The Master Gardener’s Provision for the Croft
When God planted the garden of Eden, He provided something that is still very important to every garden today. He provided a source of water.
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden…Genesis 2:10
God provided a constant source of water for everything planted there in Eden. Water is crucial for all garden life.
- Water nourishes the cells of the plants in the garden. Plants are 80-90% water. They need water – quite literally – to hold them up. Without it, they would just lay on the soil, where they’d be susceptible to disease and rot and pests.
- Water helps plants regulate their temperature. They tend to remain too hot or too cold for too long without water.
- Water carries nutrients from the soil to the plants. All those microorganisms and elemental nutrients that are needed to grow the plant are carried to it by the water coursing through the soil.
- Water can remove contaminants and pests. Blasting detrimental bugs off a garden plant is one of the best ways to get rid of them.
- Water is necessary for photosynthesis. Plants use water, combined with the light from the sun to create the energy they need to grow and reproduce.
Scripture tells us that Water is crucial for all spiritual life, too.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:Isaiah 55:10-11
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
The Word of God is our source of spiritual Water:
- God’s Word nourishes us. It helps us remain upright in character and morality.
- Reading our Bibles keeps us from being too hot – critical of others – and too cold – uncaring about others.
- Studying the Scriptures brings us instruction, guidance, good doctrine and direction – the “nutrients” that will help us to grow as Christians.
- The Word of the Lord washes out harmful thoughts, sinful desires and selfish tendencies that will harm us and keep us from becoming the Christian God wants us to be.
- We must have the Words of the Bible flowing through our hearts and minds to grow as a Christ-follower and lead others to Him.
The gardening experts tell us the best time to water the garden is in the morning, before the heat of the day exhausts the plants and before the pests wake up to do their damage in the croft.
It’s a good practice to get the Word of God washing through your heart every morning. Before the day begins to rush forward, before the demands of others begin to pluck on our nerves – this is when we should be soaking our souls in His Bible, gaining the spiritual nutrients we need for the day ahead.
How well are you watering the Garden of your Heart?
If you’re feeling a bit weak or parched, attacked or stagnant, get your feet wet in the Water of His Word today.
Crofting for Him,
Traits of the Master Gardener
I love to think of God planting that first garden in Eden. Can’t you just imagine Him bending down, kneeling in the dirt, touching each little seedling as He planted it, talking to it, speaking life to it as He put it into the soil.
When I imagine this scenario, I never see God’s face in my mind’s eye, but I do see His legs and torso. He’s always wearing denim overalls in my imagination! It amuses me that I see the Lord God this way, but only when I think of Him in the Garden.
I can imagine Him humming a little tune as He walked through the rows, touching a leaf here and there, noticing a tiny little pepper popping up or encouraging a butterfly in its work of moving pollen from flower to flower.
It astounds me that the Lord didn’t just speak Eden into existence. He could have. That’s how He accomplished much of Creation during those 6 days. I think it would have been “easier”. We all know, either from experience or from hearing others talk, how much work it is to plant a garden!
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.Genesis 2:8-9, KJV
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
But verse 8 says “the LORD God planted a garden…” Amazing, right? He actually planned and planted each tiny seedling, plant, tree, vegetable and fruit in that garden. Can you imagine how beautiful it must have been?
When we think of God as a Gardener, it brings to mind those strengths we commonly attribute to gardeners, farmers and growers. A gardener has a plan. He or she sows seeds in specific places for maximum growth. They wait patiently for plants to sprout, grow and produce. Gardeners are nurturers. They pay close attention to each little plant making sure it has everything it needs to grow well. They prune, water, fertilize and support.
It’s easy to see the parallels of how the Lord takes care of us.
- He has a plan for our lives.
- He puts us in the places that will grow us best.
- He watches over us, sometimes protecting us from harm, but sometimes allowing the sun or rain to beat down harshly, knowing we need the storm to make us grow strong.
- God is patient with us.
- He nourishes us with His blessings.
- He rejoices over us.
- He prunes us of the things that will harm us.
- He provides the water of the His Word for our nourishment.
How is the Lord, our Master Gardener, working in your life today?
Spend time listing and thanking Him for His goodness to you. You’ll be amazed how it encourages your heart to recognize how much He cares for you.
Introducing Obtaining Mercy Croft
After a year of planting, digging, watering and pruning, Doug and I have decided that gardening is just one big experiment. And since it seems that we really enjoy the scientific method, with all it’s trials, successes and errors, we thought we’d name this laboratory of ours.
Introducing Obtaining Mercy Croft!
CROFT: a fenced piece of land used for small-scale food production, usually near a house
We’ve planted, without exaggeration, over 125 different fruits and vegetables since last spring. Many of them didn’t do well, some did better than we expected. Some we planted in our sandy backyard and others we potted up into containers, buckets and half-barrels.
We’ve discovered things we don’t like to eat and some lovely things we were surprised that we liked.
And we’ve been amazed at all the beauty to be seen in the garden.
The most astonishing thing, I think, that we’ve learned in the garden is that the garden teaches us so many spiritual truths. We’re constantly learning something about soil or seeds or pruning or watering that exactly mirrors a truth that can be found in Scripture.
And that is going to be our new focus here on the blog.
Along with more regular updates on Isaac and on the garden, you will see more posts of a devotional nature, sharing some tidbit of truth that we’ve gleaned from the Croft.
And…you won’t just be hearing from me, as you have for so many years now, but you’ll also be hearing from Doug.
I know you will enjoy the truths that he has to share!
So…a few changes. Nothing drastic. But we’re excited about our new focus!
We hope you’ll join us as we study our Master Gardener and the things He teaches us here at Obtaining Mercy Croft.
Doug and Alesha
Florida Freeze 2022 Aftermath
We fared well with this past week’s cold weather. Some things did great, some did poorly and some we’ll just have to wait and see how they do. I’ll give you the rundown.
We actually had Hard Freeze Warnings for 2 nights in a row – January 29th and 30th. We hit 29* (or lower) the first night and were just at 32* the second night.
We grouped and covered and lighted various plants in the garden. My husband was very creative with his groupings.
He used sheets, tarps, buckets, cardboard boxes, milk jugs, buckets of boiling water – anything that would protect and hold in a little heat. It looked pretty when we turned the lights on at night.
Without fail, anything that was covered and had a string of lights under the cover survived. This included the following:
- Mango tree – in-ground
- Tomatoes – several varieties – in buckets
- Strawberries – in pots
- Longan tree – in pot
- Cranberry hibiscus – in pot
- Peppers – several varieties – in buckets
- Oregano – in buckets
- Carrots in buckets
The things that were covered with tarp also survived, even without lights. But to be fair – we also had several of these plants in buckets, uncovered and unprotected and they are ALL just fine. Who knew chickpeas were so hardy?!!
Some things under the 5-gallon buckets did well, especially the ones that were near the house. However, those in the farthest bed with no wind protection did not survive. These 2 tomato plants are the only things we know for sure that we lost. The peppers, however, look great.
Two of our tropical trees we wrapped with ground cover cloth around their roots and stems. We didn’t cover their tops. The banana looks completely dead and the chaya looks fine – even has its little blossoms still intact. The leaves look a bit stressed, but will probably recover just fine. Our other bananas are under the canopy of our oak tree. We mulched them heavily with leaves and they look well. We will leave this little banana tree alone and see if he can recover.
Things under cardboard boxes and plastic milk jugs were a mixed bag. The chicory did great, but the cassava didn’t fare well. Only 1 of the 3 has remaining green leaves.
Three other tropical were wrapped well, one even had boiling water added under its cover, but they are looking pretty sad. The Spanish Hog Plum will surprise me if it comes back, but I think the Jamaican Cherry juuuuuust might make it. (It’s behind the blue wagon, but you can see it’s leaves are very withered and drooping.) The Longevity Spinach is going to have to live up to its name to recover. It just looks like a pile of mushy brown leaves.
All things considered, I am super-duper pleased with our survival rate. The strings of lights definitely seem to be the secret, so we’ll probably invest in a few more of things, along with a few more extension cords.
I’m also amazed at the hardiness of many of the things we didn’t protect at all. They all survived. The list is impressive:
- Garlic – in ground
- Onions – in ground and in buckets
- Sweet potatoes – in ground
- Collards – in ground
- Brussels sprout – in ground
- Blueberries – Florida varieties – in pots
- Carrots – in ground and in buckets
- Turnips – in ground
- Mulberry tree – in bucket
- Fig tree – in pot
- Loquat tree – in pot
And the surprise survivor is this:
Tiny baby lettuces that we’d planted on January 21st! They had just begun to pop up on the 27th. These hardy little babies weren’t even covered. Just took on the freeze like champs! Can’t wait to see how they do as they get bigger.
You know – God’s creation never ceases to astound me! There is such an overwhelming variety of plants and trees, veggies and fruits, but they all seem to obey His laws. Each has its own hardiness level and it will respond exactly how God intended it to. It’s a constant reminder to me to grow where God planted me, as I’m here for a purpose by His own design.
The Master Gardener may allow the harsh winter winds to blow us about, but He also gives us the Light of His Word and the Covering of His blood to protect us.
May you grow well, wherever He has you planted.
He Hears What We Can’t Say
Genesis 2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
Genesis 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
GROANING, Uttering a low mournful sound.
GROANING, The act of groaning; lamentation; complaint; a deep sound uttered in pain or sorrow.
In the Old Testament, when the children of Israel groaned because of the hardships that their disobedience had caused, God heard the sound of their groanings, and He remembered His promises to them, and made a way of deliverance.
In the New Testament, because we have the indwelling of the believer by the Holy Spirit, God the Father takes it even further: when the pain is too deep and the grief is too overwhelming to have breath to make a sound, God HEARS our cry. His Holy Spirit calls out to God the Father and communicates what our prayer should be.
Romans 8:27 says “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.“
On days when we can’t find the words to tell God how much we hurt, how broken our heart is, how overwhelmed we are, how deeply we are wounded, and we groan out our prayers to Him – He remembers! And when there are days that the pain is so sharp and so deep, that we can’t even summon the breath to groan – amazingly – He hears!
Do not despair, my sweet friend. You are heard by the Almighty God. He knows your voice. He sees your pain. He remembers His promises. He will use this present suffering to work His glory in your life.
(For further study and edification, I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Romans 8.)
Our Garden’s First Freeze and How We’re Handling It
You guys know I’m a newbie gardener, so this weekend will be the first time we’ve dealt with a freeze in our garden.
Here’s a list of some pointers that have been posted on the various groups I’m part of, as well as on the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension article on Cold Protection.
I thought I’d share for those who don’t have time to do the research.
My next step was to list everything in the garden that we didn’t want to lose or that was close to harvest. I made a coded list of what we planned to do with each one.
Some things are tropical. Ideally, they would be dormant right now. But, of course, it’s Florida, so things get weird. We had temps in the 80s just a couple of weeks ago so the plants that had been dormant started to bud, flower and grow. So nothing is dormant as it should be. We’ll do our best to protect each one in the best way.
Tropicals that are too big to be moved or that are in the ground will be mulched with yard clippings and leaves. Our neighbor just blessed us with 9 bags of oak leaves that will do a nice job for that. We also can use the straw that we use for mulching our garden beds.
Some of the tropicals will also be covered with sheets and we’ll add a string of Christmas lights underneath to add to the ground’s radiant heat.
We’ll be grouping our strawberries and blueberries together and placing a bucket of hot water underneath the covering as well. We’ll try to put that out as late as possible, and will need to replace it each night that we have the coverings in place.
We have several 5-gallon buckets with peppers, tomatoes, chick peas and Cape gooseberries. We’ll cluster these with a sheet and lights too. A couple we will bring in, especially if we only have one of those – namely, the Cape gooseberry and the Katuk.
Some of the smaller plants that are in the garden beds will get a tarp installed over a frame, as well as a little extra mulch around their stems. Finding a frame is easy enough – we have several crates we’ll use and some lawn chairs that can be turned upside down over the plants that will do the job, too. We also have a few plastic jugs that we’ll cut the bottoms out of and install on top of fragile plants.
The onions, garlic and sweet potatoes are all underground, and we’re hoping that the temps in our area won’t be cold long enough to affect them.
We also made of list of those plants that need to be harvested if at all possible:
There won’t be a lot of this stuff ready, especially after the frost on Sunday night, but we’ll check on each of them any way.
So…this is our plan. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. If you’re an experienced Florida farmer and see a flaw in my plan, please let me know! We’d like to do our best to salvage what is still growing and to save those tropicals and natives that we’ve spent money on this past year.
I’ll do my best to do a timely follow up post.
Until then, stay warm – wherever you are!