It wasn't long before I found that my furnishings in the garden were doing double duty. I began planting in them, and soon discovered they were best used in other ways. Having raised areas to mix dirt for individual planters, was very helpful. I could mix small amounts of dirt to match the needs of different plants. I could gather things onto the tables which had similar light and watering needs that kept me from over or under-watering, for instance. And some small containers that were often dragged over by the hose, were better off when not sitting on the ground. Some needed the bright sun and extra heat being off the ground afforded. I was finding functions for things I didn't even know I needed them for. Plus, I could handle the smaller bits of dirt, for now.
|This Lenten Rose was very pot bound. It had died back so much in the summer heat.|
But as time drew near, and Jimmy and I couldn't keep up, we talked almost daily about who to hire to get the garden even to a state of organization, much less planted. I had over a dozen things which were root bound in planters. I considered their light and moisture needs, and realized, they were one of the first things this upcoming season which I must get into the ground and out of planters. As it turned out, I realized they had similar needs, and some were winter blooming and some were early spring blooming. And it became clear they could easily be planted together.
|I had Columbine and Bleeding Heart, Sweet William and Lenten Rose all needing a home.|
One day as we entered the VA medical center in Murfreesboro, where Jimmy often goes for his medical needs, I noticed the new plantings around their huge trees out front. It appeared to be a new initiative, because I had never noticed pretty plants there before. What drew my attention, was that it was very cold and the plants were in full bloom. As I got close enough to be able to see them clearly, I was amazed how full of blooms they were. They were Helebores, otherwise known as Lenten Rose. That is what I had at home! Part of my plants needing to get planted were exactly these same flowers.
They had brought in new soil around the base of these trees, and had mounded it away from the base of the tree. I knew that bringing up dirt onto the bark of an established tree could kill it, so each time we passed these beds I looked more closely to see exactly how they had made these beds work. You need to know that, before this point, nothing had lived in these beds at the roots of these big trees. What they were doing in this spot now was not only working, it was thriving. I decided to do exactly the same at home. If their Lenten Rose, Sweet William and Columbine, and Bleeding Hearts were doing well together, then mine could as well.
I gathered the planters into one spot at the base of my own big oak with it's roots sprawling across the ground, and considered just how far away I needed the mound of dirt, and voila, it was going to work. I would clear an existing pathway between the tree and the mound, just as they had done, and mound it as high as it would mound, to account for the settling of the dirt. Except it was just another place where I needed a huge mound of dirt. Good healthy planting DIRT.
I had come to expect now that I could only hope to put dirt into the front of the first bed by the rocks, into the oval water troughs, and possibly make this mound and refill my initial raised planter. Jimmy and I decided that since there were certain things we didn't need to include in the summer budget because I could reuse them from the past, and if I didn't put new plastic on the greenhouse, need a new heater, or have the expense of planters, I actually could use that budget for dirt. So I relented when Jimmy insisted I go buy 10 bags early in the spring when they were on sale. We watched and waited for the sales and I figured out how I could manage these huge bags without hurting my back. I emptied old planters into the back of the first bed where I had been composting. Mixing the used dirt with composted materials might revitalized it a bit. But it would certainly help fill in the base to one of the holes. I didn't need the dirt to be nutritious at 4 feet deep, only in the upper 2 feet where the roots to plants would be. So I began to fill in the base of the other beds with anything that would not be detrimental to the health of the bed later, but could fill space.
As I cleared the garden and finished the cleanup I had neglected since fall, the whole area began to look so much better. But it was time. To make a choice.
One of my favorite scriptures says -
"Choose life." It is another of the themes of scripture to make choices, and this verse in particular says so clearly that we should choose life over death, which is seemingly in antithesis to the choice Jesus made for us. That is a spiritual discussion that could require several chapters in itself, but suffice it to say here, that I knew clearly that choosing life for my garden, where I intended to pray and grow in grace, was totally appropriate. And Christ's own example of dying to self and rising after death in order to give us eternal new life, is a specific parallel to planting a seed and watching it rise to new life and to give life to those who might eat it. And that is a provision beyond what he gives to humans. So much of the creation depends on plant life.
Deuteronomy 30:19 " I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
|Our Collection of Lenten Rose needed more ground, |
and I needed the planters for the Rex Begonias in the Greenhouse
So the choices Jimmy and I would make for our garden must bless someone's life, in our minds. If we chose to hire someone to help move all this dirt we were expecting, that person must benefit to move forward in life. If I didn't hire a professional, would I get someone who was passionate about my garden enough to want to do it right. Or would I be left with a lot of work which didn't produce a viable garden. If so, would it be worth paying someone just for the sake of giving them some well needed funds. I have hire persons who wouldn't listen to my needs to do something in my garden a certain way. And Jimmy, being impatient would back them. Just get it done would be his attitude, and I would be left to let things fall into a crack to be addressed later.
I knew several people who might give a few hours to help me, but none who could be as dedicated as I needed them to be, so would we need to hire several people? The questions kept rolling around in my head. Who, like my furniture, could do double duty? Who had the time, energy, dedication, strength, and wisdom to do what I needed them to do. The answer was to either hire a professional whom I didn't need to train, but was willing to do it properly, or train someone, who would make it a regular job for the summer.
Well, hiring the pro, had it's own set of problems; the amount of pay they would expect, the amount of hours they could spend, the mindset they had toward benefiting them for the future in what they were willing to plant, and the fact that they didn't quite fit the "someone who needed the money outside of their job" realm. We wouldn't be actually giving a pro an extra blessing. Unless they came an hour or two after work, and I wasn't sure that would work out. Most jobs don't want their people doing outside work in their own field. It's a conflict of interest thing.
So we thought of college students who might be happy to have only a few scattered hours outside of their summer jobs, to benefit them for things like car payments, and gas money. That seemed to fit, but who would we ask?
And there was the question, how much can we budget for this person we hire? As time went on, and we planned our summer, we figured out that we could not go on vacation, and that would free up some money. We already knew we had some of our summer garden budget free, due to not having those specific expenses as in years before. It certainly wasn't enough to buy enough dirt, so we still wondered how God would provide the dirt, even if we hired someone. It came down to making the decision. We must choose life for the garden, and somehow plant the seed, and make sure that it benefited someone scripturally, and lastly commit to getting dirt, because we were committing to pay someone to help us move it. It was just that simple.
One day, Jimmy said, just call Dakota, (our grandson) and see if he wants some extra money. I would rather pay him, and know it would help him out for school. I said, if not, he might have a friend who needs some help. It couldn't hurt to ask. So we did.
Now Dakota isn't a hard work kind of guy. He loves his computers. He often helped us out when he and his Mom lived in our basement when he was little, and he often cleaned our gutters, or helped remove limbs from the yard. He helped paint walls as a kid. But, his hard work time had been relegated to helping his Mom and Steve keeping up their own home. His spare time was all he had to spend time with his girlfriend. He never pouted about hard work, and his real job for the summer was hard work. But he wouldn't choose a physical job over a desk job, for his future. So we didn't think he would be very interested in an extremely hard and also very dirty job, like working for us all summer. Besides, isn't being out of school and being young supposed to be when you have a little fun? But he had said a time or two that he and a couple of friends might could help us unload some dirt for gas money. So at the very least, we should take that opportunity for help. We decided to pay them what we would have paid a landscaper by the hour. Or what we thought we might pay.
Jimmy's mind was churning around the budget, and it occurred to him, we wanted to help Dakota out for school, so we might have to choose between garden and helping Dakota for anything over the money we had already carved out. So I had almost totally ruled out paying a professional, and maybe even having a garden. Because, helping Dakota finish his college, was something we determined years earlier we didn't want to fail at. We had not been able to help our own children much at all. They sacrificed a lot of youthful pleasures, to accomplish their own college educations. So we had begun when he was just a baby to put money into a bank account so it would grow and be there for college.
The old fashioned way to grow your future nest egg, used to be, to put money in the bank and watch it grow. Well that was a bust. Interest on a savings account is good for nothing even over 20 years especially with the last couple of decades of economic busts. And though we had a couple of opportunities to invest it elsewhere, I hadn't learned the value of casting your bread upon the water style investing when he was young. We missed valuable earnings opportunities by letting it just sit in a bank. More like the seed the farmer sowed that landed in the edges of the field which produced so little in the scriptural stories Jesus and his disciples shared. That's what our money had done. So now we still had a dedication to help his mother help Dakota get a college education, and the time was now. NO more time to wait on investments, or so we thought. But there was one amount of money, and we needed it to do double duty. Help Dakota with school, or help me get my garden completed. We couldn't do both. Or so we thought.
The choice was simple. WE would help Dakota with school. The garden could wait.....