ended up getting some type of disease or the heat got to them and they stopped producing a bit early. I was able to can multiple jars of pickles though and we enjoyed many a tomato/cucumber salad.
- 6 Tomatoes (multiple varieties)- these got OUT of control. Next year my goal is to master the pruning. I canned about 2 dozen jars of salsa though, froze about 5 gallons of tomatoes and we ate MORE than our share of tomato based dishes this summer.
- 1 Egg Plant- produced A LOT but we realized we don’t LOVE it and it doesn’t freeze well. I will skip this next year.
- 3 Green Peppers- I have frozen about 3 gallons of diced peppers and eaten about 3 dozen. I plan to put in a few more of these next year BUT further from my tomato plants because they definitely shadowed them too much of the day reducing my crop and the size of the crop I did get.
- Habaneros and Jalapenos- wow! That’s all I can say. Fortunately my grandmother took some to can and I froze as many as I could conceivable do and now I have another harvest and have NO idea what to do with them.
- Peas and String Beans- the heat was a terror on these and I do not plan to do them next year. They need too much space to provide any amount worth talking about.
- Strawberries- massive failure, because my raspberry patch has now overtaken the patch they don’t get enough sun light and then we have bug issues BUT my husband built me the MOST AWESOME solution to this (see future post). Next year I am increasing my patch from 12 plants to 50 so hopefully it will go better.
- Raspberries- Red, I have frozen about 7 quarts, Zach and Kenz ate about 3 right from the bushes and we had some pies and sauces so they were a huge hit. My black raspberry patch finally looks like more than some twigs so hopefully next year they will produce and if they do as good as my reds I’ll have a 3×30 foot row in no time.
There is so much I want to accomplish and do for my garden next year but on the goals are:
- Start a few of my plants from seed in February
- Start so annual flowers in February
- Create a more aesthetically pleasing fence (from something free or cheap).
- Put in a “mosaic raised bed garden” where my husband graciously took out our overgrown forsythia
- Build an urban potato pot
Although growing in the summer is tough, especially this year with all the bugs, I truly find great joy in working the land, seeing my work turn into something beautiful and then something my family can enjoy. Many a day, with great joy I would run out to my garden to fresh pick and then prepare a meal for my family. There is no greater joy than for a mother or wife to care for her child or husband and doing it with the produce I have organically cultivated and cared for has brought a pride of ownership and joy of heart.
Now on to the fall clean-up (which I also happen to enjoy).
Since I opened the blog I’ve been absent- how is that life gets away from you. But since then we’ve traveled a million different roads. And are currently residing at the crossroads of so-long baby days and hello toddler years. It’s amazing to see my daughter run the down the drive way and completely forget that just a year ago the only way she got anywhere was in my arms. She is now losing her baby features and her hair is long enough for ponytails and pigtails- both of which I might add she pulls out. She’s been to the beach at least 3 times, camping, to amusement parks, county fairs, an nearly 3 dozen different parks. She’s growing and blossoming and each day brings new skills, words, and challenges. She can do small chores- like take the dishes out of the dishwasher and hand them to me, put away dishes in the bottom cupboards, carry trash to the trashcan, put weeds in the proper receptacle and put away most of her toys. She was a “late talker” at least in comparison to the rest of her skills but she said her first “two syllable and non-alliterative word the other day: monkey. She’s been doing Pop-pop, pappy, mommy, daddy, etc
for a while and says lots of single syllable words: ball, cup, down, more, please, no, yes and the list goes on…. It’s hard to catch up on all I’ve missed but let the journey begin again. Because isn’t each day new.
Garden Updates- how it went, what didn’t go, and how God fills my joy to overflowing through the sod.
Canning- I did a bunch this summer and plan to can with my grandmother this week so stories to come.
Building Things- how to get what you want for free with scrap lumber, a power drill and a little ingenuity.
Shepherding a Child’s Heart- what I learned about God and ME while reading about the gift of raising my daughter.
Since the baby is napping and I’ve greatly enjoyed my perusals of others’ blogs I have decided to put together some thoughts here. While being a mom is my greatest joy in life it is also my greatest challenge. Since Christmas Eve 2010, when my daughter was born, I have been on a road of many journeys it feels like. Our family spent 14 days at the Ronald McDonald House while my daughter underwent open heart surgery, then underwent a complete overhaul of our meal planning, recreational enjoyments, travel arrangements and date nights when we found out my little one was allergic to soy and dairy (and later eggs). We have adapted through each change, persevered to through each challenge. Perhaps some of the things I read (and I do A LOT of it), some of the things I cook, some of the places we go or the things we do will inspire you. I hope that in sharing my heart and my family that perhaps on this journey together will both be more of who God meant us to be. Woman of the King.