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These pictures were taken about 4 weeks ago.  I’ll try to take a few this week and post them up so you can see the progress

This is what I started with.  I divided the space and set in some brick for a path.

And after (mostly) everything was planted.

It looks pretty pitiful in the pictures.  I’ll have to get some current pictures up.

This morning I had a date with my garden that was long overdue.  Weeds were becoming more abundant that the veggies that I have in there, so it was time to take care of that.  I made myself some coffee, grabbed my weeding, hand tool and hoe, and went to work.

I started with the onions.  Onions don’t like weeds; they’re sissies, really.  Weeds create a kind of competition that the onion bulbs don’t do well with.  The maturing bulbs need their space, so it is important to help them as best as you can.  I had put some grass clippings down as mulch and that has seemed to help, but there were a few stubborn weeds that needed to be “tied together in bundles and thrown into the fire that will not be quenched.”  This weeding needs to be done by hand.  The onions are too close together to use the hoe, and again, disturbing the soil around the bulbs isn’t a good thing.  The radishes and carrots (when the sprout) will need to be weeded the same way.

The rest of the garden can handle being weeded with a hoe.  It’s fairly simple.  Occasionally I would see a weed that was too close to the plant, so I would need to pull it by hand.

I think I’m getting a hang of this whole gardening thing.  I’m starting to see some fruiting on a few of the tomatoes, cukes, summer squash, and peppers.  That’s really encouraging.  The string beens and soya beens are growing.  The broccoli is huge, but I can’t see any heads yet.  The onions are standing strong.  I do have a few concerns, though.   I’m not seeing very much growth with the honey dew melons.  Also, the cauliflower isn’t quite forming its head yet.  The okra seedlings are very slow growing.  I think the might need warmer weather then we’ve been having.  Maybe I’ll make a little cloche to add some heat.  Although since okra is a southern plant, it might just wait till it’s good and ready to start going.  I think that one, if not two of the tomato plants are not going to make it.  It’s bad enough to loose a tomato plant, but to add insult to injury the Pink Caspian (which I’m certain wont make it) is the plant that brought me all of my flea beetle problems.

There’s a garden update for you. The next post should be some pictures.

I did it. I finally unsubscribed from Slice of Laodicea. If you don’t know what it is, you are better off my friend. It has been like a drug for me. Every day, for far too long, I have read about all of the crap that they post. I have read, been disgusted, and secretly hope for more.  I know that even mentioning this might cause some of you to search for what I’m talking about and get hooked yourself.  I am warning you:  Be very careful.  Highly addicting, and horribly harmful.

In my struggles I was glad to see that Bob Hyatt struggles with it too.

There is an huge aspect of my life that I haven’t blogged about for quite some time. It is, after all, a significant part of my life. I find myself struggling through this aspect more then any other aspect in my life.

I’m speaking about church. I do mean both the people and the building.

Since Lauren and I moved up to Fort Collins last month many good intentioned people have asked me if we have found a church to go to. My quick, polite answer usually goes something like, “well, we haven’t had a whole lot of time since moving in. We’ll get around to look here pretty soon.” What I really want to say goes something like, “I hate church shopping. You get four chances a month to see if a church is the right fit for you and there is no way I can feel certain about one church in one visit. I understand that you are referring to a building when you ask me if we have found a church to go to and I understand that you are well intentioned, but I’m not looking for a building to do time in once a week. I want to be involved in a group of people who struggle their way through living out what Jesus taught. I want to be steeped in “deep church” that sinks into the core of my being. If I have to go to one more consumer-driven, pop-psychology, Jesus wants you to be rich by giving us money, look at how great our light show is, our worship team can kick your worship teams ass, our youth ministry is so relevant, you better get out there and save some souls kind of church I think I might puke.”

I usually stick to the more polite reply.

Anyways, I was thinking about the process of finding a church to attend/belong to/join/be a part of (you pick the phrase) and I realized that this will be a new process for me for two main reasons.

1. This will be the first time that I am not looking for a church for me alone. Lauren and I will need to come to an agreement about a church. This will be a different experience for us. When we met I was working for a church and she was checking it out. It made sense that we went to that church while I was working there, even though we struggled through a lot of what was going on there. When we made the transition into the house church we met at our house. This had its ups and downs, but this is neither the time or the place to go into all of that.

We both have come from different church backgrounds and have walked different spiritual paths. I think that we are looking for similar core elements of a church (mainly the people), but we might struggle to find a church that lives that out the same way. Also, we are both still in different phases of being very critical of “church” and I think that regardless of where we visit we will find things that we don’t like. My prayer has been that God will help us look past insignificant criticisms and find a group of people who are seeking after God in an honest way.

2. I am going to try to view our church visits not as opportunities for me to jump back into ministry, but as a chance for me to join in with what is already going on. I don’t want to find my own way back into ministry. I want to be patient to see if God brings me back to that place. This might be a more difficult thing than find a church that both Lauren and I want to be a part of. I am certain that I am in a period of waiting for God to direct me. I don’t want to jump the gun and just be looking for a church that “needs my help.” I believe that this time away from ministry is the healthiest thing for me right now, and I need to use the time well. When/if God draws me back into ministry I would like to have a fresh perspective about it, and not try to recycle past convictions.

Today Lauren and I will be going to The Revolution. I’ll try to pen some thought about it later in the week.

There you go. Two challenges for church shopping. Thoughts? Concerns?

Ah, yes. The weekend. Two days to fill with all of the stuff you did not have enough time to do during the previous five days. Since we have moved into our house a few weeks ago, the weekends have felt like an continuation of the work week.

While I am capable of working seven days a week I am certain that it is not healthy. I have been trying to slow down and allow myself to rest. I believe that this is how we were created to be. So I have decided to create a short list of things to do this weekend rather than filling Saturday and Sunday with an endless amount of tasks.

So here’s what I have planned

I need to mulch around some parts of the garden and I might weed a bit while doing it.
Lauren and I will take a bike ride down to the Farmers Market on Drake Road.
I plan to read more of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Sex, Economy, Community and Freedom
I plan to do church with the Revolution Missional Community on Sunday afternoon. (more thoughts on this coming soon.)

That’s it. What about you? Big plans for the weekend? or low key and restful?

cheer

Sometimes, when I’m out poking around in the garden in the early morning, faith comes easily to me.

Sometimes, when I’m out poking around in the garden late in the day, I have my doubts.

Nine days ago I placed small seeds in row, covered them with two inches of soil and spoke a quick prayer. Each day, as I was out checking the garden, I would look to see if there were any signs of life for those beans. It can be a tense time, waiting for the seedlings to emerge. I found myself questioning whether or not I planted them at the right depth. I wondered if they were getting too much water. Or too little. I wondered if the seed would not germinate. Yesterday, though, I started to see signs of life. Small, quarter sized cracks in the soil. As if something was pushing up from below the surface. That’s exactly what was happening. This morning when I went out to water the garden I found a number of bean seedlings emerging from the hard soil.

Some of the seedlings were barely visible except for a small green stem poking though a crack of soil. Others had poked through and were almost ready to completely emerge. (They come up like an upside down “U” with the leaves still underground. It’s as if the stem is checking their surroundings to see if it is safe for the leaves to be exposed.) A few of the seedlings are fully emerged and standing tall.

It’s quite a relief to see the been growing, but I know that there is a long road ahead. Now that they are exposed, they are far more susceptible to insects, animals, and diseases. The again, the beans growing above the soil is the whole point of growing beans. You could never expect a harvest if the seedlings never emerged from the soil. Sure, there are only a small number of problems that they might face down there, but the seeds need to extend out of the soil. Yes, there are lots of potential problems, but if they do not take the risk of facing those problems, they will not mature.

At this point, I’m only interested in mature bean seeds. I would rather take my chances in learning how to prevent disease and insect attacks, then spend my time watching a “safer” patch of unbroken soil. I’ll spend the next 50 days wondering if I’ve chosen the right thing. But I’m sure that the moment that I can stand in the garden and snap a bean of of the plant and pop it right into my mouth, I will know I made the right choice.

peace.

[editor’s note:  Thank you to my lovely wife for pointing out my error.  Bean and “Been” are not the same  word.  Apparently I shouldn’t post anything before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.  I apologize for the  poor grammar.  I hope it didn’t bother anyone too much.  I’m a dork.]

I’m sure there will come a time when I will dread having a list of things to do, but for now I am enjoying it. I think I got a lot accomplished this weekend. At least I hope I did, I sure felt busy. One of the hard parts of living in the apartment was that I didn’t feel like I had room to move around in. I certainly didn’t have enough room to do any serious gardening with, and any woodworking was out of the question. Toward the end of our stay in the apartment I was going stir crazy. I could feel it; and I know Lauren felt it too. Living in the house, however, offers room to move, room to garden, and room to build. And that’s precisely what I did this weekend.

The most involved item on my to-do list was to build a coffee table for our living room. A few months ago I picked up a number of old, wooden window frames from a job site that I was working on. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew they would come in handy. Lauren hung two of them up in our living room, and we thought that if I could build a table out of another frame they would compliment each other. I thought it was a great idea, except for the fact that I hadn’t made any furniture before. Sure, I could hammer some legs onto a piece of plywood, but that wouldn’t be what we were looking for. I spent a good amount of time with a pencil and paper in hand trying to figure out the best approach to this. I went to Home Depot to pick up materials, then back home to get started. I looked at the materials and tools and felt pretty certain that I was in over my head. I spent, what felt like all day, in a trial-and-error mode only to end the day frustrated. The table wasn’t complete, and in fact, I had disassembled most of what I did have together. I knew that I needed to sleep on it, so I did.

Working on the table wasn’t all I did yesterday. I transplanted some raspberry plants into the back yard that our landlord had planted in a shady spot. I transplanted them next to the existing vegetable garden which will give the raspberries all the sun that they desire. I also planted some more cucumbers. I know what your thinking. “Steve, didn’t you already plant cucumbers? What are you going to do with all those cucumbers?” Well, since planting the garden, I’ve had to pull out a few of the cucumber transplants. You see, cucumbers don’t like to have their roots messed with. They do best if the seeds are sown directly into the ground that they will spend the whole season in. You can start the seeds indoors, but you must transplant the seeds before they get 5 weeks old. If you wait too long their roots become too established and they wont acclimate to the new soil. The cucumber transplants were very close to that 5 week mark, and I expected that some wouldn’t make it. So the seeds that I planted this weekend were to make up for the plants I had to pull out.

I also planted carrots and radishes. I wasn’t going to plant radishes, but I have heard from a number of people that the two vegetables pair well together because the radishes mature so much quicker than the carrots you can use them to mark the rows of carrots. Carrots send down a taproot before they sprout any leaves, and the process of sending the taproot can sometimes take up to 4 weeks. That means 4 weeks without seeing any growth above the surface. Radishes, on the other hand, can be harvested in 4 weeks. So the radishes will act as a border to my carrots and a reminder to me to not step there.

The garden is growing along, for the most part. I spent last week fighting flea beetles off of my tomatoes. More on that in a later post though.

I also planted two grape vines next to the shaky awning the landlord build over the back patio. We wanted to grow something up and over it to give us some shade during the day, and the fact that the grapes will produce a tasty snack is a bonus. This will be another experiment for me. I’ve never dealt with grapes before, but “How hard could it be?” (he says with a tilt of his head and a slight squinting of his eyes.) Around the whole I placed some red brick. I’d like to fill the middle with some rock to help retain moisture, but that will come at a later time.

The last project that I undertook this weekend was to redo the two compost bins. Our landlord has a plastic, fully contained bin and a cinder block, open structure. Both types of bins have strong benefits it they are used properly. The plastic bin, however was filled with mostly dead branches and dry garden waste. Left like this it will take years to decompose. The other bin was filled with rich black composted material. My plan was to empty the plastic bin and layer it correctly, so that it would do its thing most effectively. I layered some of the good composted material, shredded newspaper, some of the woody material, and some fresh kitchen waste. Watered it all down and sealed it off. Compost needs just three things: the correct material, moisture and heat.

That was my weekend. I stayed pretty busy, which was good, because Lauren was gone shooting a wedding. The more work I was focused on, the less my mind wandered to thinking about how much I was missing her. It’s a good thing she’s back, though, I was starting to talk to myself.

cheers.

I think I’m slowing down.
I think I’ve found time to think.
I think things are starting to make sense.

I was struck with the thought of these three statements this afternoon while driving to and from Home Depot. The first shift, slowing down, is most certainly the case for my driving. I realized that since Lauren and I have moved I haven’t felt the need to hurry everywhere. I find myself looking at my speedometer surprised that I’m going the speed limit. Not five or ten miles per hour over, the actual, posted speed limit. This is pretty substantial for me. I remember the feeling of rushing where ever I go, for no reason at all. I might have left the apartment with enough time to get where I needed to be, yet still felt the need to hurry, to rush, to speed everywhere. The ability to slow down has offered me the opportunity to think. When I choose to rush everywhere it affects all of who I am at that moment. When I’m speeding to get somewhere my only concern is with how I might get there quicker. Changing lanes to pass the car in front of me is par for the course. Running yellow lights is a common occurrence. Cursing under my breath becomes familiar. When I choose that mindset, my whole body becomes tense.

I have been feeling a sense of freedom in taking my time. A car changing lanes in front of me doesn’t mean that he or she is doing that to spite me. I have found freedom to think about things as I drive, listen to the radio, or even just enjoy the sounds around me.

What about you? Do you find yourself consumed with “getting there soon,” or can you just enjoy the ride.

It was Sunday night. I was overlooking the 200 sq. foot vegetable garden that my mom and I had just planted. Soy beens and string beens. Honey dew melons and cucumbers. Broccoli and cauliflower. Summer squash and zucchini. Onions and peppers. And eight different varieties of tomatoes. Oh, yeah. Okra. How could I forget the okra? It was all there. Carefully placed in just the right spot to utilize the space most effectively. I wanted to plant more, but I don’t have the room for it. I thought corn would be fun to try. I really like eggplant, but didn’t have the space. I would love to have a separate bed for pumpkins and gourds, but that’s not going to happen this year. After all, I only had 200 sq. feet to work with.

So there I was enjoying a peaceful moment of reflection when a thought crossed my mind. “I’m in way over my head!” After a few moments of stunned panic I was able to slow my thoughts down and think through exactly what was creating this worry in me. I had come up with three things.

1. I’ve never tended a garden for a whole season before. I’ve done my fair share of planing annuals and perennials. I’ve even planted more than my share of trees and shrubs. I have done enough weeding to last a lifetime. But I have never had a plot of land that is my own like I do now. As I was standing and looking at my garden I thought, “Well, now what?” I know that I’m not going to see things growing right before my eyes, so what am I supposed to do now? I know I’ll need to weed, but there aren’t any weeds right now. Do I put mulch down to suppress the weeds and hold in moisture now, or do I need to wait until the plants get established first? Am I supposed to fertilize everything? What kind of fertilizers should I use for each plant? Oh, crap! Are those bugs? What am I supposed to do about that? The questions continue to fill my mind.

2. I want to garden organically. I would feel very hypocritical if I stepped down from my “organic soapbox” just long enough to spray some Miracle-Gro on my veggies. I want to enjoy the sensation of eating a tomato directly from the plant. I cant wait to snap a bean off of the bush and pop it right into my mouth. I don’t want to have to worry about what chemicals I’m ingesting when ever I eat something. (I know that some of you don’t care or want to know about the chemicals on our foods, but since I’ve learned about it I couldn’t blindly go back down that road.) How do I go about “organic gardening?” I mean, what is organic anyways? Are “organic pesticides” any better than conventional ones?

3. I’m using mostly heirloom seeds and plants. This probably doesn’t mean much to any of you who don’t garden, so let me give you a short explanation. There are essentially two types of seeds used when growing anything, hybrid or open pollinated. Hybrid seed are seeds that are altered in a way that allow them to be disease resistant, have a shorter or longer growing season, have specific color or size traits, or any other number of specific things about the food it will produce. For instance, Red Delicious apples were hybridized to have a shiny red coating and that trademark shape, but because the hybrid focuses on the color and shape, the taste of the apple is bland. People buy Red Delicious apples because the apples look like what people think an apple should look like. The problem with hybrid seeds is that the offspring from the seeds will never be the same as the parent. So if I plant a “Super 100” variety of tomato and try to save the seeds to plant them again next year, the plants grown from the seeds of the hybridized tomato will not be the same tomato. Hybrid seeds beget worthless seeds. It is a way for the seed companies to patent their seeds. Open pollinated seeds, on the other hand, beget the same seeds. Open pollination is the natural process of plants. If you take the seeds from a “Black Krim” tomato and plant them the following year, you will have a new “Black Krim” tomato plant. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated seeds that have been carefully passed down from generation. By planting heirlooms I am joining myself to the generations of gardeners. I will be tasting the true flavor of a tomato that my great-great-great-grandparents enjoyed. The difficult part about choosing heirlooms rather than hybrids is that for the most part the open pollinated seeds offer little disease resistance. Hybrid seeds are bred to fight against the more common plant diseases, and I opted against that little extra help.

A few days have past and I’ve been able to calm down a bit. I am still trying to figure out what to do about the flea beetles that are after my tomatoes, but I feel better about my options. The thing that is increasingly reassuring to me is that I am finding a wonderful network of people who love to garden and are passionate about passing their knowledge on to whoever will listen. When I was struck with that moment of panic on Sunday night I was standing before my garden by myself, but I am realizing that I am not as alone as I thought.

May your harvest be abundant.
cheers

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