Gardens and Patience


It seems like the last few weeks have been a time of playing catch-up. The fields are growing and green and the lawn and weeds have also been growing profusely.

We use a push mower; so mowing our farm yard takes pretty much an entire day with my husband and I kind of tag teaming the job. For some reason we kind of have our own “zones” that we seem to be in charge of mowing.

The areas I mow….I tend to bag, so I can use the grass on my garden. I have also been spending time weeding and hoeing and trying to stay ahead of those same weeds  so those weeds don’t take over my garden.

In my last post I mentioned we had a nest of baby bunnies in our back yard…not really too far from our garden! As anyone, who gardens, knows….bunnies and gardens don’t mix at all!

My husband has come up with a wonderful solution and has been making garden panels from 10 foot pieces of lumber and chicken wire. I absolutely love those panels as they are easy to handle and work great for keeping the rabbits from eating the produce.

This has been a strange year for gardening. The winter seemed to last forever so most of my seeds and plants got in very late. We usually get our potatoes in Easter weekend…this year we were an entire month later!


My potatoes look pretty dismal. They came up so spotty and I finally became impatient and took a spade to dig where a potato should be. I discovered that the seed potatoes were rotting in the soil!

I ended up replanting in all those spaces because having potatoes come up late is preferable to weeds taking over that space. Now it looks like I am growing orange flags… least this way I will know where to look for those tiny shoots once they decide to come up.

I found it hard to understand why some of those plants were doing so well and a little ways away the other ones were rotting. There is probably a life lesson there somewhere. Why do some people do wonderful in a situation and the next person does not? Sometimes the answer to those questions…garden and otherwise are not so easy to find.

I have also found that a garden is a great place to talk over life with yourself and with God. For some reason it seems like the perfect place to hold those conversations. I always kind of wonder if it is because it is quiet out in my back yard. The sounds I hear are the little wren irately scolding me, the wind in the evergreen trees and the distant sounds of tractors and equipment in the fields.

There is a slower pace in a garden. Spending time hand picking weeds from around tiny pea and bean plants forces me to slow down and persevere. Time spent in a garden gives me lots of time to ponder things.

I love the end product of my garden…but truth be told…I also love the process of getting to those canned goods. It is time well spent…it is time that is good for my soul.

May your week be filled with things that require patience and may that patience give you time to ponder. May your life also be filled with growth…lush and green…even with a few weeds tossed in!


Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
— May Sarton


The best place to find God is in a garden.
You can dig for him there.
George Bernard Shaw

Read more at:



Gardening, Weeds, and Sugar Scrub

IMG_3535 Tomatoes and Weeds

Healthy Tomatoes & Healthy Weeds

It is definitely the gardening season in our part of the country….or should I say it is definitely the weed-growing season? In the heat of our late spring, the weeds have become overly prolific. The sheer volume of those growing, generally worthless things can be a little overwhelming.

I thought I would share the picture of my tomatoes……before weeding. The weeds are still there due to having gotten 1.2 inches of rain in a couple days ago. The rain was great even though it did put a halt to my weeding for a bit. I cannot honestly say I really felt to bad about having to wait to do more weeding!

I knew that those weeds would not disappear if I waited an extra day to get rid of them. It would be nice if there were a weed fairy who just waltzed in overnight and took off with them! Alas she did not, and I spent time hoeing and pulling said weeds this afternoon.

I do have some milkweed plants that I leave grow behind my summer kitchen/garden shed. I figure the monarch butterflies need all the help they can get so I leave a small patch just for them.

IMG_3538 Milkweeds

“Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.”~Unknown


I hope to be rewarded with beautiful monarchs floating by on the summer breezes. I remember as a kid there was nothing quite as exciting as a watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.

We used to take the branches they hung on and put them in an old aquarium so we could watch them when they emerged. Once they started the process, we carefully put the stick with the chrysalis outside so the butterfly could unfold and dry it’s new wings in the sun. It was one of the best hands on science lessons I have ever witnessed.

I also remember getting the liquidy stuff of the milkweed on our hands as kids. I have no idea what that stuff was but it stained our hands just as much as dandelions did. I have also found that weeding in the garden can be hard on hands and fingernails and leave some serious stains on skin and under fingernails.

This week I made some sugar scrub that should help with getting those stains off my hands and help get the dirt from under my fingernails. I am going to share the recipe with you so you can make some yourself!

Lemon Sugar Scrub.JPG

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
8 ounce glass jar
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all ingredients.
Spoon into glass jar
Top off with more grapeseed oil so mix is not dry.
Use whenever you need for greasy hands, paint-spattered hands and anytime you need
to really scrub them.
This smells wonderful and is a great all natural alternative to other cleansers.
NOTE: you can also use sweet almond oil in place of grapeseed oil.

If all else fails with stained fingernails, you can always go ahead and use some dark fingernail polish to mask those stains. I am not sure how this would go over if you are a guy…but as a female gardener….I find that dark purple works wonderfully!

May you have a wonderful weekend. If you are a dad or grandpa may you have a blessed Father’s Day and enjoy your family. And may all your vegetable gardens and flower beds be weed free….. or at least have weeds that are pretty when they bloom.


A good garden may have some weeds.
~Thomas Fuller




Potatoes, Weeds and Other Ponderings


grass-burrToday was the day that the remainder of the potatoes have been dug out of the garden.  We heard that the forecast said possible rain coming in the next day or so. It was decided that we should probably take that forecast to heart as we cannot count on the days staying as beautiful and mild as they have been.

We have been pretty spoiled with our weather lately. It is great but it makes putting off outdoor tasks, way too easy. We do have to remember we live in the midwest and winter will arrive at some point. So…….today my husband decreed it was potato digging day.

Digging potatoes is always kind of exciting in an odd way.  You plant those “eyes” in the early spring, hoe them, water them (sometimes you water them and sometimes you just wait for God to do that job.), you put grass around them to keep the weeds down and then you wait.  And you wait. You pull some weeds. You pray for rain. You wait some more. You pull a few more weeds.  The plants die (which is a relief because then you figure you can quit weeding!). And finally it is time to dig them up and see what actually grew under there.

I mowed the potatoes last week. Yes, that is right.  I mowed and bagged the area the potatoes were in.  Once the plants die and you quit pulling weeds; you discover a sad fact.  That sad fact is that the weeds do not die at the same time as the potato plants. Those weeds can get quite large and the entire area looks very unsightly and in general…..just a mess. So I mowed and bagged them so we would be able to locate where the potato plants actually were.

I discovered today that it is not the big weeds that get to be the problem.  There are some little grassy weeds that I am sure were dreamt up by the devil himself. Those little weeds are grass burrs.  (I did not know what they were called till today when I googled them.) I am not sure who named those things but, to just call them grass burrs does not do justice to how diabolical they actually are.

The little burr type seed head things are painful.  They are tiny and are round spiny little balls of agony when they stick into your skin.  They like to hook onto the edges of your jeans or stick in your socks and then when you cross your ankles later it is like having someone stick a bunch of needles into your flesh. I really, really hate those things!

I found out as we were digging potatoes just how nasty they were. Many times when I reached down to pick up a spud, unbeknownst to me, there would be one of those little buggers hiding underneath the spud. By the time we were done digging all the hills; my fingers were tingling from all the little “sticks” I had suffered from those burrs.

I think this weed is a lot like “stuff” in life.  It is not always the big things that take us down and cause pain.  Sometimes it is just the accumulation of too many tiny, little hurts and frustrations that finally get to us. It is the things that hide in the odd places and catch us unawares that cause us pain and get us to react in a way that we normally would not.

I guess I am going to have to keep pulling weeds in my garden and in my life.  Even when the potatoes look dead, I need to remember they are still living beneath the ground and still growing. I am finding out there is never really a time to just let the weeds go…..there is never a time to quit weeding, watering and praying. If I do quit, I find it will eventually come back to make life difficult.

Weeds are pulled up by the roots to clear the fields for the growing grain.
Why should not mental weeds be pulled up by the roots also,
and the mind cleared for growth?
~Horace Fletcher
Menticulture, 1895





Beneath the Beans


Under the Beans

While walking beans this morning my shoe came undone; I bent over to retie the lace and discovered an amazing place.

I told my husband that he should really take a look- he did not take me up on that. On the surface all you could see was green waving leaves and some little grasshoppers (which I have learned bite viciously). The sun beats down on you when you stand above those leaves and you hope to catch a cool breeze.

Once you get down under the canopy of leaves it is a rather sun-dappled world. A light breeze ruffles the yellowing leaves underneath. Small bugs walk around totally oblivious to the world above and the smell of dirt and leaves is rich.

Sparkling Sunlight Through The Leaves

You also see the pods that have formed and the little purple blooms drying up to become the pods that will fill with soybeans. It is ripe with the promise of abundance that will take care of us for the coming year.

I cannot say I love walking beans as it is usually hot; but I will say that there is a sense of season and continuity that comes with doing certain tasks during the different seasons. It is also a time that my husband and I spend hashing out the problems of the world and life in general.

When walking beans, it is better to focus on the harvest to come and to focus on the rows already cleaned than to focus on what rows are yet left to do. I think much of life is like that…..looking behind to see how far you have actually come. It makes going through the hard places so much easier to see how many you have already made it through.There is also a sense of fulfillment when looking over a bean field that has been totally cleaned.

My husband made the comment that bean fields are a lot like life.  We all want the biggest, cleanest, most productive “field” that we can have.  You start out, you plant the field with great hopes and wait for the spring rains.  Once they are growing you wait for the rains to stop so you can get in there and get rid of the weeds. When you have done everything you can for that field you just have to wait and remember that God is in control and all you can do is, once again, wait and pray.

As farmers and people who live our lives we sometimes have a tough time being patient for the harvest.  We cringe when the weather turns ugly with hail, storms, high winds and generally things that seem hurtful.

I have told people that we may not always have had the biggest crop, we may not always have it “easy” but we have never been hungry or had to walk out of our home naked.  I think that makes us fortunate. (I will not say blessed because I have a tough time tying blessing to wealth.)

I am indeed grateful for this life that lets me find lessons in the small things. I love the lessons I can find (with my husband’s help) under the beans.

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

Read more at:











Memories of Bean Walking

Foggy Morning in the Bean Field.JPG

A Hazy Humid Morning in the Bean Field


I am starting to believe that my sister and I brought the hot, humid weather back to Iowa from D.C. It is humid and stifling. It is great corn growing weather; but not so much for people comfort weather.

Once again, I am back in the swing of gardening, caring for chickens, walking the soybean field and all the other summer tasks that need to be done. Though I think I will wait for cooler weather for mowing the back yard. It is just too hot and there is zero breeze back there.

While I was gone my husband had started walking beans. For those of you who have no idea what that is…..I will tell you what it isn’t.  It is not putting a teeny tiny leash on a bean and taking it for a walk around the block or section. What it is… usually hot work that involves the oldest tennis shoes you have, a hoe or corn knife, volunteer corn and weeds in the soybean field and muggy Iowa weather.

The sprays of today do help with most of the weeds but my husband hesitates to “over spray” so we end up walking to chop out the ones that escape the spray boom.  We also chop out the volunteer corn that always seems to crop up from last season. I am not sure what these corns are volunteering to do but I wish they would quit!

Walking beans was the foundation of my employment back when I was in high school. Back then we worked for $2.65 an hour. We started at 6:00 in the morning and worked all morning to avoid the heat of the afternoon. We would start down the rows of the soybean fields wearing shorts and t-shirts and by noon be down to our swimsuits. With the dew on the beans running down your legs and pooling in your shoes; you could accumulate a couple inches of mud on the bottom of your tennies. By noon, in the heat, it had dried and fallen off.

Once the morning of hoeing and chopping was done our crew headed back home to peel off dirty clothes, hose off shoes and hang them on the line, sharpen hoes, pack lunches for the next day and head for the local sandpit to swim and cool off.

During my bean walking career I worked for many different farmers. Some of them were real “characters”. I will never forget the one who instructed us to only chop weeds to the top of the hill and not to worry about the weeds beyond the hill.  He figured his neighbors could not see those; so it was not a problem.  This same farmer gave us blank signed checks when we turned in our hours for payment!  We told him the amount he should put on them but he told us to just write it in ourselves. I found out later that he did this to many kids, my husband included. From what I know, the kids who received these checks were always honest and put the correct amount. We would shake our heads, grin and imagine what we could do with all that income had we been dishonest…..

For some reason, walking beans seemed a lot easier back then.  The weather seemed cooler (in my memory only perhaps?).  Maybe it was because of unexpected things that seemed to happen…..things like goats jumping all over the car of a friend who drove that day? Maybe it was the Hostess cream filled cupcakes and susy-q’s?  Maybe it was the incentive of the paycheck at the end? I am not really sure….I just know it seemed easier back then.

I am starting to suspect that age may have something to do with my level of enthusiasm when it comes to walking beans. I know that, now, when my husband and I take a water break our  5 minutes of sitting usually turns into 10 minutes. (I cannot get him convinced that we really need to recuperate longer than that.) I know that we do not start at 6:00 in the morning as we prefer the leaves of the beans to be dry so we can avoid the inch of mud on our shoes and pants dragging and heavy from the dew that has run down them. I know that we quit sooner than noon time and that is okay. Maybe if I purchased some Hostess treats the magic would return?  Nope……pretty sure not.

The rhythm of the hours of our days has definitely changed from when we were younger. The need to get “it” all done in a hurry so we can move on to the next thing has all but disappeared. There is a contentment in seeing progress in the bean field but unless we hear that rain is coming, the urgency to finish in a couple days is gone.

I am kind of loving this phase of our lives…..where time is not hurried but rather used, lived and enjoyed.  Yes, even walking beans in the heat and humidity is looked back on with a smile.  It might be that we are smiling because we are done for the day!  But we are smiling.


I don’t know too many kids who ask to weed the garden.
Tom Douglas

Read more at:




Peas, Patience and Pulling Weeds

Sugar Snap Peas

I wandered past my garden the other day and noticed that I really should be picking some peas. (I also noticed I really needed to be pulling some weeds!)

I was very happy to see I actually had peas.  This gardening season has been a battle for my peas against rabbits, ground hogs, earwigs, weeds and grasshoppers.  The plants are shorter than normal, due to all the pruning they have had.  This makes it a little harder to pick them but they are so worth the effort.

This year I made sure to get the correct seed.  Last year I purchased seed to late and ended up settling for snow peas. I know many people love snow peas but we thought the pods were kind of crunchy and I really wanted to steam them and be able to eat the pods.

My husband and I discovered that neither of us were very fond of the snow peas so when the seeds came out late this past winter I  quickly purchased a couple packs of the Sugar Snap Peas that we like. My husband still asks me if we got the right ones.


We planted them on time and they quickly came up. Then the battles began. (Note to self: Next year plant them close to the beans, lettuce and other stuff that we put chicken wire around to keep out “nature’s self-appointed pruners”.)  Due to the limited amount of plants that survived we will probably only get enough for meals now and then ……no freezing any. At this point that is good enough for me!

I also spent some time weeding today, even though it was incredibly hot and muggy . The melon patch was starting to look pretty bad and definitely required attention.

Melon Patch

I am going to be gone for the rest of this week, with my sister, to attend and volunteer at  Together 2016, that is taking place at the National Mall in Washington, DC. I knew if I didn’t get some of the weeding done before I left the garden was going to get ugly pretty fast in this heat and humidity. There may or may not be a life lesson in there for me!

This trip was on short notice so I seem to be running around to get things done before I go. Perhaps the time spent in the garden was exactly what I needed; to slow down and take things one at a time. Lesson learned….for now.



Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help.
Gardening is an instrument of grace.
May Sarton

Read more at:




Garden Maintenance

Weeding Tomatoes

It is amazing to me how fast the weeds seem to grow in my garden. It does not seem that long ago that I spent a couple days, hand pulling weeds, hoeing and mulching that garden. Here one week later I need to do it all over again.

After hanging up a load of wash I thought I would venture over to the garden and unfortunately no one had taken care of the weed problem.  I crawled over my chicken wire panels (to keep out the rabbits) and started pulling them out (the weeds).

In my years of gardening I have found out that you must be diligent in the care and maintenance of a garden plot. In my years of living I have also found out I must be diligent with the care and maintenance of my spiritual life. In both cases if I do not maintain them regularly the “weeds” will outgrow the plants and eventually kill them. I digress….

I also discovered that I have been having a visitor to my fenced in garden area. I found two new “doorways” along the back fence. A woodchuck has burrowed under the fence and been helping himself to my lettuce and carrots. I have filled his “doorway” back up with dirt but I have a feeling he will be back.Chuck

This is an old picture of a woodchuck that we named Chuck (very creative right?) He used to come “visit”  our house quite often.  He even spent the winter in our garage back when we had a dirt floor. I think our new visitor might be one of his descendants that is terrorizing my vegetables. Now if I could just train them to eat the weeds and leave the vegetables.

For some reason he does not seem to eat the onions. This fact is totally understandable to my husband who doesn’t want to eat them either.


Gardening is an ongoing struggle to stay ahead of the weeds and various critters who think I have planted it just for them. It is worth the struggle!

Much of life is like gardening.  It can be a lot of work that needs to be done over and over again. There are always plenty of “weeds” waiting to take over and just suck the joy out of life. But don’t give up. There is a harvest coming. That is a promise I am hanging on to.

Until then I will water, weed, and enjoy the journey of life and gardening.

Enjoy your weekend and may you find joy in your journey.

In simple humility,
let our gardener God,
landscape you with the Word,
making a salvation
-garden of your life.
James 1: ~21



Dorothy Lynch Wannabe

Blooming Potatoes

Potatoes in Bloom


I have been spending this last week in the garden weeding, and weeding and did I say weeding? In the days that we were gone to our nephew’s wedding the garden plants really took off and so did the weeds.

The potatoes have started to bloom and when weeding the patch where the carrots are supposed to be I discovered a lot of hair-thin carrots were actually growing. That meant I had to spend time on my knees picking each weed, one by one so I would not end up taking out most of the carrots. I am pretty sure some carrots were harmed in the picking of those weeds.

I kept telling myself it would be worth it in the end – carrots on my pantry shelves. Those weeds reminded me of bad habits and sin……hard to get rid of but worth it in the end.  And the only way to get rid of them is time spent on my knees.

Fresh Lettuce

I also found my lettuce was growing.  the large one in the picture is a volunteer from last year that the rabbits overlooked. The rest are all small (like the carrots) and required time-consuming plucking of weeds.

Seeing the lettuce had started; I figured I had better make some salad dressing so I would be ready when my lettuce could start being picked. A friend of a friend gave me this recipe that I really like.  If you have ever had Dorothy Lynch Dressing… is a close copy of that.

Dorothy Lynch Wannabe

Dorothy Lynch Wannabe Dressing
1 can tomato soup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/16 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
pepper to taste

Blend well with electric hand mixer or put in blender
Note:  I have used Splenda in place of sugar but it is runnier.

Now I just need to wait patiently for the lettuce, carrots,tomatoes and onions to grow so I can have a great salad.

In the meantime I think I will be doing more weeding  and watering before I get to sample the produce.

“Don’t let the tall weeds cast a shadow on the beautiful flowers in your garden.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Build houses and live in them;
plant gardens and eat their produce.
Jeremiah 29:5