Preparing The Garden…

…And Preparing For Harvest

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (Sept. 8, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!



So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.    1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NIV

My family plants a garden every year.  Some years the harvest is plentiful and other years it’s scarce.  One year we were still picking green beans up until the beginning of October!  It came to the point that I had canned all my cupboards would hold. I finally threatened my husband if he dared bring another bean into the house!  But last year the drought was severe and I didn’t have enough produce to preserve anything.

There’s a lot of work that goes into planting a garden.  The garden spot first has to be plowed, then tilled.  Once the rows are laid off, we add fertilizer as we plant the seeds.  Then the dreaded weeds have to be constantly hoed.  Occasionally we have to add a pest control product to keep the insects from damaging the plants.  Once the plants start to bear, we fully appreciate all the work we had done.

So much about gardening can be compared to spiritual things.  We all go through times when we are fully filled with the Holy Spirit and are growing immensely.  At other times, the cares of the world seem to cause a spiritual drought and that “pest” Satan, tries his best to choke out our joy as weeds do a garden.

Producing Fruit

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (August 25, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

plum tree

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:1-2 NIV 

I have several different types of fruits growing around my house.  I have fig bushes, muscadine vines, plum trees, pomegranates, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry plants.  There’s no comparison between the fresh fruit that I can go out and pick and what is bought in stores.

I often make jelly from the produce that I gather.  Even though the jelly is costly to make because of the amount of sugar that is required, it also is better than store bought.   (Sorry, Mr. Smuckers!)  But I love sharing the jelly with others, which I often give as Christmas gifts.

But I have to confess, even though I have access to all of the various fruits I mentioned, not all of the plants bear much.  The fig bushes produce a lot, but often the ants will get into the figs before I can pick them.  The deer eat my blueberry bushes.  The muscadines were pruned improperly and produce less each year.  The pomegranates – I just don’t pick them.

Fencing In The Garden

The year we moved into our current home, it was in the middle of July.  One day as I was washing dishes in front of the kitchen window, I again noticed rabbits playing around in the yard and squirrels running up into the trees.  There were several different types of birds that made their nests in the many trees around our property.  We would also see deer in the evenings coming into the yard.  I appreciated all of the beautiful flowers in full bloom the previous owners had planted.  There were plum trees, fig bushes, pomegranate trees and muscadines also bearing fruit.  I felt like we had our own little Garden of Eden.  Until the next summer.

Preserving the Harvest

My family plants a garden every year.  Although it is a lot of work, we think the fresh vegetables and fruits are so much better than what is bought in the store.  I usually try to can and freeze whatever I can.  One year we had so many green beans, that I opened a jar and served them almost every Sunday for over a year.  I usually freeze corn and squash.  I also make a lot of jelly from the fruit we grow.  Our plum trees were especially plentiful this year.  I also use figs, blackberries and muscadines to make jelly.  The only thing about jelly is that it takes a lot of sugar.  I also have persimmons that I mash and freeze for persimmon pudding. 

We were talking the other night about how much work goes into dealing with all the produce.  If we would sit down and add up all the cost, it probably is much more costly to grow and preserve the produce instead of just buying prepared foods at a grocery store.  However, the quality and taste I think is better with home grown food.  Knowing how much it costs monetarily and the physical work involved contributes to the appreciation we have for the food.

When I get ready to prepare the food for canning, I pick out the best.  Beans have to be checked for bug bites; bad spots on fruit has to be cut away; some kernels on the ears of corn are not filled out completely so the good kernels are cut off and the rest of the cob thrown away.  Depending on what I am working on, I may use a pressure canner for raw vegetables, or cook the food before it is put into containers to freeze.  Fruit for jelly is peeled or chopped up, cooked, strained and then boiled with pectin and sugar before putting into jars to seal.  Each process is done carefully so that the best product is preserved and sealed until such time it will be open and used.

After another night of hours in the kitchen making jelly, I started thinking about how God is also into preserving. 

Giving Our Firstfruits

With the coming of spring and summer, we begin planning for the garden we will plant and I start anticipating that first tomato we will pull off the vine.  There is nothing like the taste of the first produce pulled from the garden.  The first meal fixed with fresh corn and green beans feels like a real feast.  Fried squash and okra can be a meal all by itself.  The later into the growing season it gets though, it’s not as welcomed.  The freezer is as full as I can get it, I’ve canned more than we need and it seems that no one within 50 miles needs another tomato.