Fall is the season for fresh fruits and veggies from your garden. Cade and I both grew up with parents that gardened and stored produce by canning. Both our mothers still can today.
We are lucky enough to have an extremely large garden space in our backyard. It’s probably the largest garden space we will ever have in our lives. Our next door neighbor is the bishop of the family ward we just started going to. He is also a MASTER gardener. For the last 2 years, we’ve admired his garden. This year we decided to actually do something with our garden space.
We only planted about 1/8 of the garden because we just knew we couldn’t maintain the whole thing. We knew we were going to be faced with two difficult challenges:
1- In the middle of our block is a mini “forest” were residential deer live. Bishop has electrical fences plus 9 foot high fences around his garden to keep them out. We knew we didn’t have the time and money to go to such measures. We heard about a way to keep the deer out involving fishing line wrapped around T-posts. That was our way of building a poor man’s fence.
2- The second problem is one we always seem to face: time. I knew gardening with little 6-month-old Cooper was going to be a challenge. Normally, Cade and I could take turns watching Cooper, but Cade was studying for the MCAT/ doing med school application stuff all summer. It was going to basically have to be me doing it.
Well, I was able to keep things pretty well watered, but I went a few weeks without pulling weeds and when I finally went out to weed, the garden was literally a forest of weeds! I did one rows worth and then it just became too overwhelming. I kind of gave up.
We mostly forgot about the garden except for an occasional watering. I was hoping to at least get some green beans out of it, but the “fence” didn’t work and the deer got in and ate those right up. I realized a few weeks ago that there were still potato plants though! The tops had been nibbled off so I knew the potatoes probably wouldn’t be that big, but we still wanted to dig up our fall “harvest”.
It was awesome! We actually got about 30 potatoes. Mind you they were all about the size of a marble, but it was still awesome! I was amazed that we still got something even though we basically did nothing to maintain our garden.
That was Thursday. Yesterday (Friday), I had Benedicte over to pick grapes with me. There is a grapevine in our backyard that Bishop usually uses to can grape juice. This year though he had a few other sources for grapes and wasn’t going to use our vine, so we offered to do it. HOLY COW! I had NOOOO idea how many grapes could grow on one vine. Just when you think you’ve cleared out an area you look underneath the leaves and there are hundreds more. It’s so fun! We are going to have so much grape juice!
Bishop came out to his garden while we were picking and started harvesting his potatoes. He offered for us to come over and take some home. Now Bishop’s garden is literally a few feet away from ours. Same soil. Same water. Same amount of sun. But those potatoes… biggest potatoes I’ve EVER seen. Some were about the size of my head! And he had four long rows of them!
What was the difference? Well, it’s pretty obvious. He maintained his garden through the summer. He went out and weeded every night so the weeds never got too overwhelming or too big. He didn’t go away on long vacations and leave his garden to not be taken care of. He put up the fences to keep the critters out. He prepped his soil in the spring with fertilizer. Every day when he came home from work he did just a little in his garden. He didn’t go check on once or twice a month.
From maintaining his garden ever day he now has one of the most successful gardens I’ve ever seen. Now he is still maintaining his produce. Nearly every night in Sept./Oct. he and his family can their produce: canned tomato soup, canned diced tomatoes, canned pasta sauce, canned apple cider, canned grape juice, canned corn, canned beans, etc. He also has a root cellar to keep all of his potatoes in. He covers the carrots with leaves when it gets cold and harvests them during the winter.
He saves thousands of dollars on groceries. They make their own bread, so all they really need to buy is dairy products. It’s amazing! He also has the freedom to give to others and he does! Many people from the ward come over and help pick and take produce home. He finds so much joy from it.
The Lord intends for us to till the earth. In Moses Chapter 5 it says:
And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.
Talking to Bishop has really helped me realized the importance of being self-reliant. I’m going to can grape juice today. I’ve only done it once with my mom when I was little, so I’m excited to try doing it on my own. It brings a lot of joy to be able to provide for yourself.
I listened to a podcast about maintenance yesterday which was funny timing. They discussed how in America we are all about the next big thing. But we have a hard time with maintenance. Not only maintaining technology, cars, and our homes, but just our lives in general. Maintaining is never focused on or celebrated, but it is how must successful people spend their time. Frank spends a lot of time maintaining his family’s cars. Traci spends a lot of time maintaining a clean house. My dad spends a lot of time maintaining his health. My mom spends a lot of time maintaining relationships.
The most important thing about maintaining is doing a little bit every day. It can’t just be giving 5 hours to a project every month. It’s too overwhelming if you aren’t doing a little bit every day. Some things that we need to be better and consistently maintaining are:
- Gospel Study
A little bit of maintenance every day will go a long way.