Zucchini, Zucchini, as Far as the Eye Can See!

If you took any of my spring and late spring advice and planted a Zucchini plant you have so much you’re wondering what to do with it. My first and foremost advice is to share. Many people love fresh anything from a garden. Find the old couple on the block that just can’t get out there to garden or the single mom that just doesn’t have time. Maybe a big family that could use any break from the grocery bill. This is an awesome opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Someone once told me that Jesus loves a happy giver…. I believe that. The more I give away the more seems to grow! If you still have lots left over….which you will…. Try some of these tips.

Some of the best recipes can be found online, but here is what I do in addition to that….. I put it in everything that has a sauce. For example, if I’m making spaghetti, I’ll dice it or shred it and put it in the sauce. I will put it in everything from burritos to soups. The smaller you dice or shred it the more it will cook down and less anyone will notice it is there. If you’re like me you don’t mind the very mild taste anyway so go big. This is a great way to hide veggies in your favorite recipes for anyone in the family that just says “Ugh” to veggies.

What to do with those HUGE zucchinis! Try looking for stuffed zucchini recipes online but if that’s not to your taste or you’ve had enough of that; shred it. After you shred it, measure out the amount needed for your favorite zucchini bread recipe and then freeze it. Once you freeze zucchini it becomes very easy to cook down and makes a wonder soup base. If you are a vegetable stock kind of person, pull your scraps (carrot tops, beet tops, etc) together with your shredded zucchini and boil it till there isn’t much left and run it through cheesecloth then bag it and freeze it or pressure preserve it.

Yellow summer squash can be treated the same way. The best recipe I’ve had for squash is creamed! It is a butter, cream and salt miracle!

Hope this helps with the pile of green and yellow on your counter!

The Seed

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This is a subject close to my heart. The Seed. A few summers ago the Lord showed me the seed. What He showed me was one plant is started from one tiny seed but the fruit from that plant has hundreds if not thousands of seeds.  Why is this important?

From a gardener perspective this is a money saving wonder! How many times do we place an order for seeds and receive a tiny package with somewhere between 30 – 100 seeds. Depending on the type of seed you might get 30 corn but 100 carrot due to the size. Yet one ear of corn can have 100+ seeds on it! A carrot plant can have 1000+. Why do we spend dollar after dollar to buy seed from some other region?

We’re scared. Somewhere along the line someone told us we couldn’t, shouldn’t or we decided we wouldn’t. Saving seed is easier than you might think.

First you must start with a seed that will yield seed after its own kind as Genesis 1:11-12 talks about. In our day this is called “Heirloom”. If you are growing a hybrid the likelihood of the next plant being the same is very slim. A hybrid has a mom and a dad plant that are different types of the same plant and the kid plant is good. However, there after you never know if you’ll get something closer to the dad, mom, or kid plant.  On this note a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seed NEVER yields seed after its kind because it doesn’t have a mom and dad of the same genetic makeup. Hence I do not agree with GMO production. However GMO’s haven’t flooded the backyard gardener quite yet.

Second, you must leave room for your plants to continue to grow past its picking stage. In the case of root or herb plants (carrot, lettuce, etc)  this means just leaving one or two in the row to continue to grow into flowering and seed production. For the fruiting plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc) you would need to continue to pick the fruit till close to the end of that plants season and then chose the best producing plant to leave a couple of fruits on the plant to over ripen. This insures that the seed is completely developed before you harvest it.

Third you must pick, dry and store the seed in the proper way. To pick seed the most likely place is in the bottom of the flower pod. You can crack open the flower and find tons of seeds. (As pictured above. These are lettuce seeds from a flower pod) Also some plants produce a seed pod on the stem somewhere.  They tend to resemble some sort of “pea pod”. In the case of fruiting plants the seed obviously is in the fruit and so you must extract that seed and dry it. Pumpkins are super easy but tomatoes and cucumbers are a little tricky in that they prefer to be “fermented” first. I know! Your mind is swirling! Mine did too but when I found out that fermenting was as easy as putting the washed seed in a jar of water 3/4 full and leaving it in my window…. I relaxed. The good seed simply sinks to the bottom! Cool huh!

Drying and storing is fairly easy also in that to dry seed you lay clean, towel dried seeds out on a cookie sheet.  Turning them and stirring them frequently to keep them from molding. Once they are dry to the touch and somewhat firm, you can put them in paper lunch bags to store away from light and moisture. If they are a large seed such as squash plants store the paper bag in a dry arid place for a bit to continue to dry the inside before packing away. Do not use plastic bags because if any moisture at all is left in your seed it will humidify the plastic bag and mold your seed.

If you do these things and mess it up don’t worry, we all have. In this day and age you can still buy a new seed packet and start again.  Don’t give up though because the joy of growing little grandbabies in your garden is more than you can imagine. Some of the benefits are stronger, healthier, pest resistant plants that will produce so much more seed than you need and you can share! Sharing seed is a tradition that should never go away because it points us right back to our fellow neighbor in whom we should love like Jesus commanded us!

Which brings me to the next point. The Jesus in the seed. You see the Lord says that one seed (Adam) brought sin into this world because all his plants after him were of the likeness of him as stated in Genesis 5:3 and 1Cor 15:22. If you have a plant that produces cucumbers and you plant that seed, all you’re ever going to get is cucumbers…. right? This is why Jesus had to come and let us be born again of a new seed. His seed. So that when we grow, we produce fruit after His kind. These fruits are called sinless because Jesus did not sin though tempted (as in the wilderness). Each of us are first born of Adam, even a child born of a saved person is still first of Adam. We must all make the choice to change our seed to Jesus individually.

The neat thing about seeds is when you look at how many seeds come from just one plant you start to see the generational promise in Exodus 20:5-6. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.  When I bust open a seed pod I can see how quickly even one generation lost is so many lost and one generation taught is so many! If I am that plant, and my fruit yields seed…. hundreds and hundreds of seed….. I question quickly what plants my seeds would grow. If seeds saved from plants grown in the same environment year after year produce stronger, healthier, pest resistant plants, what environment should I be growing my children in? The answer is not wealth or ease but an environment that loves Jesus.

Are you still a plant of the seed of Adam? If so, the way to fix it is simple. The Lord says, if you believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and He died for your sins and rose again, all you have to do is confess this belief with your mouth and let the redeemed of the Lord say so! So to that I say… SO!

Amen

Why be a producer?

20140723_130354As I confessed in my previous blog, I used to think that I was becoming a producer because if I knew where it was grown and how it was grown it would be healthier and my family and I would live a longer, better life.  Surprise, surprise, I was wrong. The Lord says “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” Psalms 27:4. The interesting thing about my desire to learn to be a producer was that I was wrong in my motivation.  As soon as I “delighted” myself in the Lord, He promptly showed me why He had placed that desire in my heart.

You see I was explaining to my children why the Lord is about to judge this nation.  First, why does God judge nations real time? Answer: there are no “nations” in heaven to judge, only individuals. Second, why would God judge this nation? Answer: it was founded as “One Nation Under God” which means it was supposed to set a better example and for a long time it did, now it has turned from God and mocks Him openly. Third, what does judgement of a nation look like? Answer: historically speaking, a collapse of economy or invasion and take over by an enemy sometimes both.  Take a look at Ezekiel 35, it is one of many examples of what God does when He judges a nation.  Why does this explanation matter? Answer: this is why we are called to learn to produce something. Not to save ourselves but to save a nation after its collapse.  By save, I truly mean the only “saved” that matters and that’s saved from eternal judgement in Hell.

Okay wait…. I talked about why we are becoming producers and I seemingly jumped to saving from Hell?? UHHH…. How does cabbage save people from Hell you might ask? I can understand why you would.  I asked the same thing.  Here’s the answer.  When people are starving it doesn’t take long for word to get around who has the food.  When they line up at my door I must have something to feed their physical body. More importantly, I must feed their spirit.  I explained to my children if I feed their stomach and they live one more day but at death face eternal Hell, what good have I done? None.  You can guarantee that if you share a meal with me, you will leave with an understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for you, or I’ve failed.

The practice starts now.  I must know how to provide enough food for more than my family before the time comes.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the learning curve on some of these activities is drastically steep!  I must also start to teach people now, not wait for the starving because Jesus says Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1. The emphasis is NOW.  NOW I should follow Jesus whole heartedly and share Him. NOW I should learn to do these things and if the judgement delays past my lifetime, then I’ve obeyed and still I’m certain many will be impacted by the obedience.  If the least of what I’ve done is pass this teaching down to my children, I’ve climbed a mountain in my book.  I can only hope that my children will be even bolder for Jesus than I am.

It’s always a personal choice. My cabbage opportunity may not save you or anyone else if you don’t accept the message yourself. However, I must spread the word.  Jesus says Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.  If the desire to grow things lives inside you…. Maybe you should delight yourself in the Lord and He will show you what it is going to accomplish.  Many times we think we have it figured out, I know I did.  Often times we find out that there is so much more Jesus is doing than we could have imagined.  He says For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, Isaiah 55:8.  However, when we let the mind of Christ be in us (Philippians 2:5) than our thoughts can be just like His and our ways be led by Him!

Amen

An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away??

appleWhy the question mark? Isn’t this a known truth??

Someone once told me an old saying….. A lie told 1000 times is still a lie.

I’ve got some of your attention now don’t I! Don’t worry I used to believe this lie too. I used to think that if I grew it myself I knew what it was made of and if I knew what it was made of then I would stay healthy. Jesus shot this idea right in the foot for me.

My daughter puked today and my first thought was “we’ve been eating a lot of junk food”. I’m convicted of this thought. Why? Jesus did not say…. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing…..oh except junk food…. and that means chips, hot dogs, school lunch, and GMO’s definitely worry about those….” Dangit! That’s NOT what He said. He said….”Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Mathew 6:25 and 15:17-18)

Okay so you may argue that this is talking spiritual defilement. Fine, lets follow that logic trail, how then do you explain chapter 14 of Romans? I was thinking about copying the whole thing here but if you really want to follow the train, you’ll read 14. You want my synopsis? Eat what you’ve been given which is all things as long as you believe in the One who gives you life. Don’t eat anything that may lead another into sin if they don’t understand why you feel free to eat it. My statement is not nearly as convicting as chapter 14.

Let me come at this a new direction. If you DONT eat something because you’re afraid of it, what is controlling your decision? Fear or Faith? If you eat something because you don’t fear Jesus (hence if He has told you to not eat it) then what is controlling your decision? Obedience or Disobedience?

Now don’t go getting all wrapped up in the Law here because I will always tell you what you need is a deep personal relationship with Jesus, not a bunch of rules.  The law had a job to do. That job was to point to Jesus. Do the eating rules in the Law tend to show healthy results? Yes. Do they mean you can make it into heaven by following them? No. Furthermore, does Jesus not talk about how everything is good to eat now if you trust in Him? Yes. Why??

I will tell you! Jesus is the way, the truth, the LIFE. Only thru Jesus do we have life anyway even if we choose NOT to eat. “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Have not many fasted for days and weeks even? Yes.

So then does this mean that my daughter was “defiled” at heart and puked? No. What this means is that if my daughter needs healing then I need to seek the one that gives healing… Jesus. He paid for it, why wouldn’t He want us to take part in it? If I trust only changing her diet to heal her, who/what am I trusting in? Ouch right?

Here is my choice, instead of jumping straight to blaming the food we ate, ask Jesus. Here’s my prayer “Lord, forgive me for not trusting that when I prayed for you to bless my food that you did. I know that thru sin in the earth there are things that make us sick. I also know that by disobedience I can suffer consequences. Have I sinned and this is a consequence or is this just a result of sin in the world? Show me Lord and I shall repent. If there is something I need to do or not do show me. Heal my daughter Lord for I know that only you can heal and only you can give life. Thank you for the price you’ve paid.”

Jesus vs Sin…. Jesus wins. You see even if it was because the sin in the world resulted in bad food or resulted in a bad virus that doesn’t mean that I have to fear it. Jesus wins. If its due to my own sin, then confess and Jesus says “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If it is due to Adam’s sin, again confess it and be cleansed. This is not rocket science but admittedly, I forgot this.

So what then do I say to those that read this and think that I’m saying I can do whatever I want and Jesus will let me, and for that matter bless me for it? That’s crap. That’s what’d I’d say to that. What I’m trying to say is that if I have a true, deep, honest relationship with Jesus and He convicts me to eat differently or not eat differently than I better obey! The Lord says “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Also what I’d say is that the Lord has convicted me of where my trust is. Do I trust Jesus or do I trust food? My actions must line up with my faith or its dead.

I must go pray for healing with my daughter and confess to her my sin of believing in food and not Jesus. We’ll chat again soon!

Forgiveness in Goats and Chickens?

20140223_144904This morning I asked Jesus “Lord, what are these animals teaching me about you that I can share with others?” He said “forgiveness”. I of course said…. “HUH?”

It is my deepest desire to share with you things the Lord is showing me. This means He must SHOW me something. This falls in the category of showing me right here and now, not something He’s showed me in the past so here we go!

Forgiveness? What do chickens, goats, geese, turkeys etc have to do with that? When you have animals you will end up with one or more of them ticking you off. They get out of the yard, they step on your feet, they eat things that they’re not supposed to, they fight you while your trying to help them…. ohhh…..! I’m an animal sometimes to Jesus! I get off trail, I step on His plan for me and make a mess of it, I take part in things I shouldn’t and dangit… I fight Him when he is trying to help me. Yet, He forgave me when I still hated Him. Romans 5:8-11 says “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

I dare you to re-read those verses. Look for the words sinners, enemies, reconciled and atonement. It brought tears to my eyes to consider myself an enemy of God. We all start that way. So how does this correlate to animals? Can they ask for forgiveness? No. They cant speak…. and if they can to you…. umm that’s a new discussion! Yet we have to forgive them. Would I say your animals hate you or are your enemies, no. However if you start to forgive something as simple as an animal without being asked for forgiveness or without an apology then could we apply the “practice makes permanent” theory? Yes.

Are we going to have a stranger, neighbor, friend, family member or spouse that is going to treat us like an enemy? Maybe do something that we must forgive without them ever repenting? Absolutely. If we are practicing forgiving with animals will we be better at forgiving people in our lives? Absolutely! Will it be easy? No, but I dare say as we do more forgiving the more easily it will come.

Here’s the toughest of questions in forgiveness… “Does it make what they did right?” No. So work is required here. Training work like teaching them to follow instead of dragging them. Work like mending fences, wearing boots, feeding them the appropriate amounts so they don’t get thru the fence for your neighbors grass… you get the point. The same applies to people.

Teaching people comes in many forms. Sometimes teaching people comes from teaching them wrong from right and the best way to do that is humbling ourselves to apologize for our wrongs or being open to discuss area’s we’ve learned things. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes. When we ask for forgiveness we get better at giving it, know that it is desperately needed by all. The last part of that scripture says “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” this atonement with Him gives us joy and therefore atonement with others will give us joy.

Sometimes the “people” needing to be taught is you, hence the boots and feeding corrections. You see, we were enemies with Jesus before we received Him has our savior. Now we are not enemies but co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ) This is where I’m going, if now we are no longer enemies, than are we still in need of forgiveness? Yes. We make mistakes and 1John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Can we act unrighteous after we’ve been saved? Yes. We’ve worked on animals, and worked on people, this is how Jesus works on us. Regardless of the other persons reaction our confession cleanses us because Jesus does the cleansing, not the people.

Ok, goats can’t confess so where did I get this from animals? I’ll tell you. My chickens have been getting into my neighbors yard. I’ve done tons of things to try to fix this however my neighbor is still upset about it. I reacted on our last occasion with harshness and unkindness because, well the because doesn’t matter does it. I acted that way and knew that I must apologize knowing full well that this neighbor has no desire nor is he equipped to forgive me. I had to anyway. Even if I was never to be forgiven by my neighbor, Jesus could clean my unrighteousness regardless of the reaction.

I’m grateful for the chastisement of my Lord for he says in Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Ask Jesus today what you can work on, who might learn from it and where you can practice.

Amen

 

 

Its a Dirty Job…

Don’t let a little dirt get in your way of planting something. What do I mean? Well, this is the statement made to me…

“I don’t even know how to prepare the ground…”

Honestly, in just about every place I know you can grow something with very little effort. Most back yards will let you turn the dirt over in circle about 18″ in diameter chop up the clumps, and plant a seed right in the middle of it. I used to think to grow a garden you needed rows and rows of tilled earth and if you didn’t rent one of those motorized machines to do it, you were doomed to failure…. it just isn’t so.  Now, that’s not to say that you should never do anything to your dirt. Just don’t stress out so much about it that you never do anything.

 Little effort plants I posted in “Lets Get Started”. What I didn’t address was the dirt, planting, water and mulch.

The dirt: get your shovel and get it into the dirt as far as you can. Pry it up and turn the whole clump over. Use your shovel then to chop up the clump right there in the hole. Do this in a circle till its about 18″ in diameter. Believe it or not that is enough room for most easy veggies to grow. If you want to be sure, get yourself a bag of organic potting soil (I prefer Square Foot Gardening) and mix a bit of it into the soil you chopped up.

The Planting: When planting the seeds I suggested follow the basic directions on the package right in the middle of your circle. Make sure you pat it down gently so your seeds don’t float but don’t get overboard or it’ll struggle coming up.

The Water: Since you created yourself a hole, there is no need to water your entire yard just to water your plant. Fill the hole with water daily till your plant peeks its head out. If you want to be able to turn on your water and walk away by all means bust out the sprinkler! Another fun way to water is to take a super cheap hose (or just a old one wearing out) and lay it out in whatever pattern your circles are in and cut tiny holes in the hose at each circle. Crimp the end of your hose with a heavy rubber band (I use hair ties) then turn your water on low and enjoy your very easy and adjustable “drip system”.

The Mulch: Once your beautiful little baby pops its head out mulch the circle with something biodegradable and good for next years garden. Example: my property has a lot of clay in the soil so I mulch with wood chips so that I can turn those under and in doing so increase the organic matter in my soil for water retention next year! Here are some great mulches; wood chips, straw, pine shavings, pine needles, nut shells, leaves and even cardboard that isn’t waxed. Get creative but remember where you live. If its hot mulch lightly colored, if its cold mulch dark colored, if its windy mulch heavy such as nut shells. Mulch is for water retention and weed suppression so have fun!

2013-10-19 15.51.05No one said a garden has to have rows! Not to say there isn’t a purpose for rows just don’t get stuck on it. I planted pumpkins at the base of my greenhouse short wall and it caught all the rain water and dropped it right on my pumpkins. The beauty was the leaves! I grow an heirloom called Big Max and the leaves can stand as tall as my waste! Oh how they were gorgeous wrapping all the way around the greenhouse and providing shade for the inside and a green background and wonderful yellow/orange flowers to look at from my back porch.  I’ve told several people now to try growing pumpkins about a foot from the base of their gutter down spouts. Train them to follow the house and before you know it, you’ll have greenery that after the first frost will surprise you with great big gifts that had been hiding underneath.  Little work… great pie!

Lets talk about raised beds briefly. I love my raised beds. I recommend it for any gardener for a multiplicity of reasons. However, its June. Don’t worry about it this year. We’ll build some beds in late fall after canning when there isn’t much growing but we want to be outside cultivating for next year. I am all about recycling and there are so many fun ways to build beds for very little cost so I may go over some ideas before then so you can start grabbing materials sooner.  For now, plant a squash anywhere.

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.

Just try, if you mess it all up, try again next year.

Amen.

Self Sufficient or Producing?

20141030_184550There is a huge push right now to become self sufficient. Of course this concept is subject to the culture in which we live now and has a variety of applications and names. Some call it prepping, off grid living, small farming, simple living, big brother awareness, tiny houses, homesteading, the list goes on and on. I have found that most of the information driving these concepts are based in fear.  Fear of GMOs, people, money or lack of money, world population, imposing government, and economic crashes this list is longer than the first.  I would like to introduce you to becoming a producer with faith.  Faith that this creation was given to us with a divine purpose and we have a divine job to “be fruitful and multiply”.

Faith based producing doesn’t look much different from old-time homesteading on the surface but it has a huge difference in the long run. Having a true and honest reason for why you are doing something can affect the way you do it, but also the drive to keep doing it. Most don’t know this but the life of growing things is much harder in some areas and easier in others that you wouldn’t expect. Why keep doing it if you don’t truly know why? You wouldnt. It’s easy to fall off a band wagon, its much harder to change your core beliefs to accommodate a different lifestyle. This is why the Lord showed me that our family is not becoming self sufficient, we are becoming producers.

When we first started this journey I thought we were heading in the path of self-sufficiency. The Lord is so gracious that He showed me that is not at all what He wants from His people. He says do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25). If we dig deeper he also says two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up Ecc 4:9-10. This means that we cannot run away from people and rely only on our own efforts for us to survive. This is not healthy both physically and spiritually.

If we dig deeper into the meaning of “self-sufficiency” we see that the emphasis is on our own ability to supply all our needs. This directly contradicts how we were made. We were made to need Jesus and we were made for fellowship with others. Now, that being said, in regard to cities the Lord also talks about woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! (Isa 5:8). What this means to me is that its ok to take a field and make it produce, as long as we are including Jesus in the process. This keeps us from depending on the strength of a fortified city (physical walls are not the only thing that “fortify” a city) or the false security of a country home.

It also means not just producing for you, but for others also. Why? Because He says… Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, For I was a hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in, naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? The King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Mathew 25:35-40).

You can be a producer right where you are! It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, city house, country acre or hundreds of acres. I know people who grow more on a patio than those that have an acre and those that grow more on an acre than those with hundreds. We are here to help you grow and enjoy producing from any amount of space you have and  also give you new tricks and encouragement and insights on creation you may have never seen!  A love for Jesus and a little hard work and you’ll be producing and learning from it in no time!

Amen

Volunteer Lettuce

Volunteer LettuceVolunteer Lettuce?? Yes! It is one of my favorite parts of spring. I do nothing at all and lettuce grows somewhere in the garden. Usually down wind from the last place that you planted lettuce.

How do you do this, you may ask! Well, its quite easy which is why it is so fun! Start by picking out an heirloom variety. Most varieties will produce a seed that will grow again but with heirloom you’ll know what will be growing the next year and therefore be able to spot it better. I use Amish Deer Tongue. When you plant this year, plant as much as you like plus a little more. The beauty of how easy this idea can be is exactly that… beautiful flowers will shoot up out of your lettuce plants you left behind and you can enjoy the beauty. The seeds will naturally develop at the flower head and drop or blow with the wind when they dry up. Hint: do not try to eat the leaves of the lettuce once it starts to bloom, they become very bitter and you’ll get an unfair idea of the taste of that lettuce. Lettuce is best tasting young and early in the morning or just after watering.

At the end of your year you’ll go thru the motions of pulling up all the dead plants and composting them.  You’ll turn your beds over and with out ever knowing it, you’ll plant your lettuce. Next spring you’ll start to see lettuce pop in fun places. The best part is that in most regions the lettuce will come up and be ready to pull and be eaten long before you need to plant that bed with warm weather plants.

Another note for those who are under the same misunderstanding that I was when I first started a garden…. your lettuce will rarely be growing at the same time as your tomatoes! This is fun though because it forces us out of the box of what a “salad” really is! Some wonderful salad additions that are more likely to be ready while you have lettuce ready are radishes, beets, carrots, and sugar peas. Why not throw those in a bowl and relish the freshness as early as March! Later on you can plant a fall set (beginning in late August early Sept) and enjoy your cucumbers and tomatoes with your favorite lettuce.

What does this show us about Jesus? This is how the parable of the seed is more clear to me. Not all the seeds your lettuce produce will fall on good ground. After you watch the first set of lettuce come up in the most unlikely places you’ll reflect that the people that we would never guess could come to know and love Jesus, do! What should we do then? Spread the seed of Jesus as the wind, the wind has no judgment on where it lands or what direction its going, you may be surprised where the good soil is!

Happy planting!

Let’s get started

Fun easy plants for anyone to grow

Anytime I talk to someone about growing their first vegetables I always recommend greenbeans, cucumbers, yellow summer squash, zucchini and pumpkins These are so easy to grow from seed and it’s important to be successful the first time because it will encourage you to try something new the next year. If you like tomatoes as I do, just go to your local nursery and find a plant. Next year you can try tomatoes from seed, they are super easy but you have to get started in March and we’re already in May.

20150625_112233Green beans: If you have a fence line or lattice area this is a great place for beans. A pole type bean (Kentucky Wonder) means they will climb like a vine and it is not only nutritious but beautiful. They are simple to start from seed and don’t need much attention except to guide them into the fence instead of on the ground.

Cucumbers: These are like beans in that they are a vine also. Someone might tell you that you need 2 different kinds of cucumbers, a pickling and a table. I disagree. The National Pickling cucumber is delicious as a table cucumber so just grow one for now and if you decide later you want try something else then go for it! This has a double bonus because if you have tons then you can try your hand at pickling, which is much easier than you might think.

Yellow Squash or Zucchini: My father in law had a saying… “what do you have when you plant 2 zucchini plants?… 1 to many!” He was right of course! Every pot luck has some sort of zucchini dish starting around July and all the way thru October around here. These two plants are marvelously easy to grow and there are so many fun ways to prepare them that you’ll enjoy it year after year.

2013-10-19 15.51.05Pumpkins: This one needs space but if you have it, go for it. It’s is so much fun to watch the first freeze reveal the enormous treasures hiding under the expanse of greenery! It’s hard to look for them during the season because the leaves and vines are prickly so just let them go and enjoy the surprise in October! This squash is so easy to cook and store for future pie, bread and baby food that you’ll feel like a pro the very first year!

20150625_112209Tomatoes: Contrary to most opinions, I think tomatoes are easy…. If you know the tricks! Tomatoes are of a tropical background and knowing this helps guide you to healthy tomatoes. Around here we have what we call high dessert weather. It’s extremely warm during the day and freezing cold night. A trick my father law taught my husband, who thankful taught me this; to control the drastic drops in temperature, add a wall water around your new plant. I use old milk jugs or 2 liter bottles. The water will slowly warm up during the day and slowly cool off during the night. Essentially creating a more leveled out temperature which encourages the tomatoes to grow.