|A collage of photos from my garden|
Since we moved to this home about 7 years ago, I have always had a vegetable garden. The first year was good. I had a lot of luck. But in subsequent years, my yeild has just kind of dwindled. We live in the foothills, and our soil is poor. "Poor" is kind of a generous word actually...basically, we grow rocks. So I started thinking that in order to have a good garden, I'm going to need to replace the soil And this led me to thinking about raised beds. We had re-done our patio last year and had about 600 bricks that we couldn't seem to get rid of. So one Saturday morning, I had the idea to just use some weed cloth, cover over the existing garden plot, and then create two raised beds by stacking the bricks we had. It took my husband and I about 6 hours to get all the bricks moved and stacked, but it worked. The weight of the bricks keeps them in place. After creating two new beds, we bought organic soil and filled the beds. It was such a cool thing to see the water drain into the soil rather than pooling at the surface. My new beds look great, but would the garden be a success?
I planted 5 types of tomatoes, some Armenian cucumber, lemon cucumber, yellow squash, peppers, peas, beans and artichokes. Now those of you who garden know that Gardening is all about FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, and BELIEVING. Think about it. We plant seeds with the hope that they will sprout and grow. If we didn't believe in that process, what would be the point of planting a garden at all, right? And then we have to nurture the garden, water it, weed it, help it along. See if there are pests along the way and if there are, find ways to get it healthy again.
There are a lot of lessons here. I can think of my soil delimma as life itself. Through the years, life can become less and less productive. We can even grow rocks...or have hurdles that we face. Sometimes, it just gets to the point where you want to start over. Whether it's something as major as starting a new career or changing a lifestyle, we may or may not have that choice. But one thing that is offered to us, simply, and profoundly, is the opportunity to receive Holy Communion. Receiving the body and blood of Christ after self-preparation, is a chance to receive a fresh start. It's a chance for us to stop and evaluate our past and what didn't work. And then to start anew and try again.
The next lesson is about support, friends, and being anchored in your faith. My peas sprouted and grew about 7 inches. It was time to stake them up because their long stalks need support. They have these curly little tendrils that reach out to grab on to whatever they can. I put a support system up and some of them grabbed right on. Some of the plants weren't close enough to reach the support, and so they grabbed on to other plants. If the plants they grabbed on to where supported, they grew up okay. If you had two unsupported plants holding on to one another, they toppled each bringing the other down with their weight. The support is our faith. If we have a firm foundation in our faith, when we grow weak, we can rely upon it to help keep us up. Sometimes we can even carry our friends with us when we are firm in our beliefs. If we follow the true principles of our faith, meaning love and compassion, of course we will be there to offer a hand up to our friends that may have lost their way. But if we try to do it on our own, we may be okay for a while, but eventually the weight of life itself becomes too much and without support, we find ourselves falling.
Just because it looks healthy, doesn't mean it is. I have some very pretty squash plants. They look green and they are flowering, but the flowers die and fall off. I have yet to get one squash. And then again, I have the saddest looking lemon cucumber plant. It's lost all it's leaves but one, yet it will flower and produce fruit....slowly, but it does it. This lesson? Don't judge. Life is not always as it appears on the outside. It's what's going on on the inside that counts.
I also planted some Bird Nest Gourds. These are ornamental plants that you can hollow out to create bird houses. I thought it might be fun, so when I was planting all the rest of the garden, I planted some of these seeds as well. I watered. Nothing. My other plants sprouted and grew tall. No gourd sprouts. I lost faith in them. I thought it must have been a bad batch of seeds or maybe the birds ate them. And then about 6 weeks later, they sprouted! Surprise! Another lesson. Don't give up, don't lose faith. (I need to call on this lesson for my weight loss plateau...I know).
The Armenian cucumbers....I was all excited when Home Depot had seeds for Armenian cucumbers. I gave them the prime location in the garden. Right in the center of the bed. About 10 days after planting, they popped up. And yes, they grew. But they have not yet fully taken off. it's been 4 months now...and they are still about 3 inches high. Some of them flower, but no fruit. I have no clue what's up with them. But the lesson here: We're all the same. Doesn't matter if it's an Armenian cucumber, or my sad little lemon cucumber. A cucumber is a cucumber and I love them both equally. : ) Oh, and I haven't given up on them (and I won't! I know someday soon they're going to thrive and grow and surprise me! Til then, I'm keeping the faith!)
Prune! No not the fruit. But the act itself. When your leaves get shriveled, and non-productive, it's good to prune away the old to allow for new growth. Don't worry about holding on to the old. It's good to check and see what's working and what's not and take action. I have a grape tomato plant that struggles sometimes...but it does much better when I've helped it along and trimmed the stems that are not producing. In this way, the energy can go into what IS working rather than working to keep the unproductive part alive.
And finally, water and fertilize!!! On a regular basis you have to fertilize to keep things growing. Prayer is the the Miracle-Gro of life and water is worship. Through regular prayer and worship, you acknowledge that you are not in total control...that God is greater. And you allow yourself to be humbled to understand that try as you might, not all things will be as YOU want. But will be as they are supposed to be. But by watering and fertilizing, through prayer and worship, we are able to enjoy the fruits of our lives and to give thanks for the amazing harvest of life that is beautiful, full and filled with love.
And I hope the next time you're out in your garden, you take a look around and see how you can find similarities between your garden and your life. I would love to hear about your observations. Til next week, this is Anush, wishing you a Pomegranate Day, filled with hope, and ripe with possibilities!