at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Garden Inspirations

I realized that I’ve been really slacking on the blog this month.  I don’t know what it is, but I just haven’t felt the urge to write and I’ve been lacking in ideas for topics.  So, naturally, I turned to Twitter hoping to find someone willing to offer a suggestion.  Sure enough, Gina came through for me.  Here’s what she said:

I'd like to know how your gardening inspires your life as well as your table.

The first big tomato from my garden in 2010!
Great question and great topic!  How does gardening inspire my life?  Well, first of all, you must know that I have always loved plants – ever since I was a kid.  In first grade, my best friend and I started the Help Save Our Earth (otherwise known as H.S.O.E.) Club.  That got me into plants and animals of all types.  I always wanted a garden as a kid, but my parents were not so inclined.  

(See below for a rare copy of the first ever H.S.O.E. club Newsletter, circa 1992. Also, note the concern for endangered spices. I bet you didn't know about the worldwide shortage of turmeric...)

I had one year where my parents let me have a small patch of the backyard to grow things.  I LOVED it.  Of course, I was about eleven years old and didn’t know the first thing about how to care for the plants, but I nonetheless got some peppers and strawberries.  After that, I had to wait over a decade before I finally had my own home, with my own yard where I could plant a garden.  We bought our house in the fall of 2009, and my first garden was in the spring of 2010.  In some ways, it has been my best garden yet (TONS of tomatoes!). 

Baby tomato plants! They grew so
well that first year...

Gardening was one of the things I most looked forward to when we purchased our home – and I wanted to grow as much as possible from seeds.  There’s just something about growing something from a little seed into a piece of food for your dinner table.  It feels like a great accomplishment and it seems like a miracle when you think of how quickly it grew from a tiny speck to a large plant that produces fruit.  And, somehow, starting from plants always feels like cheating to me.  I don’t mind the work, either.  I’ve always enjoyed playing in the dirt!  And, oddly enough, the scent of tomato leaves is one of my favorite smells in the world (weird, I know). 

Gardening is FUN!!
Gardening gets me outside, in the sunshine, getting exercise and doing something productive.  It inspires me to learn new things, to not let RA get in the way of the things that I love, and to work hard, knowing that my efforts will produce fruit.  It always reminds me of my Creator God, and I often think back to the Garden of Eden and how man’s first task was to care for a garden.  I see gardening as a symbol of how to nurture good things in one’s own life, to grow something good of out the seeds planted in us, and to reap a harvest of righteousness, faith and truth – to be a bountiful blessing in the lives of others. 

Thin crust veggie pizza
And, of course, gardening does, in fact, inspire my dinnertable.  There’s no meal quite as satisfying as the one that contains homegrown foods.  Plus, growing your own vegetables is one way to encourage yourself to eat more of them – and eat a more healthful diet overall.  I have to use whatever I have growing, and it often forces me to find new recipes.  My first year of gardening, I had an overabundance of tomatoes.  I learned how to slow roast them in the oven with garlic, and froze them for later use with chicken or pasta.  Last year, I tried my hand at spaghetti sauce – the results were not bad, but it still needs a little bit of work!  I’m also a fan of fresh salsa and bruschetta (which also uses garden-grown basil).  I love to make pesto out of fresh basil, but unfortunately Tom is not a fan.  This year, I learned how to cook Swiss chard, and thought I’d need to expand my recipe base even more until the deer started chomping it again.  Fresh salads in the spring made with homegrown spinach and strawberries make me happy (they’re one of the few food pairings that actually mature at the same time in my garden).  My most recent garden-inspired dinner was actually a thin crust pizza.  I had a banana pepper growing in my garden and wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I decided it would go great on a thin crust veggie pizza, and I was not disappointed!

I’m still a gardening novice and I often don’t take time to do everything properly.  As it turns out, I garden more like my great-grandmother used to: letting things grow where they fall and keeping all of my “volunteers” that grow from the previous year’s self-seeding plants.  But, I’m trying to learn and am certainly enjoying the process!  If you’re new to gardening, I’d recommend finding a couple things that grow easily in your climate and soil (after all, you need some crops to do really well so you don’t get discouraged), but to also try something new or different—whether it’s a new food you don’t  normally eat or something you would never have thought to grow—give it a try and have fun with it!

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. –Hosea 10:12

for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth –Ephesians 5:9

For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
    spring up before all nations. –Isaiah 61:11

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!