When quarantine went from 2 weeks to several months, I decided to start gardening. To be honest, I’ve never been good at gardening. I usually kill all my plants. I even killed a cactus, which I thought was impossible. But, I thought I would try to garden with a “shepherd’s perspective.” So, here’s my experience and what I learned!
Since the soil outside the common life is a little hard, I decided to make a raised garden bed. And by “make,” I mean…I found an old piece of furniture on the side of the road and filled it with dirt to make a garden bed. One man’s trash is another man’s…garden bed 😊
Then I planted some seeds and waited. I figured I would start with something easy like spinach, lettuce, radishes, and kale. I was shocked to see how quickly they grew. In less than a month, they were big and leafy. But then, I noticed the leaves started disappearing, and the remaining ones were filled with holes. A week later, my whole garden was devoured by caterpillars. And then, I even found rat droppings in the garden bed! Agghhh! My garden was becoming a buffet for all the Gardena wildlife. These were just some of the many obstacles I faced in my gardening adventures.
It’s been 5 months since I started my garden. And now, it’s growing very well. I’ve made delicious salads, kale chips, smoothies, and many other yummy things with the vegetables I’ve harvested. Yay!
I’ve also learned a lot about being a shepherd through taking care of this garden. The kingdom of heaven really is like a garden. One thing: it takes a lot of patience and dedication. There were many times where, after seeing no progress, I wanted to give up. I wished the plants could just talk to me and tell me what was going on! But instead, I had to figure it out on my own (with some help from Shepherd Google). Sometimes I feel like that with sheep. If only they could clearly articulate what’s going on in their hearts. But often, they can’t. So, it’s my job to pray sincerely and wrestle with God so that he may give me clear direction. Another thing: it takes a lot of trial and error. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” When I seek God’s help with sheep, then God can reveal to me what “pest” is hindering their growth. And then he directs me to the right Scriptural “pesticide” to help them. With a shepherd’s love and the pro-gardening hand of God, one sheep can grow into a beautiful garden plant!
Also, springtime is planting time! So, I wanted to share some practical gardening tips that I learned from experience:
- Don’t over water vegetables/herbs. You want to check the soil to see if it’s dry and needs water. You can do this by sticking your finger in the soil, about an inch deep. If the soil is moist, then it’s still ok. If it is dry and crumbly, then you should water. Instead of lightly watering them every day, try to deeply water them 2-3 times per week.
- If bugs are destroying your garden, try Neem oil. It’s a natural pesticide, and it’s a lot safer than using store-bought stuff. (Mix 1-quart warm water, 1 tsp neem oil, 1/3-1 tsp mild liquid soap in spray bottle. Spray regularly, not when plant is in direct sunlight).
- If you get slugs, try sprinkling coffee grounds over the soil.
- If you get rats, then try using essential oil like peppermint or eucalyptus oil. I put cotton balls on toothpicks and put a few drops of the essential oil on the cotton balls. Stick the toothpicks in the soil around the plants. Rats hate these smells.
- Don’t give up on dying plants! Just like sheep, they may just need a little extra love and patience.
“I even killed a cactus”
😂 That’s me!! I am a succulent killer. But I shouldn’t give up. I’ve got one last one that Jacky gave me, and I’m tenderly caring for it (whenever I remember to.. which is not very often).
Though I am a terrible shepherd, I need not to depend on myself; but rely on God who knew what he was doing when he called me. Reminds me of the verse- who calls things that are not as though they were.
Your experience in gardening reveals deep and profound spiritual insight.. Amazing…!
Hahaha I didn’t think it was possible to kill a succulent. But I over-watered it. It started to grow bigger, and I got excited. But that was only because it was filling up with water…then it exploded. Sad.
Anyway, yes. So true. “Rely on the God who knew what he was doing when he called me.” I needed that reminder!
It exploded?! Well, I guess that’s one way to destroy a plant. That’s so sad yet hilarious. Now I’m curious how it looked…did it explode all at once, with broken fragments of cactus scattered on the ground, or did it just swell up and slowly leak out green liquid….? I have so many questions lol
Hahah! It just slowly tore open and leaked out liquid. It happened overnight.
Yikes xD Poor cactus!
Hahaha…. I don’t know why but reading your stories about how y’all kill the supposedly un-killable plants comfort me because apparently, I’m not the only one who’s talented at doing it. 😖
I like this title “un-killable plants” hahaha. Also good news – I realized that the orchid I thought I had killed is still somehow alive in the house. My mom picked up the slack! It doesn’t look great but she claims it’s still alive, so…yay. I think maybe it’s time to move it outside — it’ll definitely do better with her garden plants since she waters those regularly
Your mom speaks words of life and brings humans back from the dead via the word of God, so I’m sure she can do the same with a little ol’ flower. 😀
Howwww do you kill a succulent LOLLL!! I have watched an orchid slowly die, but that was because I stopped faithfully watering it every week…then when I felt bad and started watering it again, it resurrected for a little while longer. But a cactus?! xD
I’m sooo astonished at the radishes – for some reason, I thought that any garden in urban or suburban areas will always produce stunted veggies, and only out in the rural areas will you get crops of any substantial kind. But these are huge!! I also laughed at the dilemma you came up against: “I wished the plants could just talk to me and tell me what was going on!” Definitely the same with students, but thank God He doesn’t leave us stranded, but works to guide and teach us how to be shepherds like Him.
How do you season your kale chips? I made them exactly once and did not like…very strange texture for me. I guess I just really wanted chips that taste like Cheetos haha
LOL! I was so shocked at my radishes too! You can’t see how big they are until you pull them out. So it was a total surprise. Side note: radishes are really good with lime juice and some chili powder (or Tajin) 😀
As for the kale chips, first make sure the leaves aren’t wet with water. Dry them completely. Then sprinkle with olive oil. I like to keep it simple with just salt, pepper, and maybe garlic powder. Hahah I wish they tasted like cheetos. I’m sure you could put some cheesy powder on them! If you succeed at making kale cheetos, please share that recipe on the blog!!
Radishes with tajin???? Wow. That’s so new to me. But, I suppose, it’ll taste good because I like eating jicama with tajin.
And when you make the kale chips, do you deep fry, shallow fry, or oven bake them?
I bake them in the oven. But I learned the hard way not to bake them for too long haha. Although, they’re still good when they’re burnt.
Wow! 😃This is awesome! Thank you for sharing God’s wisdom! Thanks for the gardening tips too! Caleb and I planted a dead mint leaf in water and in a couple of weeks it sprouted tiny flowers! We were amazed! They looked so beautiful. Msn. Grace said that’s how God must see us… praise God that under His care we can cross over from death to life!
Yummm did you guys eat it with meals? My mom grows mint and it’s so tasty. We actually made some spring rolls yesterday with some non-fancy ingredients (chicken, rice, kimchi) but when we added mint, it was like BOOM – instant deliciousness
What????? You successfully resurrected a dead mint leaf? That is so cool……
I planted mint before, and it was growing very well until I killed it. And I tried everything that I could think of to resurrect it, but nothing works. 😔
And God’s work in our life is indeed very amazing. From dead mint leaves that are probably full of holes, into beautiful and fragrant mint trees with beautiful flowers. Praise God for his transformation work in each of us.
Awww that’s so beautiful. Wow. Dead mint leaf to beautiful blossom. Praise God. He is our master gardener 🙂
These are some useful tips that we can use for the brothers’ struggling/under development version of this… After the first attack of bugs, I thought it was over but I am definitely encouraged by the persistence in overcoming the bugs and it resulted in fruit! Good insight to use this parable in helping God’s sheep
Do bugs attack your banana tree? Because that tree must be protected at all costs. I seriously never liked bananas until I tasted the ones grown at the Common Life. DEFEND THE BANANAS!!!
Haha! the bugs WANT you to think it’s over, so you’ll give up. Reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and how the demon kept trying to sway the man away from his faith. Anyway, maybe you can share some pictures of the brothers’ garden when it grows more.
Yeah. Let’s apply these tips to our dragon fruit and avocado trees, and most importantly our sheep. 😁
You have avocado trees @ the common life now??!!??
Sheesh, it IS like the Garden of Eden.
“It takes a lot of patience and dedication.” These are exactly what I need in both taking care of my sheep and in gardening. I feel like this is a slight rebuke from God for me. I’m definitely still lacking both of these.
In gardening, usually, I’m dedicated and patient for several weeks. But then, once the bug attack comes, I just give up on the plants. And in shepherding, there are times when I get frustrated because of sheep’s stubbornness, and I even think of giving up on them. 😔 But, it’s time for me to apply tip #5. I need to show both my sheep and my plants extra love and patience, cause this is how God has been dealing with me. 😆
Thank you very much for the awesome and much needed tips (both for gardening and for raising disciples). I’m planting some lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs in the common life right now, and perhaps, by applying this lecture, the hard ground of the common life will be a little more like the garden of Eden, filled with plants that are pleasing to the eyes (and to the tummy), and plants that produce aromatic scent. 😁
Haha, I feel like tip #5 should be tip #1. That’s the most important yet also the most difficult one. But yes, I pray that God may bless your garden and your struggles with sheep!
“Don’t give up on dying plants! Just like sheep, they may just need a little extra love and patience.” 😀 I’ve been trying to grow avocados, and I often achieve deep roots, but the plant itself doesn’t sprout, or just barely does before becoming moldy – reminds me of a parable I resonate with. Beautiful article. So many ways God can speak to us through gardening.
Ohhh avocados! Once when I was a kid I saw what I thought was a tiny avocado raise its stem toward a hummingbird – turned out the “avocado” was actually a baby hummingbird xD There was a huge tree in the church playground that left fruit all over the ground. Maybe the secret of growing lots of avocados is planting by a church? Haha