With the children’s help I was able to map out the garden this year. We measured three large plots, pounded stakes into the ground, and roped off each section with garden twine. The joy of laying straight rows in newly tilled soil was sharply contrasted with last year’s haphazard “throw them tomaters anywhere you can” kind of garden – a feeble attempt on my husband’s part to start a garden after my surgery last May. I can sympathize with senior citizens or anyone for that matter who has to give up gardening because of physical limitations. Still struggling with some of my own, I will never take the ability to plant a garden for granted again.
My husband often reminds us that tending a garden is one of the first jobs that God gave man. Maybe that’s why I feel His presence there so strongly, either in the morning before the heat and humidity become unbearable or in the cool of the evening, when the large elms to the north cast long shadows across the oven baked earth. God, the Master Gardner, teaches us many lessons about life, ourselves, and our relationship with Him in the fertile soil of a garden.
My husband is a passionate gardener. To say that gardening brings him delight is a gross understatement. The man cannot stand to see any plant perish. It’s painful for him to thin out a row of broadcasted seedlings, and he has been known to let tomatoes re-seeded from last year’s crop, compete for space with this year’s cabbages.Years ago, while seeking direction for a new career, Robert took an aptitude test to assess his giftings. The categories he scored highest in were: teacher, manager, and plants (that’s how it was stated on his evaluation form – simply “plants”). They weren’t telling us anything we didn’t know. Robert was definitely born with a green thumb (and trowel in hand).
A few years ago he built a four-sided structure with a pitched roof and appropriately named it “Cucumber Haus.” The walls are constructed of nylon netting, giving the delicate tendrils a place to anchor as they climb skyward. The searching vines, now loaded with bright yellow blossoms are slowly inching their way up the sides. Just a month ago, these same plants looked as though they would die under the sun’s hot rays, but as the roots took hold, dark green leaves seemed to multiply overnight. Isn’t that the miracle of gardening? We plant and water, but the Lord brings the increase.
Faithful to wield a hoe and rake, my husband diligently fights the never ending war on encroaching weeds. But the best part of gardening – the thing that brings him the greatest satisfaction is seeing the sweat of his labor bear fruit. By the end of August he is finally done pushing, pulling, pinching, and pampering. Generous to a fault, he leaves the harvesting to me.
Elizabeth and Anna wanted their own plots again this year, and although Robert oversees the whole garden, he asked for a bit of earth to call his own. I laughed at the request that seemed to come from the little boy within. “Robert,” I gently reminded him, “the whole garden is yours.” He just loves raising home grown tomatoes – 50 in all this year. I’m afraid we’ll be overloaded with produce, but I look forward to canning quart upon quart of delicious tomato-apple chutney, and making harvest baskets to give away to family and friends.
Besides three large plots, we have other beds filled with acorn squash, eggplant, zucchini, green and purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, green and yellow peppers, pole beans, bush beans, sweet peas, and corn. Elizabeth planted beats, carrots, tomatoes and green onions in her plot, and Robert sowed Swiss chard at the end of his.
We also have a kitchen garden with globe basil, spicy basil, flat parsley, rosemary, dill, wooly thyme, lemon thyme, lavender, lettuce, and radishes mingled among the perennial flowers surrounding our house.
We’ve had the most beautiful weather for growing a garden this year. For several years now we’ve experienced drought conditions in June, but this year the garden has been watered almost daily by the Lord. It’s just one of those rare years, the kind that makes you want to grow a garden – every year and for a lifetime!