Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Friday, June 19, 2009

Perfection Is Overstated

Right: The watermelon, are climbing up, over, and through the garden fence, reaching across the path toward the outer chain link fence. Lord knows where they will run to if they get through the chain link with a whole field out in front of them!

The watermelon are also getting chummy with the yellow squash.

The beautiful, leafy tendrils of the melon plants have been slithering quietly through the squash and are now reaching for the eggplant and okra!

Below: Beautiful little watermelons are starting to show among the leaves. With 9 watermelon plants, I anticipate at least a dozen melons to share with family during this hot Georgia summer.

More than that would be an added blessing that I can share with others as well.

The tomatoes have been allowed to grow uncaged and unchecked only because of time and weather. Too many appointments away from home, and climbing temperatures prevented us from getting cages up early when we should have.
Once the weather turned hot and the temperatures climbed into the 90s, I refused to
work outside during the day. Even in the evening the heat is still oppressive. So I rise just before dawn every day and put in two hours outside, feeding the chickens and watering the gardens before the sun comes full up and the temperature rises above 75.

Above: The sprawling tomato plants have completely overwhelmed a whole row of peppers.

Below: This morning, John joined me in the garden to work on getting the tomatoes up off the ground. They had been doing okay, but a strong wind came through the other night and blew them all to the ground, even those that were caged. The tomatoes aren't really coming in yet. Just one here and there. I anticipate a huge harvest all at once at some point.

Below: The eggplant and okra are growing nicely. We've harvested only two eggplant so far, but there are many small fruit developing. No okra yet either, but we hope for a lot. This is our third attempt at growing okra, and I hope there will be enough to harvest and freeze for winter soups.

Below: Baby Ichiban eggplant. John loves growing eggplant, but I've yet to find a recipe for this vegetable that we both can enjoy.

Below: I've never grown pumpkin before, so it is delightful to see beautiful young Buttercup pumpkins establishing themselves beneath the gorgeous giant leaves. Since John and I are diabetics, I try to avoid sweets. So I'm looking for savory recipes for the pumpkin and the other vining squash I'm growing.

Shortly after we married five years ago, John's health, which was already challenged, began getting worse. His declining health interfered significantly with his ability to earn a living, and our financial struggles began in earnest. We thank God that two years ago he started receiving excellent care at the VA (Veterans Administration), and his health since has improved significantly. He's picking up a little work here and there now, but spends much of his time trying to catch up on the things that have been put off around the farm.

Growing a garden has been very important to us financially. In years past, it has often been difficult for us to afford the plants to work with, and production in previous years was never what it should have been. This year we took a deep breath and "created" a little more financial flexibility, so we could have chickens and expand our gardening efforts. I'm also learning to grow plants from seed,which will help cut the cost of growing significantly, and I'm already planning our fall/winter garden.

Our garden, and our gardening efforts are far from perfect with everything sprawling across the garden bed, and our health issues a significant deterrent at times; but I want to say how pleased I am to see the garden flourishing anyway this year, with the promise of a large healthy harvest. I have the hope of filling our freezer and pantry with enough to carry us through the winter so we won't have to pay outrageous prices in the grocery store or go without certain foods we love.

The American economy right now is in a precarious place, and things are still looking rocky for the near future. After this recession ends, a new era of inflation will begin. The price of goods and services will rise sharply, and our president's multi-trillion dollar spending plan for "fixes" is going see all of us paying more taxes (income, sales, and embedded). It may all become more than John and I can afford on our limited income if he doesn't get more work.

We're doing all that we can to stay ahead of our circumstances, but it isn't easy. Everything is on the line for us, and it gets to us sometimes. We argue under the stress, and my own health has been suffering, but when we catch our breath, John and I hold on to each other and reassert our love for one another. And we pray. We lay all of this, good and bad, at the feet of God, and we put our trust in Him. He has a plan for our lives that we are doing our best to discern and follow. It doesn't have to be a perfect plan, but then, with God designing it, it is a perfect plan for us.

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