We pass a lot of things on to our kids, but what do we really give them when we pass on a love for gardening? I have been pondering this a lot lately…
It arrived via Fed Ex today. Shinny and ready to use. She was so excited. She couldn’t wait to fill it.
Not an iPod ready to be filled with apps.
Much better, in her mind–a watering can ready to tend to her beloved gardens and fruit trees.
As I watched her shower her blueberries, I realized how proud Dad would be.
He’s 400 miles away and hates to travel, so I doubt he’ll ever amble across the acres with her and inspect her fruits and vegetables. But he would love to.
I don’t think of summer without thinking of my father in his gardens.
He was the one who first sprouted in her a love of playing in the dirt, planting seeds, and tending to her gardening efforts daily, consistently, responsibly.
Each new summer he thought they were just growing that year’s crop together. Crisp beans they’d pop off the vines in the hot August sun and tender squash they’d watch mature until a late September afternoon. But he was sewing so much more. His efforts are still blooming, 400 miles north, a decade after he first taught her the value of soil packed under her fingernails and the promise of each new blossom discovered on tender stems.
Both harvests are invaluable.
There was the annual, physical yield. The sunbaked, golden peppers they held in their hands together and the plump green bean pods they tossed into overflowing buckets among the narrow, even rows.
And then there are the perennial, almost ethereal returns. The joys of being an intricate part of God’s springtime, life-giving miracles.
Those joys he planted deep in her. This year, being separated from him with our recent move, she saw that love take root and bloom on its own, on her novel New England landscape. His love for creating the perfect growing conditions. His tenderness for a wilted, brown shoot that needed extra special care. His marvel at God’s miraculous provision for us through simple seeds. His childlike joy over emerging sprouts and buds. He’s passed them on to her now, and this year’s harvest will be stronger and more glorious than ever before.
This harvest will be one that nourishes her for a lifetime.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” John 6:27MSG
A FEW THINGS WE’VE LEARNED in our first month of New England gardening:
The weeds and insect and mammal pests are numerous on a rural farm.
To help deter the weeds, she’s spread grass clippings over the rows of her gardens.
To help deter the deer, she planted small peppermint plants in each bed. While we love the smell when our leg brushes the aromatic plants, deer despise it enough that it truly keeps them at bay. (We were pleasantly surprised to learn that ants, aphids, and cabbage worms also dislike the wonderful aroma.)
To attract insect-devouring birds, we created our garden beds near existing mature trees and installed a few bird houses at various heights as well. Next we’re adding a birdbath. It’s easy enough to fill it with fresh water daily when we’re tending the garden, and it’s the least we can do for our bird friends who help us with insect removal.
Since frogs and toads feed on just about any creature smaller than them (insects, snails, and slugs), to the tune of 20,000 pests per year, they’re also great to have around.
To attract helpful gardening companions, like our new friend, a gray tree frog, we just placed a cracked pottery bowl upside down in one of our beds and added a shallow dish of water. Instant toad house. Of course, you can also buy a fancy one like this, or one like this if you’d like.
We’ll share more of our gardening lessons (and surely failures) over the season. But for now, for lots more great organic pest control ideas, we liked this page.
p.s. If you’d like a little tour of our gardens (and sweet farm animals) 3 summers later, take a peak below. Then take a second to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we publish a new Snippet of Life here on our New England homestead every month-ish.
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