Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Time to Plant

My son and I finally got to start a process that we look forward to each year: planting our vegetable and herb garden. I wouldn’t call myself an expert gardener and my tomatoes certainly wouldn’t win any awards. I just enjoy the fun of digging in the dirt, watching plants grow, and finally eating those yummy homegrown cucumbers and salsa made from our own fresh peppers. As my youngest waits for the day when he can finally yank a carrot out of the soil we enjoy snipping basil and parsley for spaghetti sauce and mint for tea. It gives my boys and me something to care for, look forward to, and show off to Dad when he gets home.

Are you looking for a new challenge? Try planting a small garden. Start with some herbs, chilies, or squash. Here are some tips that I’ve learned from:

Start with something easy. Get a few small herb plants from the grocery store to grow in pots, a cherry tomato plant, or some carrot seeds. Beginning with a simple, low-maintenance project will cut frustration and give you confidence as you learn.

Choose something that you enjoy eating or using. It doesn’t make much sense to plant zucchini if you can’t stand squash. But what about cucumbers? If you love cook, plant some basil and chives; if you like salsa, plant some jalapeño or a sweet banana pepper.

Find out what grows well in your area. I live in Northern Nevada where we basically go from cold winter to dry summer with about two weeks of spring in between. Garden departments are full of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumber seeds, and herbs but rarely do I hear a friend talk about growing watermelon. Skip the disappointment of trying something that sounds delicious but can’t tolerate your local soil or whether. Here’s a hint if you aren’t sure what to try: If Wal-Mart or Home Depot sells the potted version, it’ll survive. With seeds, on the other hand, you might have to do some research.

Be patient. Chances are that you’ll plant in May but have to wait until late summer to show off your prize radishes. Resist the temptation to pull onions up too soon or clip peppers when they’re an inch long. Waiting for ripe results will be worth the wait!

Take care of your babies. Remember to water, pull weeds, and follow instructions on steps like thinning seedlings (you usually only need to worry about this if you start with seeds)

Enjoy the results. Once veggies ripen, pluck them off and share them with your family. Savor the difference of eating a tomoto from your own backyard vs. one from the produce department.

Look for God in your garden. Let the planting, growing, and harvesting process double as quiet time. What spiritual gems can you gain from watching a few seeds mature into a push loaded with crispy cucumbers? What can pulling weeds remind you of? Ask God to speak to your heart as you enjoy a tiny piece of the creation process.
Are you ready to start? If you were going to plant something today, what would it be?

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