Lessons Learned So Far from the Jubilee Garden (+ Pictures!)

So far, the Jubilee garden has been going well! 

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned this growing season:

  1. I really miss the joy of planting and seeing things sprout and grow.  So much so, that I found myself at our local nursery this week buying herbs and marigolds to fill the pots on our deck. Just the deck. Yep! At least that’s how I’m justifying it to myself.
  2. I should have gone hardcore on the regenerative pruning. The bushes out front could have been cut WAY closer to the ground to promote new growth. Now I have weird sticks with spiky new growth on them. Check out the pictures below to see what I mean. I was so nervous about the possibility of killing the shrubs that I chickened out. I might try to correct this later in the season as the new growth fills in.
  3. I was pleasantly surprised by our beet harvest this year! Nice, big beets (golden and maybe detroit dark red or bulls blood – can’t remember which ones I planted). I love roasted beets – they’re sweet like candy. Will definitely be planting more of these in the future.
  4. I planted WAY too many brassicas last fall. The flowers were beautiful when they bolted this spring, but we just don’t eat enough broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts to justify how much I planted. We got exactly zero cabbages out of the many I planted. 
  5. Fennel is a magnet for swallowtail caterpillars – keep this around if you like pollinators.
  6. Radish seed pods are edible and add a nice crunch to salads.
  7. Why did I plant rutabaga? Who even eats rutabaga? Did I think I would suddenly have an affinity for them if I grew them?
  8. Fava beans are where it’s at. You get a huge bang for your buck when you plant these – huge beans with plentiful pods if you keep picking them. Definitely be sure to stake them/support them, though, or you’ll end up with a floppy mess like mine.
  9. Accept the generosity of fellow gardeners. I’ve already received amazing garden goodies from thoughtful friends and neighbors who knew I was taking a break this season. Thank you Alyson & Natalie!
  10. Volunteer plants are still coming up! I’ve found surprise potatoes, strawberry spinach, sunflowers, and swiss chard. Can’t wait to see what else pops up!
  11. Some of my garden experiments look like they’re paying off – some of the fig and lavender cuttings are viable!

Overall, I’m still thankful that I’m taking a break from my typical garden schedule this year. I get to see my little pole beans (the girls) growing and I love that so much is continuing on its own without my intervention. 

Here are some of the latest garden photos – enjoy!

 

RutabagaRadish seed pods - they're edible!Beets about to flowerUFO - haven't identified this moth yetBeet harvestGolden beetSliced beets ready for roastingOur local greenhouseEmpress Wu hostas (giant!) and a surprise sunflowerMore pruning resultsPruning resultsHerb haul + marigolds

 

Coming up:

Sunday: Knit Together – Psalm 139

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Every Thought Captive

How is your mental health lately?

One of the silver linings of this past pandemic year has been the number of people seeking mental health care. I think that’s a joy and a win for Christ’s kingdom. 

Recently, someone recommended the book “Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the battle in Your Mind” by Joyce Meyer to me. It was an interesting read, and though I don’t one hundred percent agree with all her arguments, I did find several ideas in the book helpful and interesting. 

(The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link.)

One of the passages she cites has been on my mind a lot recently, and it’s about taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. Here’s the passage:

 

Paul’s Defense of His Ministry: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

10 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

 

I have a very active imagination. My dreams are vivid and I daydream A LOT (feel bad for poor Jonah, who has to try to get my attention when I’m immersed in thought!). When I read scripture, I sometimes get visual images that help me put things into perspective. This passage, for whatever reason, reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean and walking the plank.

Walk the Plank

The mental warfare that is going on in our minds is just as real as the warfare we see playing out in the world everyday. The difference lies in the types of weapons we have at our disposal to fight those battles. We’ve got spiritual armor to defend us, and one amazing weapon: the Word of God.

As someone who battles daily with negative thinking patterns, I find it extremely helpful to visualize making every negative thought I have walk the plank. 

Is your thinking, not just your behavior, obedient to Christ? When you find yourself overgeneralizing, jumping to conclusions, entertaining made-up scenarios and conversations with people who frustrate you, can you arrest that thought and make it walk the plank?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this passage. After reading it, what is your main takeaway? Leave a comment below!

Coming up:

Wednesday: Lessons Learned So Far from the Jubilee Garden (+ Pictures!)

Next Sunday: Knit Together – Psalm 139

 

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A Few of My Favorite Things

Well… we had a baby this week! Our second daughter is here and we are over the moon! Things this time around have felt so much easier (knock on wood), from the labor, to managing things around the house, to nursing, to coping with the sleepless nights. Life is really, really good right now. 

When I set out to write this post, I was going to include information about some of my favorite things for the garden. But I’ve just been hit over the head time and time again this week that some of my favorite things aren’t things – they’re people

Having a baby is a time in life when you realize that there’s so much you CAN’T do on your own. Birthing and caring for a baby requires help from others – nurses, doctors, friends, neighbors, family, your spouse, your other children, your church. This week, we’ve been witness to (and beneficiaries of) our community rallying to help us. Meals, much-needed coffee, and delicious bread have magically appeared on our porch. Gift cards for last-minute baby items and meal delivery have shown up in our inboxes. Friends have thrown together a Meal Train for us so we won’t have to worry when the flurry of offers to help have died down. Friends have shared baby clothes, garden produce, and their time – even cutting our grass unannounced!

Weeks like this remind me that there is so much goodness in this world – people who are the salt and light of this world. Salt preserves what is good. Light shines and shows the way. 

To all of you who have helped us and been salt and light to us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you!

 

Salt and Light – Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

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Wild Card Wednesday!

It’s Wild Card Wednesday(WCW)! What is WCW? It’s the best day of the week, is what!

On Wild Card Wednesdays, I’m going to bring you something I find truly hilarious, poignant, or just can’t keep to myself because it’s that good.

Today you’re in for a treat! The best slapstick humor of all time from one of my favorite shows, Parks & Rec. Enjoy!

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The Importance of Rest

Now that I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy with baby #2, I’m starting to realize that rest is kind of a big deal. There’s nothing like carrying around another human for 9 months while chasing a toddler to make you realize that woman does not live on caffeine alone (the Bible says that, right? :-D).

It’s not that I don’t want to rest. In theory, rest sounds GREAT.  It’s putting it into practice that is so tough. I’m a night owl by nature – I used to routinely go to bed at 2 AM until I started working a 9-5 job. Now that I work a 24 hour job (#momlife), I frequently find myself up at strange hours due to insomnia, a crying child, or street noise.

night-owls-can-i-get-a-hoot-

Anyway, today, I read the story of Jesus calming the storm in the children’s Bible we have for our toddler. Here’s the version from Mark 4:35-41:

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still! Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

For whatever reason, it just hit me funny that Jesus was straight up sleeping in the middle of a storm that made a bunch of experienced fishermen think they were going to die. I’m guessing the disciples had seen their fair share of bad storms, but here we see next-level wind and waves. I’m envisioning something out of movies like “The Perfect Storm”, “Deep Impact”, or that awful Russell Crowe version of “Noah”. Don’t waste your time. It’s horrible.

Perfect Storm Movie Poster Noah Movie Poster

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but you get what I’m saying. It was scary!

First off, I envy the fact that Jesus is such a deep sleeper. Where can I get some of that quality shut-eye?!

Secondly, when would He have woken up? It says the waves were crashing over the boat so it almost swamped. You’d think the water splashing on Him would have woken Him up, right?

Thirdly…those disciples (shaking my head over here). Can I just say, I love whenever the disciples appear in scripture. They give voice to everything I feel and would probably be thinking myself in these crazy situations with Jesus. Frequently, they play the role of “Captain Obvious” or the ancient near east equivalent of The Three Stooges. I love their comment: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Well said, disciples. Well said. That’s a question I’ve definitely brought before the Lord on MANY occasions. It’s not always phrased like that, but the sentiment is the same.

“Don’t you care about me?”

Maybe you can identify with some of these variants of the same question:

Don’t you care that…

    • ….I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in over two years? 
    • …I’m overworked, overtired, and at the end of my rope?
    • …my loved one isn’t well and is dying?
    • ….this storm of life is swirling around me and I’m going to drown?

Notice what Jesus does next. 

He first deals with the storm.

Then, He addresses the disciples’ lack of faith.

Jesus is not disturbed by our storms. He can sleep and rest right through them, because He is fully in control of the wind and the waves.

When we cry out to God in our storms, He addresses the things that are paining us first. Then He helps us work on our faith.

We could have been resting that whole time in the boat instead of panicking about drowning! Why aren’t we doing just that? Why aren’t we letting Jesus rebuke the wind and waves for us?

Lift up a prayer to God about this today. If you don’t know what to say, here’s something to get you started…

Father God, teach me to trust you and to rest confidently and securely in you. Remind me that the wind and waves recognize your voice and submit to you. Help me to submit to you also. Help me enter that deep, wonderful rest that Jesus enjoyed. I thank you that you allow me to witness you calming the storms of my life each and every day. You are good!

Special Note: Since baby girl is due very, very soon, the next few posts will be a bit lighter than usual. But lighter doesn’t mean lesser! Check back in for a good laugh this Wednesday and some of my other favorite things in coming posts. Catch you on the flip side!

Coming up:

Wednesday: Wild Card Wednesday!

Next Sunday: These are a Few of My Favorite Things

 

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2021 Goal Check-In

Because I’m a task- and goal-driven sort of person, I like to check in on my goals a few times a year. Quarterly-ish seems about right for me, so I’m a little overdue for a check-in. I thought I’d share with you all how I’m doing so far this year, in the hopes that being transparent (and accountable) will help me get back on track! 

For the items below, green text means I’m on track, while items in purple need some work.

My Goals

Theme Verse: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I haven’t fully memorized this, which is sad since it’s not even a long verse. I’m going to make it my phone background for a little bit and see if it helps me memorize it. You can, too! Just save the image below:

Philippians 4:8

 

Personal Goals

  • Read 2 books/mo (24 total)
    • I’ve read 13 so far!
  • Write in my prayer journal & mom journal daily
    • More or less, I’m doing this. If I forget, I go back and fill in.
  • Phone free mornings & one offline day each week
    • Doing HORRIBLY at this. I need some accountability/ideas on how to curb my phone use, so if you have any suggestions of things that have worked for you, please let me know in the comments below!
  • Have daily one-on-one quiet time with God during kids’ nap time or after their bed time
    • I’ve been doing daily readings from She Reads Truth and have really enjoyed it! The great part is they have built in catch up and rest days on Saturdays and Sundays, so it’s not too overwhelming.
  • Eat less meat by choosing 1 main meat/week
    • I could be doing better about this. It usually ends up being 2 meats per week. Send me some links to your favorite vegetarian recipes in the comments below.
  • Be fully present at meals – no cell phone distractions or leaving the table
    • Again, doing HORRIBLY at this. I did make one change that has helped with my bad habit of getting up from the table during the meal, and that’s having a pitcher of water in the dining room for meals. Usually my getting up stems from being thirsty (I’m a camel when it comes to drinking water). I could still improve on getting up to put away plates, etc.

Family Goals

  • Read a parenting book together with Jonah
    • Haven’t even purchased the book yet. I guess this is my nudge to just go ahead and buy it already! This is the book:

 (This is an Amazon Affiliate link)

  • Visit 5 more state parks as a familyHa Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
  • Visit the farmers market 1x/mo after vaccinated for COVID
    • Fully vaccinated now, but haven’t made it to the market yet.

Financial Goals

  • Open college accts for baby #2
    • Baby is almost here! Will be on my list of things to do in the next few weeks after she’s born.
  • Save towards next home down payment & set up auto-drafts to savings 
    • I’ve set up the automation! Why did it take me so long to automate this stuff? I should have been doing this for years.

Sooooo it looks like I have some work to do! If you have suggestions or comments, leave them below! How are you doing with your goals so far? Any pro tips? I’d love to hear from you!

Coming up:

Wednesday: Garden Update – The Bolt & The Beautiful

Next Sunday: The Importance of Rest

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Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference

There comes a point in every gardener’s life when he or she is faced with one of life’s toughest questions: “Is that a weed or something I planted and forgot about?”

I forgot what i forgot - Dory | Meme Generator

If you’re like me, that question comes up more times than you care to admit. 

Spring is a tough season for plant identification because there are a lot of tiny plants growing and you usually only have a few seed leaves to base your ID on. But today, we’re going to attempt to sort out what’s a weed and what’s a seed.

 

The Importance of Weedling vs. Seedling Identification

I’ve heard it said that a weed is just a plant out of place. Before you bust out the Round-Up on what you think might be a weed, think about what role that weed might be performing for you in your home landscape. 

Weeds can be beautiful, functional, and do many of the things that purposely sown plants do. For instance, they can attract pollinators with their blooms, mine nutrients trapped in deeper levels of the soil (tap roots of dandelions), and sometimes even be eaten!

Henbit

Henbit – A beautiful, flowering weed! (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Weeds only become problematic when they are invasive, out-compete the things we intend to grow, or have a noxious or negative attribute (poisonous, attract pests, ugly). 

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed – phototoxic (its sap prevents skin from being able to protect itself from sunlight, resulting in scarring and skin inflammation). Ironically, a member of the same family of plants as Carrots and Queen Anne’s Lace (Source: NY Times)

If a plant’s negative attributes outweigh the positive, I’m all for getting rid of it! In fact, if a plant is harmful to children or pets or can be easily confused with an edible plant, it’s best to get it out of there as early as possible so the weed doesn’t bear seed and breed a whole new generation of weeds. That’s where weedling vs. seedling identification comes in.

 

Questions to Ask

Here are a few things you can ask as you’re trying to determine if something is a weedling or seedling:

  1. LOCATION: Do you remember or have a record (planting diagram) of planting something in this space? Is it coming up in a uniform pattern (i.e. you spaced them 2 inches apart, etc) or is it random? Unless you scattered your seeds or a heavy rain washed the seeds away, random patterns usually indicate a weed.
  2. TIMING: When did you plant your seeds? How long is the germination period for those seeds? Germination typically takes a few days to a few weeks for things we intentionally plant. If it’s outside of that window, it could be a weed.
  3. SPREAD: How contained is this plant? Does it seem to be spreading? Choking out other plants? Those are usually signs that a plant is a weed.
  4. IDENTIFIABLE PLANT PARTS: Are there any true leaves on the plant? Is it flowering? Producing seeds? The larger a plant grows, the easier it is to identify.

 

Resources for Weedling vs. Seedling IDs

These days, it’s pretty easy to hop online and figure out what’s a weed and what’s a seed. 

My go-to resource is our State Extension’s website. One of the best pages I’ve found in their plethora of weed-related content is this one on turf weeds, since a lot of the weeds I encounter are probably blowing in from our lawn or other lawns in our neighborhood. Just like intentional plantings, weeds vary by location, so if you’re outside of North Carolina, check your own state’s extension website for what’s endemic to your area. 

There are also plant ID apps available. A friend just recommended LeafSnap to me, but I haven’t given it a good test run yet. I’ll report back in a future post once I’ve had time to review it.

LeafSnap

Your neighbors who garden are also a great resource, since they’re likely dealing with the same things you are. Everyone has that one neighbor who loves to complain about their crabgrass!

Another resource, though less convenient and accessible, are reference gardening books from your local library.

 

Examples

Let’s look at some weedling and seedling pictures from my garden to get a feel for what’s what!

 

ChickweedSwiss ChardLambs QuartersField Milk Thistle - Field Sow ThistleBeansRutabagaRedrooted PigweedTomato SeedlingBroadleaf Plantain & MaplePokeweedCorn

 

Have you been able to identify weeds and seeds in your garden this year? What are some of your favorite tips/tricks/apps for weedling vs. seedling IDs? I’d love to hear what has worked best for you – share in the comments below!

 

Coming up:

Sunday: 2021 Goal Check-In

Next Wednesday: Garden Update – The Bolt & The Beautiful

 

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Why So Much Garden Imagery in the Bible?

Have you ever noticed that the Bible is chock-full of gardens? Well, maybe you didn’t, but now you’re not going to be able to unsee it! 

 

  • The Bible both starts AND ends in a garden. 
  • The tabernacle & later the temple are modeled after Eden
  • Old Testament prophets frequently use planting parables to explain coming judgment and deliverance (Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21, Psalm 80:8-16, Isaiah 37:30, Isaiah 65:21-22, Jeremiah 29:5 & 28, Ezekiel 28:26, Amos 9:14).
  • Old Testament wisdom books use garden metaphors to explain prosperity and disaster.
  • Jesus tells parables about fields and gardens non-stop. 
  • Jesus goes to Gethsemane (another garden) before he is betrayed by Judas Iscariot to the Jewish leaders. 
  • Jesus tells the criminal next to him on the cross that today he’ll be with Him in paradise (translated “garden”).
  • Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener after He is resurrected. 

… and that’s just scratching the surface.

 

Heck, you can even buy a green-letter Bible that highlights all of the instances of God’s care and concern for creation. I’m not making this up! I’m intrigued by this (and might have to get myself a copy sometime!).

 

(this is an Amazon Affiliate link)

 

So why so much garden imagery in the Bible?

 

That’s a good question. In searching around I found a few different ideas:

 

  • Gardens and agriculture were kind of a big deal in Ancient Near-Eastern Culture.

It wasn’t just the Israelites who were into their gardens. Sumerians (ancient Mesopotamians) believed in a creation story (Enki & Ninhursag) that focused on a garden. Plus, both cultures were positioned in the Fertile Crescent, an area known for the birth of agriculture / the cradle of civilization. Ancient hearers and readers would have understood a garden metaphor pretty well because they lived it (tilling the land) everyday.

 

  • Gardens were kind of a big deal in mythologies of other cultures worldwide. 

Check out this interesting video from Crash Course Mythology to see how pervasive they are (Crash Course’s other video are great, too, by the way):

 

  • Tending a garden is a great metaphor for creating order out of chaos.

We see this in the story of the Garden of Eden. Everything is pretty soupy and primordial, and then becomes more ordered as God creates.

 

  • Gardens are a great metaphor for spiritual growth and growing the Kingdom of God.

Jesus calls God a gardener and compares us and/or the Kingdom of God to plants/vines/weeds

 

  • Everyone can understand gardens as a symbol, because everyone has probably experienced a garden in some way. 

 

As it turns out, there are many possible explanations as to why gardens are mentioned so frequently in the Bible. Some of these explanations have a lot of research and backing, and some are speculative. The truth is, we just don’t know 100% why God reveals His word to us in garden form! 

Or maybe, just maybe, God likes to garden. 

I think that’s the explanation that I’m going with. I’m just sayin’!

 

Coming up:

Wednesday: Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference

Next Sunday: 2021 Goal Check-In

 

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How to Make a Herb Spiral

Herb spirals are a fun and easy way to fit your favorite herbs into a small planting area. I learned about this technique from a book on Permaculture called Gaia’s Garden. Check it out from your local library or get your own copy using my Amazon Affiliate link below:

The idea behind a herb spiral is that circular patterns in nature are innately space-conserving. You can minimize how much pathway vs. planting area you’ll need by organizing your herbs into a spiral pattern and also utilizing vertical space. Here are a few examples of what they can look like:

Herb Spiral Example 1

https://www.reddit.com/r/gardening/comments/8iho24/my_husband_built_an_herb_spiral_i_cant_wait_to/

Herb Spiral Example 2

https://www.buildwithrise.com/stories/herb-spirals

Herb Spiral Example 3

https://www.permaculturenorthernbeaches.org.au/how-to-build-a-herb-spiral

 

So you want to make one? Great! Here are the steps to build your very own herb spiral:

 

1. Pick Your Planting Location

Your herb spiral should be as close to your home as possible. In Permaculture, this is called Zone 0 or Zone 1. You can think of zones as a bulls-eye mapped over your property, where Zone 0 is your home and larger number Zones radiate out from that center point). The closer your herbs are to where you’ll be preparing food, the more likely you are to actually use them!

 

2. Add Some Rocks or Pavers in a Spiral Pattern

Add football to fist sized rocks or pavers, creating a spiral pattern from the base upwards. Essentially you’re delineating the planting area for each layer. If you’ve got leftover pavers, bricks or something similar, that will work fine, too. The goal is to make it ~3ft tall and 5ft wide. In the Northern Hemisphere, build it clockwise, with the opening on the North side.

 

3. Fill with Soil/Compost

Pile up some good garden soil/compost into the open gaps between your pavers/stones.  You can save some money by making this a hugelkultur bed (using sticks and twigs at the base, then filling in with soil – the twigs will eventually break down into compost).

 

4. Plant Some Herbs (and Other Garden Goodies)!

You’ve created a garden structure that has microclimates! Lay out your herbs on the spiral, taking advantage of each herb’s preferred growing conditions. You don’t have to limit it to just herbs, either. Here are some general ideas of where to put things based on whether they like more or less sun and drier or wetter conditions:

 

Plant on North (cool) / East (morning sun) Side near Bottom (wetter)

  • Lettuces
  • Parsley
  • Mint (in a sunken container so it doesn’t escape into the rest of the spiral)

Plant in the Middle (East or West side)

  • Chives

Plant Middle, East side

  • Cilantro

Plant on South (hot) / West Side (afternoon sun) near bottom (wetter)

  • Basil

Plant on South (hot) / West Side (afternoon sun) near top (drier)

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Plant on North (cool) / East (morning sun) Side near Top (drier)

  • Dill (likes the heat, but gets pretty tall so you don’t want it to block sunlight for other herbs)
  • Sage

 

Here’s an example of a layout that could work for most gardens in the Northern Hemisphere:

Herb Spiral Layout

 

5. Water!

Water your herb spiral or install irrigation tubing for automatic watering.

 


 

Here are a few additional resources explaining how to construct the spiral and where to place your favorite herbs and plants:

ARTICLE: The Magic and Mystery of Constructing a Herb Spiral and Why Every Suburban Lawn Should Have One

 

 

 

If you don’t already have a permanent solution for your herbs, I hope you’ll give this a try! Do you have a herb spiral in your garden? What do you like/dislike about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Coming up:

Sunday: Why so much garden imagery in the Bible?

Next Wednesday: Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference

 

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