Glory in the Garden: 31 Days of Devotionals – FREE Download

Glory in the Garden Cover

If you stay up until 4:30 a.m., and then get up at 6 a.m., does that count as an all-nighter? Even in my college days I never pulled an all-nighter so this was new to me. Now before you think I’m just highly motivated, I must confess I just happen to be on prednisone – steroids – at the moment and since I couldn’t sleep I figured I’d try to knock all of this out.

And it’s DONE!
I can hardly believe it!

My e-subscribers will receive a free download of Glory in the Garden. (Not Subscribed? It’s free and quick. Click here to subscribe and your copy will be on its way!) When you subscribe, you’ll be sent multiple download options. I’ll also have paperback books available in a few weeks. All of those details are in the email I’ll send with your free download. Oh, and don’t wait. This free download will only be available through December 21st.

I can already see you now. The fire is going, you have coffee in your hand, the Christmas tree lights are twinkling, and you’ll be reading this book, dreaming about gardening – whether you garden or not. But most of all I hope you’ll be inspired. I hope you’ll see familiar Scripture passages in ways you never have before. I hope you’ll be challenged and encouraged in your personal walk with God and your ministry to others wherever you are. God spoke to me in the garden. My prayer is that he’ll speak to you.

It’s HERE!!
Glory in the Garden: 31 Days of Devotionals
FREE e-version for e-mail subscribers!

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Click the link above to receive your free download of Glory in the Garden!
*The paperback version will also be available – a great Christmas gift!*

 

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Why I’m Having to Take a Writing Break

Do you have any idea what it is like for a writer to have multiple thoughts swimming in the mind, unable to be penned?

Torture, mind you, torture.

I’ve got some good ones that have come out of circumstances of late: spiritual warfare, intercession, Christian unity, the cost of following Jesus, investing in others…. And they’re good. (Admittedly they’re always better in my head than on paper it seems.)

But I have had to take a break because, well, the garden. I should know by now.  With the harvest, canning, freezing, and drying on top of two children’s birthdays, back to school, starting preschool with Alyssa…August should be my writing Sabbath. Not that I’m resting, mind you.

But I thank God every day for a garden that is producing and the physical strength equal to my harvesting and preserving tasks. And I’m thankful for Matt’s new photography hobby so he can capture some of these special memories.

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Above: Breaded okra for freezing, basil pesto for freezing, banana peppers, green beans, okra pickles, black-eyed peas, sweet pickle relish

 

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My Garden in Photos – May 9 Update

It has been about a month since I posted a garden update so I thought I’d update you on my growing garden!  I couldn’t be more excited about it!

Below are my potatoes that came right back up after the freeze knocked them out.  Unfortunately the Colorado Potato Beetles are out early this year but I’m trying to stay on top of the little boogers.

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Next are my pole beans that are about to start climbing the strings on the trellis Matt made for me. I planted two types: Kentucky Wonder and Blue lake.  The Kentucky Wonder came up fast and strong. The Blue Lake came up slowly and sparsely.  I may have to replant that row if they don’t show improvement after this latest rain.

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My broccoli and Better Boy tomato garden is growing great! All of my broccoli have heads forming but the ones I planted later are very small.

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Blueberries!  I can’t wait!  The freeze, though I covered them, got several of the blossoms on each plant but thankfully I think I’ll still have a plentiful harvest.

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This is my hodgepodge raised bed.  In the middle is rosemary, on each side of that is broccoli (look closely and you can see the heads!), below the trellis are cucumber seedlings, on the upper right side is oregano and thyme, and the whole bed is filled with dill from last year’s seeds.

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I felt the center of a cabbage plant last week and exclaimed aloud, “I can feel the head!” It was at that moment I realized that growing a garden isn’t all that different from giving birth. 🙂  My spinach did remarkably well, but now it’s beginning to go to seed with the warm weather.

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Underneath my trellises I planted carrots, hoping that the growth of the beans in the summer will shade this cool weather root crop. Carrots grow extremely slow so I’m finally seeing them after 2 months!

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This is a wide shot of one of my beds. In the front of the trellises I planted black-eyed peas, bush beans, and okra.  Behind the trellises are potatoes and onions.

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Can you tell we’re having salad A LOT right now?  On the left is romaine lettuce, and on the right are Bibb and Buttercrunch.  Behind the lettuces are peas and cilantro.

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My climbing peas are finally beginning to bloom and set pods! I’ve got a couple of devotionals written about this new crop in my Glory in the Garden ebook that will be available this summer. 🙂

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This is my pepper garden. I have bell, banana, and jalapeno.

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The Roma tomato plants are looking healthy!

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It’s strawberry season! My kids are going out every day hoping to find a ripe red one. They are delicious!!  Also, the garlic are growing amazingly well.  Can’t wait to see what they look like.

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I’ve also got squash, zucchini, watermelon, and cantaloupe planted.  The corn never sprouted so I gave up on that.  Hopefully the recent rain will help jump-start much of the summer crops.

My favorite thing to do is walk in my garden. Just yesterday I took the umbrella out at dusk and just admired it all.  So peaceful.

My Garden in Photos: April 12th Update

Today could not have been a more perfect gardening day.  Perfect temperature, light breeze, some shade.  Today was spent planting pole beans, corn, and cucumbers as well as preparing the ground for more tomatoes and other crops.  This week’s photos show even more growth!

Cabbage and Spinach: I picked my first spinach this week to use in Gouda and Spinach stuffed pork chops. Yum!  The cabbage are growing beautifully with such deep green leaves.

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Potatoes: Almost all of my potatoes are now emerging, with this photo showing the ones with the best growth.

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Garlic and Strawberries: The garlic are growing taller and taller, and the strawberries are beginning to put on flowers.  These are all second or third year strawberries so I’ve got high hopes!

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Tomatoes and Broccoli: The first photo are my Romas, which are growing very well, although it’s hard to see from this photo. I also planted Better Boy tomatoes between my broccoli rows (second photo).  The broccoli are really starting to grow. I’m hoping I’ll get some good broccoli before they bolt like they did last year when the weather got too hot in May.

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Peas: The peas are growing well, but I hope they start producing before it gets too hot.

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Here is a photo of the trellises that Matt built for me.  On the right side are my peas. On the left side I planted pole beans.

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Herbs: I can’t tell you how excited I am about my herbs!  The middle plant is a multitude of oregano that self-seeded from last year.  To its right is thyme that survived the winter.  At the top left is rosemary that barely made it through the winter and is now producing new growth.  I also have dozens of dill plants that self-seeded from last year and a few cilantro plants.  I’ve decided that herbs are the easiest to grow after the first year because they grow themselves!

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Blackberry: All of my berry plants are growing vigorously, but this blackberry bush is the best by far.  I’m looking forward to a summer full of berries!

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My Garden in Photos – April 5th Update

This week has been a week of growth!  I’ve been amazed at the difference I’ve seen in many plans each day.  I’ve also done some decorating, as you’ll see.  The sign below says, “Happiness Grows in My Garden.” 🙂

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Below are photos of cabbage and spinach compared to last week.  The rains really helped them!

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Blackberry this week and last week:

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The blueberry bushes began putting on leaves almost overnight! Here is my pink lemonade blueberry bush this week and last week:

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The peas also began to grow and pop up tremendously this week compared to last week, when I just had a few:

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In new developments, my potatoes have finally broken ground!  I love growing potatoes! They might just be my favorite.

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Last weekend I bought some Roma tomatoes at Blossomberry nursery in Clarksville. They were beautiful and healthy. I know it is really too early to plant tomatoes, but with the warm weather this week I thought I’d try so they could get established before the colder weather returned.  I planted one set and am keeping the other set indoors on cold nights. We’ll see how the growth of the two will compare.

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And I couldn’t help but share my very first flowers. I’d never planted bulbs before and I have been thrilled with my jonquils and tulips!

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My Garden in Photos – March 29th Update

It’s garden season again!  I’m so excited to be back outside in the warm sun and cool breezes of spring.  I took my first garden photos on March 15th and again today, March 29th.  I’m at the very early stages, but it’s fun to see the progress already. The photos that are side by side are photos from March 15th compared to today.

Blackberries and Raspberries

My goal is to add at least one new crop each year. This year I’ve added two: blackberries and raspberries.  It’s hard to see from the pictures below because they are just beginning to grow, but the new shoots have emerged significantly in just two weeks.

Below: Navajo Blackberry

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Below: Raspberry

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Below: Arapaho Blackberry

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Below: Raspberry

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Cabbage:

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Spinach:

I have had horrible luck with spinach the past two years, so I’m really excited that I’m actually seeing growth this time!

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Below is an overhead view of my cabbage on the left and spinach on the right:

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Blueberries:

These are my second-year plants. I’ve been amazed by the vertical growth over the winter, and they are just beginning to produce new growth. Maybe this year I’ll have more than a cupful after Alyssa eats her fill off the bushes. 🙂   The varieties I have are Climax, Tifblue, Pink Lemonade, and Brightwell. These are photos I took today. There were no blooms two weeks ago.

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Broccoli:

I’m sad to report that rabbits ate my first batch of broccoli I planted two weeks ago.  This is my second try.

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Onions:

I planted onions about 5 weeks ago. The cold snaps and snow didn’t help their growth, but they’re coming back.

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Oregano:

Either my oregano from last year survived or it self-seeded. Either way, I’ve got some beautiful oregano in the garden already, with no effort!

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Garlic and Strawberries:

I planted garlic cloves last November and now that the days are getting longer and warmer, they are growing really tall. This is exciting since I’ve never planted garlic before.  I planted them in my strawberry bed, and in just the last week the strawberries have begun to come to life.  Very exciting!

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Peas:

This is my first year to try peas. They’ve been in the ground for three weeks and I was wondering if they were ever going to sprout.  In just this past week they’ve come up and begun to grow quickly.

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In the next few weeks I’ll be planning and planting my early summer crops: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, corn, and beans.  Later in the spring I’ll add peppers, okra, watermelon, black-eyed peas, and cantaloupe.  I’ve also begun to plant from seed several herbs: chives, sage, mint, spearmint, basil, cilantro, stevia, and dill.

Potatoes: Easy and Fun! [Garden Planning Blog]

 

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It took a couple of tries to get my potatoes right, but once I did, they were one of my favorite crops to grow and harvest.  They were also my kids’ favorites because Drew and Alyssa had so much fun digging for them!  I’m definitely doing potatoes again and expanding to do more.

My first try: fail

Last spring we had an incredibly wet and cold spring.  Ideally, from what I read, potatoes should be planted between February 14 – March 1 here in Arkansas.  My problem was the soil simply wouldn’t dry out.  I decided to plant them anyway in late March, but because the soil was so wet, they rotted in the ground.

After this, Matt ended up tilling a new garden in a better-drained area of the yard where I tried again.  This time, it worked perfectly.

Garden Log

4/16/13: planted 15 Yukon Gold potato pieces
5/9/13: 10 plants emerged (followed later by the other 5)
6/1/13: flower buds emerged
7/5/13: harvested tennis-ball sized potatoes

8/2/13: planted Red Norland potatoes and Kennebec (white) potatoes left over from failed spring planting, and planted small Yukon gold potatoes from spring harvest
11/20/13: harvested mostly red potatoes

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Garden notes

I believe my potatoes did really well because I ended up planting them in a well-drained location and the acidity of my soil is so low.  (A soil test yielded a pH of 4.9, and potatoes thrive at 5-6.)

Pests

The Colorado Potato beetle showed up early in the season when the plants were about 1′ high. These yellow and black striped bugs were easy to spot.  I diligently picked them off one by one and fed them to the chickens, though they still were able to lay their eggs. The eggs are bright yellow clusters on the underside of the leaves, and I took care of those by squishing them (with garden gloves on, of course!).  Later into the season I simply wasn’t able to keep up with the egg-squishing and the eggs would hatch into tiny red bugs.  It was these baby beetles that wreaked the most havoc on the plant.  The adults did little damage compared to their progeny.  I tried Sevin dust but it really didn’t help and I wanted to keep my garden as close to organic as possible.  I tried diatomaceous earth, too, but that didn’t help.  This year I will simply work to be more diligent at hand-picking the adults and eggs, and the kids will help. They loved spotting the beetles and the eggs.

My fall planting did not have any problems with the Colorado Potato beetle, so the fall was the easiest crop by far in that respect.

For the beginner

Planting the potato pieces are easy.  Always buy them at a garden center, as the ones at the store are sprayed with an anti-sprouting agent.  Cut the pieces with at least two eyes on each piece.  Make sure the soil is loose (by tilling or hoeing), and place the pieces eye-side-up about 4″ deep.  Cover with soil, and do not water until the plants emerge a couple of weeks later.

Next, do an Internet search on what an emerging potato plant looks like.  I tried to unsuccessfully pull one up, thinking it was a weed!  Then I decided it might be a potato plant, and it was!  When the plant is about 6″ high, take a hoe and “hill” dirt around the plant.  Then add mulch to conserve moisture as the plant is growing.

Water until the plant flowers, and after that it doesn’t need much water.  Once the plant flowers, the tubers (future potatoes) start to form.  You know the potatoes are ready to be dug up when the plants start to die back.

How many to plant

Each of my plants produced about 4 potatoes, some smaller, some larger, and I liked that I didn’t have to harvest them all at once, meaning I was able to have fresh potatoes for weeks.  From what I’ve read, the plants should have produced more than that. I think I should have been more diligent about watering my potatoes between sprouting and flowering, and the soil wasn’t all that fertile.  But for my first time, I was extremely pleased.

Spring plans

My plans for spring are to plant the potatoes in the new extension to my previous garden in an area where nothing has grown before.  During the winter, we have been spreading manure from the chicken coop on this area to improve the nitrogen content, which potatoes need.

The Yukon Gold was a delicious variety, but we enjoyed the red potatoes, too.  I think I’m going to do a mix of Yukon Gold, Red Norland, and Kennebec varieties, with more Yukon Gold.  I’ll probably do between 20-30 plants in the spring and hopefully that many in the fall to keep us in potatoes for a longer period of time.

I haven’t found any gardening centers in my area that sell potatoes in the fall, so I will just keep any extras from the ones I purchase in the spring in the refrigerator until fall.  I will also save some of the smaller potatoes from the spring harvest and replant them for the fall harvest, keeping them in the refrigerator in between. (Keeping them in the refrigerator simulates the winter dormant period needed for growth, from what I’ve read.)

Have you ever planted potatoes?  What has been your experience?