Pick the Fruit

I was talking to Samuel about the garden. He didn’t want me to pick the peppers because he wants the plant to keep growing. I explained to him that picking the peppers makes more grow. If we don’t pick them, the plant will stop producing, then die.

We talked about how the same is true in our spiritual lives. If we don’t share blessing, gifts and spiritual joy with others, our joy will eventually die; but the more we share, the more those things will grow.

This is hard for me as a mama of a toddler and a newborn. I am so overwhelmed, how do I share? Where do I find the time? The energy? The answer is simple – start at home. Share smiles, laughter and joy with my kids. Tell them and my husband what God is teaching me and the prayers He is answering.

Of course, if God gives me other opportunities to share, I should take them, but just like our little family garden was planted primarily to produce food for our little family; so, at this time in my life, my spiritual fruit may mostly provide spiritual nourishment for our family. And that is just what the Gardener intended for now.

How do you share your spiritual fruit at home?

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More Sprouts

As of yesterday, March 6, all but two of the tomatoes have sprouted and are going strong. The peppers are still slow with only 4 actual sprouts and a couple trying to peak through. That’s no surprise as they are slow to germinate. They also require higher temperatures.

I would still love to have the peppers covered by the dome in an effort to increase the heat, but the tomato sprouts are too tall. I compromised by using clothespins to prop up the tomato side of the dome, but not the pepper side. I’m not sure it’s actually doing any good, but it makes me feel better. 🙂

Samuel and I also started two more mini greenhouses with 12 pellets each. They are also on a heating mat. We planted 4 eggplants and 20 basil pellets. I know, that’s a LOT of basil. We mostly grow basil to make our own pesto. We like to make lots of extra to share with friends and to freeze so we can have it all winter too – yum!

Here is the rundown of the seeds we planted:

Eggplant – 4 heirloom Rosa Bianca organic from Seeds of Change. I’m not sure if these were packed for the 2011 or 2012 growing season.

Basil – 20 Heirloom Genovese Sweet Basil from Sustainable Seed Company, packed for the 2012 growing season.

I really know nothing about how long seeds last, so feel free to educate me on the topic. 🙂

I also really need to get soil samples from all our beds so we can add the proper amendments, I just haven’t felt up to it and things have been so crazy around here that it’s not on the top of my list when I have people around to help me. Hopefully I can get it done by the end of next week.

Let the 2013 Garden Begin!

Hooray! Today Samuel and I planted our first seeds. I decided I am going to try to keep up with the things I do this year so I can learn from my triumphs and failures.

We planted 18 heirloom Arkansas Traveler tomatoes from Seeds of Change and 18 heirloom Jimmy Nardello Sweet Peppers from Sustainable Seed Company.

This year I am moving back to Jiffy pellets and mini greenhouses for germination. When I use pots and start in the big greenhouse this early, I end up wasting a lot of money on soil and seeds due to a low germination rate. For the peppers and tomatoes I’m using a tomato greenhouse with 36 large plugs. Samuel and I put 2-3 seeds in each plug (some may have more with tiny toddler hands helping out). I have the tray sitting in a windowsill on a heating mat.

I think I put in a little too much water, but the tray is nice and steamy and I’ll keep a closer eye on the moisture level.

I hope to see some little sprouts in the next week or two. I especially can’t wait to see what Samuel thinks!

Mulch in My Heart

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When I work with Samuel, I like to explain to him what I’m doing and why. A project we have been working on lately is adding mulch between the raised beds in the garden. This is a long process as my goal is to finish just a little bit here and there.

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We carefully lay down newspaper where we are going to put our mulch. This acts as an extra barrier against weeds fighting to poke through.

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Then we shovel the mulch into the wheelbarrow. Sometimes Samuel helps with his little shovel, and sometimes he just watches. Either way, we ALWAYS count the shovel fulls of mulch. 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . I usually start over once we get to 10, and every once in a while, Samuel will surprise me and count right along.

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Once the wheelbarrow is loaded up, I pop Samuel in for a ride. This is his favorite part. We take the mulch over to the newspaper and dump it out. Then Samuel helps me spread the mulch out, nice and thick.

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I was explaining to Samuel that we put the mulch where we don’t want weeds to grow. I always tell him it’s important to pull weeds so our plants can grow nice and strong. Then, the water and nutrients they need aren’t being taken away by bad plants. I explain to him that we put mulch down to make it even harder for weeds to grow. A few will probably still get through, but there won’t be nearly as many.

That made me immediately think of mulching our hearts. I had always heard about not letting weeds (or sin), grow in our hearts, and making sure to pull them outat the root whenever we saw them creeping in. I had never thought about “mulching” our hearts though. By asking Jesus to live in our hearts, spending time with Him daily and seeking His truth in His Word, we are putting mulch in our hearts. We are making it hard for the weeds to grow.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
~Proverbs 4:23-27~

Why not take time to mulch your heart’s garden today?

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Organic Garden 2012 – Step One: Seeds!

I was so excited when I went to the mailbox this morning and found a nice, fluffy envelope full of seeds!  I can’t wait to start my indoor plantings, but I know it’s far too early.  I get so excited when I think about this growing season because I am taking things more seriously than ever before.  I am going to try really hard to keep a “farmer’s journal” so that I can learn from mistakes I make and really know what’s going on in my garden.

The first step for me was planning what I would grow and then ordering the seeds.  I used a fantastic online tool called growveg to plan my garden (they even have a 30 day trial for free). I really like it for the crop rotation features.  I used to keep track of everything on paper, but I didn’t like having to redo everything when I made one small change, nor did I like the fact that paper is easy to lose. 😦  What I really like about the growveg planner though is that I can keep track of succession planting, giving me a great fall and winter harvest.

Once I planned my garden, it was time to order seeds. Here I was faced with a challenge – do I want organic seeds, heirloom seeds or both? In a nutshell, organic seeds are grown organically by a USDA certified farm. Heirloom seeds are open pollenated, hence you can save your own seed.  Both of these things are very important to me, but finding seed that fits both criteria with varieties that grow well in my region can result in a lot of time, money and frustration.

Historically, I ordered all my seeds from Seeds of Change.  All of their seeds are organic, and they carry some heirloom seeds as well. This is the first year heirloom seeds have really mattered to me, and I was sad to see that their heirloom selection seemed to be less than ever. As I searched for other companies that had the heirloom seeds I wanted, Sustainable Seed Company came up over and over again. All of their seeds are heirloom, but I found the opposite problem from Seeds of Change in that their organic selection was slim. As I poked around the website, I became more impressed with the seed they sell.  While not all of their seed is certified organic, it is all organically and sustainably produced. (It can take years for some places to gain USDA Organic status due to the nature of organic farming.) This was good enough for me. I made my order and my seeds are here.

A Plethora of Yumminess, One Plant at a Time

I don’t know if I have shared much about my long-term plan for our home garden. Even though we have about a quarter acre, it’s pretty extensive including fruit trees (apple, pear, maybe plum and dwarf, potted citrus trees for our deck), a greenhouse, raised beds (3 3×10 an 3 4×10), berry bushes (blueberry, raspberry and black raspberry) and a strawberry patch. Even with all of this, there will be plenty of yard left for Samuel to play. 🙂

The hard part is the upfront cost of everything. Plants (trees and bushes) can get expensive, raised beds can get expensive, soil amendments can get expensive. So what’s a girl to do? A little at a time, that’s what.

This past summer we prepped two raises beds and we hope to have two more ready for spring planting. I am super excited about the greenhouse my husband got me for Christmas. It is small, and not top quality, but it’s a perfect starter while I learn more about greenhouse gardening. It’s also easy to move which is good for finding the best spot. I can’t wait to start seeds in it!

The other exciting thing is my blueberry bushes! 🙂 I have been saving up and was finally able to purchase two high bush plants (and just in time to get them in the ground).

What are your big gardening plans? What small steps can you start with now to reach your future goals?

What Kind of Soil Do You Have

I have read books on testing soil, soil composition and soil PH.  I have a lot of trouble retaining what I read on this topic for some reason – what helps with which conditions and when to add what to your soil.  While this is not exhaustive, I just found a great post (in a great series by the way) at nogmoseedbank’s website that is a great place to start when it comes to preparing your soil for spring planting.  Check it out here.