We have a sort of Love/Hate relationship with our vegetable garden. We look forward to it, yet it makes us crazy. Kind of like raising kids. Here's a normal garden cycle for our family.
In the beginning, we plan for our vegetable garden. We talk about it, draw little maps, and research different growing methods. Should we use cages or poles? What kind of fertilizer? I love the planning stages.
Then there's the planting stage. We start some seeds indoors, we get the soil as ready as we can, and we just sort of jump in with both feet. We don't really know if our well-laid plans are going to work or not, but we plant with lots of hope.
The hardest part comes next. We watch, water, and wait. Some of our plans turn out even better than we thought, while others don't happen at all. The trick is in evaluating what went wrong, while at the same time, creating a Plan B. We water and tend, and do everything we can do to protect our little sprouts, but they are so fragile.
After several weeks, we know that the planting season is over, and what we have is what we've got. We settle in to make the most out of what has come up. If the pea plants never sprouted, this is when we decide to give the pumpkins more room.
Finally some of the early crops are ready to harvest, and as we pull bunches of lettuce and pods of sugar peas, we get very excited about the way things are starting to come together.
Mid summer is difficult. Yes, we get to pick tomatoes and zucchini and green beans, but soon that becomes sort of ho-hum, and we forget that this is the reason we started the garden in the first place. We tend to see the project as a lot of work, and we might as well pick some veggies while we're out there, rather than remembering every day the miracle of the garden, and looking for the opportunities to help it along.
In the early fall, comes the explosion of veggies. The big reward for our hours of time put in. Canning, eating, sharing. This is the big pay-off and BOY is it FUN!
And then, of course, we have to clear things out, evaluate, and we begin planning all over again. How can we do it better next time?
I love watching the growing cycle. I love the veggies! I love the family time! And I love the life metaphors that are there...
The challenges in my life, the stages of my faith, and then the grand cycle that is my turn on earth are all played out in the garden.