Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Long?

Each day, with the heat so early stealing the joy of being in the garden, my mind has turned to plans for the next season.  I’m reading and re-reading gardening books like a woman needy and alone might read novels of romance and rescue.

When the rains return, I will plant my garden in a new design; I will plant with the idea of beauty as well as produce; I will try new seed varieties. I daydream.

When the rains return…
            And I yearn for the beauty and bounty of the past.

I would grow squash just for their beauty.

An overview of years past

Raised bed last year

sweet potatoes mingle with the squash and basil goes to seed
How long, Lord? How long until the rain comes, until Your promises of Joel 2 is our reality.

I wondered who and why people in the scripture asked, “How long?” It’s a common question found in 25 books. God asks the question of us, and we ask of Him. 

But surprisingly to me, God asks us, “How long?” as often as we ask Him.
How long will you refuse to humble yourself, to believe in Me in spite of the miracles I perform, to keep My commands? How long will you treat Me with contempt, will you waver between two opinions, will you turn My glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

Jesus asks, “Unbelieving generation, how long will I stay with you?”

When Jeremiah asked God how long will the land lie parched, and the grass in every field be withered? …”

God answered, “If you have run with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?”  Jer. 12:4-6

In other words, “If you can’t trust me now, what are you going to do when things get worse?”

I don’t know if our weather, our economy, or our political chaos will worsen.  

What I do know is that I must plant my heart deep in the response, “I trust You beyond my understanding, my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Provider.”

And I return to my books and my daydreams of taking care of my little plot of land better with more beauty and more produce.

One of my favorite books is “The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe. She describes every detail of gardening with an obvious love for the earth and the plants and a respect for both nature and the gardener.
The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times                                        
She begins by elaborating on our uncertain times, from climate change or economic necessity, to health or time restraints. Then she moves quickly into the 33 Golden Rules of Gardening. These include support, experiment, and notice everything, giving us such inviting detail that every rule becomes a means to a satisfying experience.

The chapter, Labor and Exercise is about designing and organizing our gardening to encourage healthful exercise while at the same time minimizing total work, meaning unnecessary, inefficient, ‘unfun’ work, and the probability of injury.

Soil and Fertility offers not only the usual discussion about using legumes to fix
 nitrogen in the soil, but times when that doesn’t make sense. She offers many alternatives and lists ways to avoid wasting fertility. One subtitle is On Not Buying, with help on evaluating exactly what you need.

When reading her descriptions of the right potato or squash or bean, you’re mouth is watering for those tastes. Did you know there are pop-beans not only popcorn?

This book gives beginning gardeners a strong foundation and seasoned gardeners will relish it for all the extras they will glean.

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed SavingBreed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed Saving is another book I'm anxious to read by Carol Deppe.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

When God Gives You Rinds, Make Pickles!

My volunteer watermelon vines produced wonderful fruit with a variety of different sizes. One was 29.8 lbs.  I just call it a “30 pounder.”

  Even this heat-loving plant didn’t produce as many melons as I would have expected. Since they volunteered from last year’s volunteers, I have no idea what kind they are. When I opened them I was disappointed at how thick the white rind was.

It would have been perfect if I wanted to make “Watermelon Rind Pickles.” I didn’t consider it with the first harvest. Now I might.: 

Pickled Watermelon Rind
1 6-lb watermelon
6 c water
2 Tbs sea salt, divided
1 tsp pickling spice
3 1/3-inch slices fresh ginger
2 whole clove
2 whole allspice
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 1/4 c sugar
1 c white vinegar
Peel outer green layer from watermelon rind.
Cut rind into 1/2-inch pieces. Bring water and 5 tsp. salt to boil in large saucepan.
Add rind. Reduce heat and simmer 15 min. or until crisp-tender.
Drain rind and place in large bowl.
Tie up spices in cheesecloth and place in a saucepan.
Add 1 tsp salt, sugar and vinegar; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Pour hot vinegar mixture over rinds. Cool to room temp. Cover and chill 12 hours.
Strain liquid from rind mixture and bring to a boil.
Return rind pieces and spice bag to room-temp bowl and pour boiled liquid over them
Chill at least 8 hours before serving.
Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.----from Joanne Cheshier

I’m chagrined to realize how I’ve evaluated this gift from God.
I did nothing to make them grow except identify the vine and not pull it up. I’ve gotten five watermelons staggered so that we can eat and share before the next one must be harvested. And I’m bemoaning the size of the rind?!

I think I need to re-read my Bible, especially the part about learning to be content in all circumstances. (Philippians 4:11)