I’ve planted tomatoes every spring for as long as I can remember. There’s just something wonderful about that bright deep red color you get when you slice into a home-grown tomato. And the sweetness… it’s something the grocery store doesn’t even come close to matching. I even love the scent of a tomato plant. You know, that distinctively pungent aroma you can’t miss when you rub a tomato leaf? Brings back memories of my childhood and the tomato plants that we had behind the house. Mom has told me about the tomatoes that her grandpa used to grow. As big as a dinner plate when they were sliced, she’s said. Her dad, my grandpa, was a tomato gardener too, he had wonderful backyard vines. I remember visiting their house near Los Angeles when I was a child, and they would have dozens of tomatoes in various stages of ripening sitting on a towel in the sunny back laundry room. Those tomatoes were so good! I guess I my love for tomato planting comes from several generations!
This year is one for the record books. Last summer Ottergirl (who has inherited my love of gardening!) took part in a free 4-H program called “Garden and Grow,” through our local university extension center. Together the class of kids along with Master Gardeners planted several garden plots filled with tomatoes, peppers, herbs, onions, green beans, greens, corn, of all kinds of varieties. We had so many fresh tomatoes and peppers coming home that it made my little garden bed pretty irrelevant. (See my “Summer of Salsa” post!)
A garden is such a wonderful place for kiddos to learn. It takes patience and dedication (all that watering and weeding!) to have a successful harvest, but the rewards are so worth it! Rocketboy and Ottergirl have both decided to take the class this year, so it is looking like I’ll have DOUBLE the amount of tomatoes and yummies as last year! As a result, we’ve planted one little, lonely tomato plant in my garden this year. It’s an heirloom Cherokee Purple variety, so the kids and I thought it’d be hilarious to at least make one batch of “purple” salsa out of it. We grew a Black Krim tomato last year, and it came out kinda purply, so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes this time! We’ve also got some zucchini and watermelon, strawberries, basil, and mint growing. I was trying to stay away from the more standard things since we’ll probably be bringing it home from the class already!
What’s in your garden this year? Do you have any tips or tricks for a good harvest?
The garden makes a good analogy for life sometimes too: Start with your soil. Is it rich and dark, full of mulchy goodness? Or is it dry and dusty, or sticky clay? Seeds won’t grow in just anything. Plant the seed in good soil. Start off your day with an open mind, an open heart. The Bible tells us that His mercies are new EVERY morning. That means whatever happened the day, week, months before… doesn’t matter anymore. His Grace is sufficient to cover it. Just ask Him! Our garden needs to be freshly tilled. The old soil turned under. Get your soil ready for the promises of a New Day.
Prepare your heart for the possibility that the God who loves you, created you in His own image, wants to use you to draw others to Himself. What an awesome challenge! We care about the things we put time and effort into. We don’t just let a freshly tilled and weeded garden go to waste, we plant good things in it. Just as God loves you, and wants good things for you.
As a plant grows, its roots streak downwards into that good, rich soil that brings nourishment to the plant. Make sure you are rooted in His Word. It’s the foundation for life. And just like plants, the deeper our roots go… the stronger the plant is. When the strong winds of discouragement come, we won’t be blown over if we’ve grown deep roots. And then don’t forget to water. Gardens don’t thrive when left alone, and neither do we. Spend time in prayer. Spend time with like-minded people. Encourage and lift each other up. How does your garden grow, my friend?
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