I love to examine and investigate plants that climb. We are currently growing rattlesnake beans. They have inched their way to around 7 or 8 feet high on the cattle panel. It is so cool how they twist and grasp each rung as they climb.
The vine is the most important part of the plant. No beans would grow, mature or even be able to reproduce without the vine.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Jesus is our Vine.
He controls how and where we grow. Without Him, we cannot do anything – just like we are not able to have rattlesnake beans without the vine. Our only job is to abide in the Vine (our only source of water and nutrition).
I know when I examine my own life and choices, I have the habit of trying to do things on my own and attribute it to God. These things may be working, serving God, fixing problems.
The thing is when I get to the end and it’s not where it needs to be, my tendency is to blame the Lord.
The harsh reality is that God doesn’t need my input. I have to remind myself, what is my job? My job is to abide in Him. That’s it, and follow in obedience.
As a beginner gardener, I have a new appreciation for rain.
In the past I haven’t always appreciated the rain. It may have a bit bothersome, or an inconvenience to my present plans. But since starting a garden, the rain is beautiful; a refreshing gift from the bounty of God; an encouragement that helps to keep me going through this Florida heat.
Rain has become a hopeful and blessed event. It’s arrival raises thankfulness in my heart. I know that rain and my watering are a blessing to the garden. There is no life or growth without water.
The Master Gardener know the importance of His Word (compared many times in Scripture to water).
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
A few definitions as we move along. The hart is an adult male deer. To pant is to long for, or to passionately desire. A brook is a small natural stream of water, or a current flowing from a spring or fountain.
That deer in his movements through the forest or countryside is thirsty and passionately desires the water brooks. God through the psalmist writes “so panteth my soul after thee, O God”
Do I pant after God? What do I pant after? What do I passionately desire?
Is it the brook? That small, consistent, daily water source that flows from that spring.
Unfortunately, I know that I pant after other things too many times. I pant after connections, notoriety, comfort, maybe even rest. These things are not a substitute for the water brook of God’s Word.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
God wants us to seek Him first, today and everyday. Jesus is our Answer to today’s question. He is our Peace, our Joy, our Life.
When I started gardening I thought I understood the importance of water for healthy plants. The truth is I think I severely underestimated how much water plants really need.
Planting seeds is always exciting. When the plants first push through the ground and start growing, that is an energizing and exhilarating thing to be part of! That excitement fuels my care for the seedlings, because watering at this stage seems to bring changes to the plants every day.
But soon, the plants reach a stage where they begin to slow down their growth. They are preparing to produce flowers and fruit. This is where my challenge begins.
The plants seem healthy and they are doing well. So it’s easy to assume they have all the water they need, and I lose the urgency to water well, because I see no immediate results. Without that necessary water the plants become weak and more susceptible to pests and disease.
The Master Gardener knows our fragility and our need for spiritual water. We are, after all, sinful by our very nature, and by our choice. Jesus told the woman at the well that He could give her a well that springs with everlasting life.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Our sin separates us from God. And when we look within ourselves, we feel an emptiness and void that we cannot fill on our own. That emptiness can only be satisfied by Jesus Christ. We receive His everlasting life when we cry out to God, and ask Him to forgive our sin and become our Saviour.
We must take an honest look at our sinfulness and realize that we are not able to make ourselves good enough. We must look to Jesus, the one Who died for our sin, shed His blood, and rose from the dead.
We must choose for ourselves. We must step out by faith alone and call on Jesus personally. Then we can have that well that springs up to everlasting life.
We’ll be harvesting the leaves and roots of this plant to be dried for later use.
We hope to use this attachment to our Champion juicer to grind our dent corn when it’s dried and ready for harvesting.
None of the things we canned were grown in our garden. The okra was given to us by a friend. The blueberries were frozen. And the potatoes were given out for free at a truck stop just down from our house. We were sent home with 144 pounds of potatoes! We still have MANY quarts to go!
We’re drying some of these for use later as spices and some as a blend of healthy herbs that can be added to dishes to increase the health benefits.
Jicama is a plant that grows a tuber underground that is a very tasty starch. The good thing about this starch is that it doesn’t spike blood sugar, so it’s pretty healthy. The thing you must remember though, is that the leaves, stems and flowers of the plant are poisonous.
That’s it, I think. We did try a loaf of bread in our bread maker. My mother-in-law sent it early for our July anniversary. It looks pretty, but didn’t taste the greatest. We’re still working on our bread recipe to find something we like.
We made a few goofs with our canning too. It seems like preserving our garden harvest is much like the gardening itself – lots of trial and error.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…
No worries. We’re not discouraged. We’ll just keep trying until we get it right.
We started gardening, in earnest, in February of 2021. Because we’ve been doing this just a little over a year, now, we are still learning so many things.
We learning that radishes aren’t a food we enjoy, ginger grows really well in our soil mixture, oregano is happy, happy when crowd-grown in a 5-gallon bucket, and we love fresh black eyed peas.
We also find ourselves researching different plants, trees and vegetables that we’ve never heard of until this last year: chayote, cassava, jicama, strawberry tree, chaya, cucuzzi gourd, and Spanish hog plum.
This month, I’ve looked up “how to harvest echinacea”, “how to clean jars for canning”, “190* Celsius to Fahrenheit”, “how to can potatoes” and “how does chicory grow”, just to name a few.
It’s so great to have search engines and web sites to find the information that we need on any given subject. It’s fast and easy to find almost anything on the interwebz these days.
You know, life has a lot of unknowns, too. Every day of our life, we experience situations, emotions and troubles that we’ve never dealt with before.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a search engine to find all the answers we need for every question in life?!
We do have that Source of answers! It’s the Bible!
But you have to know that it works a little differently than Google.
You can’t just run to the index to figure out how to deal with a back-stabbing friend. And the word “vaping” doesn’t appear in the King James Bible. And where do we go to read instructions on budgeting or construction?
 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.  But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
Interestingly enough, the Bible does speak to these subjects. But sometimes it’s hard to nail down the exact verse that you need.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
I Corinthians 6:12
That’s why it’s so important to just read the Word. Every day, multiple times a day, spend time just soaking up the words that God left here for us.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
And don’t just read. Pray! Ask the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead you to the right verses and open your eyes to the answers that the Lord has for you.
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
And lastly, don’t give up! Keep reading. Keep studying. Keep digging into the Words of God, looking for your answers.
The Bible isn’t a search engine, as we think of it today. But it does have the answer to every question we have in this life.
When you don’t know, read until the Lord gives you the answer.
Right now, our entire croft is a sea of green. Everything is growing and the garden is full of life and beauty. This is the prime time for growth here in Florida, when the rainy season begins and all the plants start to do really well.
However, if you know how to read the subtle signs, you’ll also see that the heat is beginning to get the best of some of the plants, they are getting brown leaf-edges and their leaves are curling in response to the near-100* temperatures that they’re enduring. In the deep South, death often comes right on the heels of life in the croft.
We see this process even in the early spring as we start sowing seeds. We drop each little seed down into the soil and wait for it to die. It literally cracks wide open in death as life emerges from the seed pod.
Life to Death to Life to Death.
This is the cycle of the garden croft. It is unavoidable.
As I’ve watched this cycle run its course in our organic garden these last several months, I’ve noticed something.
The closer a plant is to dying, the harder it works. It puts out more fruit. It goes to seed. It does everything it can to duplicate itself before its season of growing is finished.
Maybe you feel like your season of blooming is over. You’re weary of the passing of the seasons and you feel it’s time for other plants to take over and flourish in your area.
If that’s the case, I encourage you to do everything you can to duplicate yourself. Witness. Share the Word. Give your testimony. Talk about God’s work in your life. Invite people to church with you. Help someone who is struggling to see how God met your need. Write down your memoirs. Tell your friends your story of how God rescued you from sin.
Even an aging plant has a purpose in the garden. It’s how the seeds are created for the new life that is to come.
And, come to think of it, even in death, a plant can continue to benefit the garden. Most crofters today use dead plant material in their compost bins, or they just chop and drop the dying plant material right there in the bed to continue to nurture the soil as it decomposes.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Our entire Christian life – from second birth to death – has a purpose larger than ourselves. The beauty and life that we bring, the fruit we bear, the seeds we sow, the testimony of our life for Christ continues long after we are gone.
The souls we led to Christ go on to bring other people to Him. The stories of our testimony encourage and comfort others.
Your life in the garden is vital. Make sure yours tells the story of your great Saviour.
Dirt is an important subject for the crofter. While most seeds can sprout with just water and light as a catalyst, it takes more than that to encourage good growth for the plant and its roots.
A plant needs to be in good dirt. Or better said, in good soil. There’s actually a great deal of controversy today over the use of the terms “dirt” and “soil”. One is deemed to be “dead” and the other “living.”
So, what makes good “soil”?
Basically, it’s the individual components that make up a good soil.
The term “organic” is used for the part of soil that comes from living things. Those living things are bacteria (single-celled microbes), fungi (spore-producing organisms), protozoa (single-celled animals) and nematodes (worms).
The three main nutrients in soil are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Together they make up the trio known as NPK. These are the numbers that you see on bags of fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Those numbers tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are in that fertilizer. And always in that order, just so you know. 😉
But there are so many other nutrients in good soil, as well. Just in much smaller ratios. These include iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron and molybdenum.
Air and water are equally important to soil. Soil must be soft enough that the organisms living in it can move around freely. When they do that, they break up the soil, allowing air and water to move through it.
In the Gospels we find Jesus using a parable about a sower (gardener). He talks about what happens when the seed lands in good soil.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
I think we can break down the good soil of a heart just like the good soil in a garden:
We must have the “organic” life in our heart, too; and that comes from salvation. That moment when we yield our heart to Jesus and accept His payment for our sins. That is when we come alive!
Then we must have the teaching of Scripture in order to grow well. The doctrines and stories of the Bible give us all the “nutrients” our heart and mind need in order to live well.
We rely on the “air” of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to guide us day by day. In all area of our lives, He is intertwined, and He breathes into us the answers that we need for everyday living.
Lastly, we must have the daily washing of the Water of the Word (the Bible) in order to grow as a Christian. Without it, our souls will shrivel up in anger, bitterness, selfishness, greed and lust. Only by daily cleansing can we grow to be like Christ.
Our amazing Master Gardener set all of these things into play when He planted that first garden in Eden. He knew that man would sin, and that not only would the soil be cursed, but also that OUR SOULS would die.
So He provided the perfect combination of forgiveness and salvation by His death, burial and resurrection.
Now, I’m wondering, have you had that spark of LIFE in your soul? If not, why not? Life can only be lived well when we are ALIVE in Christ!
If you have any questions about how to find that new life in Christ, just let me know. I’d be happy to help.