Grow Where You are Planted

I recently shared this on my Instagram account. I decided to share it here because I think it is important to recognize those object lessons we find in the garden… or in this case… out of the garden.

Found by my back door…a Bok Choy plant which planted itself. It takes a beating, but I leave it there to remind me to grow where I am planted…despite the hard days I have.

Sometimes in life, we don’t feel we are where we should be. We seem to be getting beat up. We seem to be in the wrong place. But, I believe we sometimes walk these times in our lives because God wants us to grow despite our circumstances.

May we all grow where we are planted!

*If you have a garden object lesson you would like to share here, contact us at

Outline for Gardening – Unit Study Idea

Outline for Gardening is a 28 page booklet recently released by our sister ministry,  Sonlight Education Ministry (SEM).  It is an older publication not found in the SEM catalog, but is full of such possibility!

My first thought was that the booklet is a wonderful gardening curriculum outline.  Starting several months before planting season begins in your area, you can work on understanding each section of the outline and how it applies to your particular growing zone.The various sections lend themselves to different types of projects and activities.

For example, for Sunlight: Measure and graph the amount of sunlight several potential garden plots receive each day and use the information to choose the best garden plots.

Soil: Do a home soil test or send a soil sample to your area’s university extenstion service for testing.  Use the results to learn what the your soil needs and how to provide for those needs.

Variety selection:  Order several seed/gardening catalogs and let your child create a collage of the garden they would like to grow in the coming season.

The companion planting section is written in such a way as to add a very nice character development/spiritual growth aspect to your study.

Outline for Gardening is available for free download on the Sonlight Education Ministry website.  While you are there, be sure to check the Released Materials page to see what has been recently released.


Growing In the Garden – Zucchini Squash Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

I was feeling a bit down this morning, as I considered some challenges that have recently come into my life.   Determined not to start a pity party, I decided to count my blessings instead.   As I started to count, my eyes lit on my pile of gifted squash and I was reminded that the blessings of God are as endless as my current supply of zucchini.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!

Despite making eight loaves of zucchini bread so far this week, I still haven’t made a dent in this pile of homegrown squash!   None of these beauties came from my garden.  I did not plant a single squash.   You guessed it- these came from my gardening friends and neighbors who are currently drowning in an abundance of zucchini and the like.  It seems like every time I use a zucchini,  more gets dropped off at our house.    As a matter of fact, my husband met a local farmer this week who practically begged him to come take some excess squash out of his field!

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.*

Be encouraged, friends.  When you stop and think about it, we’ve been gifted with more blessings than we know what to do with!  My challenges are nothing that God can’t handle.   God is good!

PS- Can I offer you some peppers or onions from my garden?  I seem to have an abundance of both….


*Lyrics from the hymn, Count Your Blessings by J. Oatman Jr.






Growing in the Garden ~ Don’t Stop Now, Cilantro!

I love cilantro.  I like the grassy undertone it gives to  fresh pico de gallo.   I especially enjoy whole cilantro leaves scattered throughout a green salad-yum!   Several in my family do not share my enthusiasm for cilantro.    It’s not that they have unrefined palates, it’s just that to them cilantro tastes bitter and soapy.   It’s a genetic thing.  That’s okay, more for me!

My cilantro plant has served me well all winter long, happily sharing bucket space with a few slow-growing leeks.    Now that we are on the leading edge of summer, my cilantro plant has decided to bolt.  It has shot up in ragged fashion  and started to produce flowers.   It is going to seed.   That is to be expected, as cilantro is a cool-season herb.

It is tempting to pull the cilantro plant and trash it, as its leaves are no longer tender and tasty.  Compared to my basil, thyme, and oregano, this poor plant is a mess.  Get rid of it!

If I trashed the plant now, I’d miss out on a blessing.   Did you know that cilantro is the name of the leaves, but the plant is actually coriander?  Yes, the spice coriander!  If I let the plant continue going to seed, I will be able to get a small harvest of coriander seed.

Don’t stop now cilantro!  Keep bolting, keep growing!

Some days I feel like cilantro- ragged and leggy compared to the ‘beauty’ around me.  But then I remember that God has a purpose for my life.  He wants me to keep going, keep growing.  If I allow Him to, God will produce a beautiful harvest in me.  I’ll be coriander!  Praise the Lord, He’s not finished with me yet.



Growing In the Garden- Pole Bean Perseverance

All winter long I made grand bean-growing plans. Come spring, I was going to have an abundance of fresh tender green pods.  After looking over my seed stash, I made my choices.   My planting list  both bush and pole flat Romano beans as well as pole yard-long beans .

Beans generally have one of two types of growing habits: bush or pole.  Bush beans grow with a bushy habit, usually no more than 2 ft tall.  Bush beans will occasionally send out tendrils, but don’t need the support of a trellis.   Pole beans, on the other hand, can easily grow to 6 to 8 ft tall- even more if growing conditions are optimal. Pole beans feature lots of vining tendrils that will grab whatever support it can find to help it climb.

My DIY cattle panel trellis.

In late winter I erected a cattle panel trellis for the pole beans.  I prepared the soil at the foot of the trellis for planting.  Soon it was warm enough for bean germination.  I planted pole Romano beans on one side of the trellis and pole yard-long beans on the other side.  And then I waited. Nothing.  In the meantime I planted bush Romano beans.  The bush beans germinated and popped through the soil.  Pole beans, nothing.  After amending the soil a second time, I replanted another set of both pole  beans, thinking perhaps I had used seed that was too old.  I waited, and again nothing.  I planted one side a third time with pole Romano beans.  Still nothing.  Strange!  Meanwhile the bush Romano beans grew quickly, began to flower and produce beans.

I planted a fourth packet of beans on one side of the trellis, this time a packet of traditional green beans- Blue Lake pole beans.  On the other side, I planted an old packet of cucumbers.  For fun, I threw out a few nasturtium seeds.  Amazingly, everything in the 4th planting germinated!

In a few weeks my trellis will be filled with a wild mix of edible flowers, cucumbers and beans.  I think I will like this crazy mix even more than what I originally had planned.  What if I had given up after the first packet of seeds did not come up?

I wanted something to grow on my DIY trellis so badly that I just kept planting and planting until I achieved success.  I just kept going.

This experience with pole beans has given me much food for spiritual thought.   I need to have this same determination in my walk with Christ and my witness for Him. My quest for a Christ-like character can’t stop at the first sign of discouragement.  I must keep going, keep trying, keep persevering!    I need to keep planting seeds of His Love everywhere I go.  Amending the soil of hardened hearts in those I encounter with kindness and unselfish service.  This is not the time to quit.  Keep planting!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

-Galatians 6:9





Growing in the Garden: Determinate or Indeterminate

Tomatoes – Determinate or Indeterminate

Did you know there are two distinct types of tomatoes?  Tomatoes grow in two different ways.  The two types of plants are referred to as determinate and indeterminate tomatoes.  Here are some differences that I have found.

Determinates grow for their growing period and put on fruit all at once.  The plant has a definite limit to its growing capacity or ability to put on fruit.  This is a type of tomato that you would like to have in your garden if you are choosing to can your tomatoes.  You will get a large crop all at once.  They do well being supported with tomato cages.


Indeterminates do not have a limit to its growing capacity, except by its external physical limitations.  Indeterminates will continue to grow, as long as they are supported and the weather allows.  These vines have been known to grow up to 12 feet or longer.  They grow best with a strong support system so the long vines do not break.  These plants put on tomatoes at regular intervals, so if you only have a couple plants, you will need to be creative with your planning for preserving your tomatoes.  If you have a lot of these plants, you will have a continuous supply of tomatoes for processing, eating fresh, and sharing.

What type of tomato plant you choose will be largely determined by your garden space, your ability to support the plant and your plans for the fruit.

I find that for canning, I like a paste or Roma tomato or a smaller round tomato like Marglobe.  Many of these are determinates (but not all of them).  I like the determinate varieties because they all come ripe at one time so I can pretty much be done with tomatoes in a 2 week period of time.  This is wonderful for canning purposes.

For fresh eating, I like to have tomatoes over a longer period.  I have found that indeterminate varieties are wonderful for this purpose.  As long as you keep the tomatoes picked, they seem to continue to produce until the end of your growing season.  These plants are good to get in early in your garden season so you have a longer continuous supply.

Over the years, the seed companies did not always (and still do not) mention whether a tomato variety is a determinate or an indeterminate type of growing tomato. Gardeners would get jealous over their neighbor’s tomato plants that grew 10 feet tall, while their own remained at a meager 4 feet height.  Others watched as some picked a large crop for canning purposes and they were struggling to find enough tomatoes to get a batch for canning.   I have been in both categories and it wasn’t until the last couple years that I finally discovered this interesting fact about tomatoes.

So, what can we learn from the types of tomatoes?

We each have different styles of growing and producing fruit.

A typical evangelistic campaign of sending out flyers and having a 3-4 week long session of meetings produces a crop of believers that we work with to produce a harvest.  Does it work?  Yes.

We also have another style of witnessing in which we put out feelers and have Bible studies with a smaller group, but on a more continuous basis.  It produces fruit often in smaller quantities, but in a more continual pattern. Does this work?  Yes.

In our homeschool setting, we will find that some children thrive with a large motivated project while others thrive with smaller more steady forms of input and output expectations.

Each style has its own type of work associated with it and its own expected response of success.  I have learned there are benefits to the two different types of tomatoes for my home garden.  I believe there are also benefits to the different styles of sharing Jesus with those we meet, to the learning styles within our families/homeschools, and to the style of teaching (sometimes switching it up is better for obtaining a different response). Knowing the growing style of the plant helps you to care for it better; knowing the learning styles of those around us, helps us to help them grow better, as well.

To learn more about determinate and indeterminate tomatoes, see the link below:

Should You Grow Determinate or Indeterminate Tomato Plants? 

Please share more spiritual insights that determinate and indeterminate tomatoes bring to mind with you in the comments below.

Growing in the Garden: Rhubarb

Old patch of rhubarb, 3 plants

While working at Farmer’s Market several years ago, we met another vendor who shared with us a great tip for reviving an old patch of rhubarb.  I hadn’t had a chance to try it out until last year and I am pretty excited about the results!

Tip:  Rhubarb plant roots will continue to thicken and twist around one another.  Heavy picking can increase the timing of this process.  This will decrease the productivity of the plant.  To keep the plant healthy and to increase yields, you will want to dig up the roots and divide your plant in early spring…just as the buds are coming up, but before leaves begin to open.

Last year I divided two older plants into 10 new plants.  (If you have no room for that many new plants, consider giving some away to your neighbors or friends).  This year I divided 3 plants into 20.

You will need to dig about a foot away from the plant and dig down at least a foot to 18 inches to get underneath the established roots of the plant you intend to divide.  After digging it up, you will want to divide it into smaller pieces.  Twist the roots to try to divide with minimal breaking.  I found I still heard roots breaking and snapping off, but the plants still all grew back.  I tried to keep each clump with at least one bud (up to 2-4 buds) with some roots connected to it.  Plant in a new hole, like you would for a bush, dig a hole twice as wide and much deeper so that the soil is not as compacted around the new transplant.  Keep the buds at ground level as they were before. Fill soil under and around the transplant.  Rhubarb enjoys full sun and even partial shade (if you are trying to figure out where to place them in your yard).

This first year, do not pick from the new plants, let them get established.  The second year, pick lightly so you do not stress the transplant.  The third year you can pick as heavily as desired.

I stood the same distance from an old patch above (first picture in this post) and the 2nd year transplants below.  You can visibly see how much healthier the transplant is.  It has larger leaves and longer thicker stems.

I thought of a few spiritual applications as I was writing this post.  I will share a couple below, but I invite you to comment additional thoughts, as well.  This helps all of us to recognize spiritual thoughts in nature/gardening and we can share these with our children, too.

*We can wear ourselves out by too much work and not enough rest, just like over-picking can decrease the productivity of a rhubarb plant.

*Challenges in our lives can be like the dividing of the plant and help us grow to be more productive.

*It reminds me of the Stewardship of Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.

* One plant can supply our family with a couple rhubarb desserts or a batch or two of jam .  If I divide that plant into 5, I now can share with others and still have plenty for us at home.   When I share of what the Lord has given me, He will bless what is left and often you will find what’s left is enough to supply our needs.

Please share your additional thoughts below.