We have two gardens. This one…
The soil in our backyard is rich and black and loamy. Hubs has perfected his methods, adding just the right amount of compost, leaves and mulch in the fall. He uses succession planting and square foot gardening principles to get the most food out of our limited amount of space. This year, he’s even concocted “Compost Smoothies,” a blend of dit, water and organic kitchen scraps. I think my blender is forever ruined… Over the span of five years, his diligent efforts have resulted in a fertile, well-maintained garden that produces about 40% of the vegetables we eat each year.
This year, we were blessed with the opportunity to expand the garden. Hubs jumped ast the chance–especially since every.single.seed he started under grow lights resulted in a thriving plant! That’d be something like 900 plants, folks. Really, it was obscene how much we had growing in our basement at one time! After getting our home garden started and well underway, we turned our focus to the second garden. Our friends had maintained a garden in a specific location in previous years, so we thought it best to use that same area and expand around its’ perimeter.
From the first day, things were much harder at garden #2. The ground was covered in grass and wild onions. The soil was highly compacted and hard to till. Then, the tiller gave out. We had to dig clumps of grass out by hand, using rakes and hoes to try to break up the soil. It was hard, dirty work. And, honestly, a little discouraging. We were used to our home garden, where the conditions are easy and familiar.
A friend offered to bring his tiller over and finish turning over the soil for us…a welcome offer, since our tiller was on the fritz. After he finished, we broke up the remaining dirt clods and came up with a plan for laying out the specific vegetable beds. Hubs had noticed a neighbor was storing a dozen bags of leaf mulch on the edge of his property and offered to make use of it. We spread the leaf mulch over the entire garden and let the rain and sun do the rest.
Meanwhile, Hubs carefully planned the beds for garden #2 and began selecting plants to go in each one. After a couple of days of hot, sweaty labor, he had planted six beds of veggies and rigged a frame for green beans to climb. Pleased with his work and grateful for the opportunity to grow more food, we sat back expecting the garden to take off.
Some of the plants are doing well. Some have been eaten by rabbits. Some have just died. Clearly, garden #2 is going to need some TLC!
At first, we felt frustrated and discouraged. We were doing all the “right” things and using the same methods that work well for us at home. But, the difference is that our home garden has benefited from years of careful tending and preparation. Garden #2 has not. The soil needs to be built up, prepared, fed, cared for. We will have a harvest from garden #2, but it will take a good deal more effort. And, if we are blessed with the opportunity to garden there again next year, the soil will be richer, easier to turn over, healthier. The harvest will be easier to bring in.
Working in our two gardens over the last month, I have thought about the garden of my own heart…what is its condition? Is it well-tended, free from disease and pest, easy to plant in, yielding a harvest? Or, is it hard, difficult to turn over, weedy, stubborn?
If I’m being totally honest, my heart has both kinds of gardens. When I choose quick obedience, my heart bears good fruit. Sin is quickly and easily weeded out and the seed of God’s Word grows well. But, when I am disobedient, lazy, self-centered…my heart becomes hard as a rock, bearing little to no fruit. I want to have an obedient heart, a fruitful heart…a heart well-tended by the Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit.
The encouraging thing about our gardens is that both will have a harvest. The harvest from garden #2 may be harder to come by…but still worth it. The same is true of me (and you, dear friend!). Even if my heart is hardened, even if I have willfully chosen sin, God can still bring about a harvest in my heart. Isn’t that a relief to know that God doesn’t give up on us?!?! I am so glad for that! Our God is so in love with us that He can’t help but continue to work the soil of our hearts…preparing, planting, weeding, reaping. He knows the potential harvest of our hearts and longs to bear fruit through us.
Lord, thank You for our two gardens. Thank You for our generous friends. Thank You that You never give up on any of us. Thank You for changing my heart so that I can bear fruit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.