Last Week was Busy in the Croft

Just a few pictures from this week:

We’ll be harvesting the leaves and roots of this plant to be dried for later use.

Grainmaster grain mill

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!

Herbs drying: chicory leaves, sage, oregano and strawberry leaves
Leaves after drying

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.

Bread

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…

Ecclesiastes 9:10

No worries. We’re not discouraged. We’ll just keep trying until we get it right.

Alesha Kay

Information Gathering

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.

Jicama

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.

Chicory on a trellis

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?

[9] Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
[10] But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

Psalm 41:9-10

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?

Luke 14:28

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.

Proverbs 22:7

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.

Finding out everything I need to know,

Alesha Kay

Life and Death in the Garden

Hebrews 11:13-16

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.

Cuccuzi Edible Gourd

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.

Purple Hull Peas and Moon and Stars Melons

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.

Echinacea blooms

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.

Painted Mountain Corn in a mulch of oak leaves

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.

Hebrews 11:13-16

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.

Alive in the Croft,

Alesha Kay