It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog posting, mostly due to the lack of time to pop on here, write and then edit out all the spelling and grammatical errors that occur. But this one feels important so I’m going to upload it today in its raw state and worry about the editing later.
This year has been by far the most challenging year I have ever experienced in growing our own food and that’s saying a lot considering the two previous were filled with monsoon rainfall turning our climate into a tropical rain forest and flooding out many peoples growing areas.
Earlier this year we had one of the latest starts to planting that I can remember. To put that into perspective, here in South Central Minnesota Zone 4 I am typically planting my cool weather crops by around the first of May, sometimes earlier. I am a late planter compared to most in my area as I’m not as willing to risk losing a crop to winters last hurrah, which is not uncommon. Many have their cool weather crops in the ground in April sometime.
The rest of our garden I typically have planted by the first of June. Now, I due succession plant so that is not the end to all my planting for the year but by then, all my long season crops are in the ground. This year, crops in our garden were unable to go in the ground much before Memorial Weekend, and I didn’t have everything planted out until June 21st. There are still a few a couple random spots that have yet to be planted that I’ve officially decided will be sowed in a couple weeks as my fall plantings.
Once we overcame the wet and cold, we quickly became hot and dry.
Not uncommon for Minnesota but because of the timing, all the plants were just tiny babies. They did not enjoy the drastic change in weather. When it did cool down, it would change drastically in the other direction. Plants were finding it hard to establish, which made them more vulnerable to pests and disease.
You guessed it. Then the pests showed up.
These came in many forms. Some were sweet furry bunnies searching for a meal after an incredibly hard winter, and some I have yet to figure out what they even are. This resulted in all my Brussels, kale and many beans being totally decimated by rabbits. And if you remember, it was a late planting season already so there will be no replanting the Brussels or the Pole Beans.
Things not eaten by the rabbit are being consumed by a variety of other bugs. Never have I observed the destructive bugs this intense so early in the season. This is resulting in a sweet potato crop that may not be able to produce tubers due to an already late start. Seriously, sweet potatoes. Here in Minnesota sweet potatoes have virtually no pest pressure. In addition to the continued sweet potato saga, eggplant, beans, peppers, greens, radishes, cabbages, broccoli and berries have all struggled to keep up with the critters nibbling away at them.
I told my husband Joe the other day that if this were my first year gardening, I would struggle to have any desire to plant again next year.
So, what is a person to do? How do you overcome once you’ve picked yourself up off the ground from yet another crop loss?
It starts with remembering where your security should be in the first place.
Remember in an earlier posting where I talked about Four Lessons the Garden Teaches Everyone? Well, now you know, many of those lessons are learned the hard way. You also learn a fifth lesson that may be the hardest of them all.
There are times when you’ve done all you can do, or at least feel good about doing, to keep something alive. You can replant bean seeds all you want, cover them to keep the rabbits away only to uncover them and find some other pest is destroying your seedlings. Nothing is guaranteed and if your security lies in the harvest your garden provides, it’s in the wrong place. You will very quickly find yourself discouraged, depressed, frustrated, and without hope.
If your security isn’t rooted firmly in your Heavenly Father as the ultimate provider, you will not withstand the storm for very long.
Let me tell you a story.
A few years back, our neighbor had sprayed is yard for weeds. His lot is directly behind our garden. There is an alley and our fence separating us. Shortly before he sprayed I had planted out our tomatoes. Within a day of him spraying, my tomatoes and peppers were disfigured. That’s right, just the tiny bit of drift that my garden received was enough to hurt them. Thankful, because I grow my own plant starts and wasn’t selling them yet, I had enough left over to replant. So, I replanted.
The new peppers and tomatoes were finally taking off when he sprayed again.
Yet again, I lost my tomatoes and my peppers were severely damaged. This time I went and purchased some tomatoes and left the peppers in hopes they would recover eventually. I was gone on our annual Canada trip about a month later only to come home and find that spray had gotten them one last time.
At this point it was too late to replant. They were already quite large plants so I left them in the ground in hopes they would slowly recover and produce even just a little fruit for fresh eating. That’s what happened. Some produced nothing, and handful of them produced roughly 5-10 tomatoes a piece. I was devastated. That was suppose to be the year I was able to preserve enough tomatoes to get us through the winter.
Towards the end of the growing season, my husband comes home from work and tells me that a friend of ours was going to be gone for the week and was wondering if we would like to pick their tomatoes. Now, we aren’t talking just a few tomato plants. Every year this husband and wife plant around a hundred tomatoes. I can’t even fathom having the time to pick that many on a regular basis. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity. Ultimately, I was able to make enough sauce and salsa to get up through most of the winter.
That’s when I remembered in whom I find security and that God provides.
I didn’t have much of a carrot crop that year either and found multiple times where someone from a local market would ask if I’d like what they had leftover from the day. Again, enough to can and last us through part of the winter.
He doesn’t always provide in the ways we are hoping for though.
It may not come in the form of tomatoes and carrots from other growers. And, I certainly don’t choose to believe just so I will be provided for. Just as Paul wrote to the Philippians, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. However the chips fall, I have learned how to be content in all circumstances.
A verse for the day pops up on my phone through a Bible app each morning. Today’s couldn’t have been more fitting for the current situation I find myself in and it comes just verses before the reference I gave to Paul above.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication () with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It continues on saying:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 8-9
I don’t believe that God is there to just provide whatever I want when I want it. But, scripture does teach that he will provide for the needs of his people ( Matthew 6:25-34).
Sometimes what He knows I need, is different than what I think I need.
Turns out the year that I didn’t have much for tomatoes or carrots, I had an over abundance of beans. We gave away beans to those who had lost theirs, and I was diligent to can what we didn’t eat fresh. This gave me the ability to not can as much the next year which was fantastic. That year we had an excessively abundant crop of tomatoes that consumed most of my kitchen time. That year I was able to provide tomatoes for those who provided for me the previous year.
It’s a beautiful thing.
I would challenge you to ask yourself the question,
“Where does my security come from?”
And if you find you’ve place your hope and security in things of this world, I would offer up a second question.
“Why am I placing my hope and security in things of this world that can ultimately never fully satisfy that need?”
And until next time, I’ll be in the garden.