Growing Chocolates

Chocolate-farmingHmmm… I just got a great inspiration from friends Jamie and Terri talking on the radio. They were listing their top five things that they think they spend too much money on. Chocolate!! Why do chocolates cost so much? Because we can’t grow our own.

That got my imagination moving into overdrive. Wonder if we could grow our own chocolates? Wouldn’t that be great? Come on ladies, are you with me here? Imagine with me just for fun.

You’d take your seeds of Nestle (TM) Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and place them in a shallow furrow of prepared earth. Of course once you’d placed the seeds in the ground you would carefully mark the row with a dusting line of white powdered sugar so that you could consistently “water” for best production. And we would fertilize with Hershey’s (TM) Cocoa Powder every two weeks for increased flavor.

Naturally, we would not use real H2O. Oh no! We would be “watering” with Hersheys (TM) Dark Chocolate Syrup. We must water at least twice a day until the seedlings start to sprout to a height of two inches when we would thin the row to ensure larger healthier plants. Just go ahead and eat those little seedlings, they are delicious and full of fiber and NO calories. I only grow the best, guilt free variety, you know.

Is your mouth watering yet?  As maturation takes place it is important to watch for unwanted weeds like those pesky rice crunchies and invasive almonds. Oh no you don’t!! This is a pure, rich, melt in your mouth, smooth crop of chocolate we are working on here. Pull those invasives from the roots and chuck them outta there!

Now, remember, our chocolate plants are a “cool weather” crop. Trying to grow them in the months of July and August can easily result in a sticky, melty mess. Fortunately, the chocolate plants are unattractive to the Japanese beetles and slugs that take out so much of the rest of the garden. So, I say, let’s forget about the lettuce and the brocolli and grow ONLY chocolate with a few tomatoes, sweet corn and melons filling in during the hot months.

The nice thing about growing my imaginary chocolate plants is the idea of strolling out into my garden and eating fresh from the garden!! YOU know what I mean. When the true farmer strolls out into the garden to bring in a harvest, one of the perks of the job is eating some of the crop before it even hits the harvesting basket! Oooooh, la la!

Now, dear friends, you know that God chose to start man’s life in a garden. You tell me… what more heavenly garden can there be than a garden full of chocolate? Thanks for coming on this little diversion in divinity with me, it’s always good to share. Anybody else having a chocolate craving?

Gardening: A part of the Miracle

I really do enjoy gardening.

I would rather spend all day out there than do laundry, wash dishes, vacuum or grocery shop. There is just something about digging into the dirt, breaking up the tough crust of the earth and pulling out the weeds that is therapeutic. The feel of the worked soil and the actual smell of the earth and fresh plants adds to the sense of feeling like I’m a part of creation.

Since my shoulder injury at the beginning of July, I am really missing the time that I used to spend gardening. Even mowing the grass was “gardening” to me. Plus, I would be getting fresh air and exercise. Alas, my bum right shoulder is severely painful and limits what I can do.

This past Friday, I received the bad news that I would need to cut physical therapy short and go back to my family doctor for more diagnostic tests (probably an MRI). I simply am NOT getting better even with what PT I can do. In fact I’m getting worse. The therapist thought I should be further in recovery if nothing worse was wrong… so… back to the doctor I will go. UUUGH>- -<

This is bad news for my gardening urges. I have managed to stay on top of critical issues like watering, feeding; dead-heading and harvesting. However… here in Indy we have had quite a bit of rain and the weather is fabulous so vegetation is getting the density of a jungle. And this shoulder makes it extremely difficult to pull weeds. Hoeing/// Forget about it! Running the mower or weed-eater… No Way!

So I must watch in dismay as my garden looks so much more scraggly than it should. I must ask for help from my husband to do things that I would normally do. Humble pie just does not taste as good as the cherry kind.

“Whatever things are true, honest, righteous, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise let your mind dwell on these things. . .” Phillipians 4:8,9

Click here to view To snap out of these bummed shoulder blues… I decided to finally post the many photos I have taken of my garden and flowers so far this year. I hope you all enjoy them.

Growing and Helping Grow

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always enjoyed the garden. I like the idea of helping to make the magic of a garden happen. My brother and I would have some really awesome dirt clod fights as we prepared the seed beds. We did have to put a size limit on what an acceptable dirt clod looked like, or else welts would appear after being pummeled by a hunk of Indiana clay that acted more like granite than dirt. OUCH!

Oh, and the fun times I had as a teenager, driving the tractor as my dad screamed “quit driving so crooked… straighten it up… what are you doing?” Have YOU ever tried to steer a hopping tractor in a straight line when it’s bouncing across ruts and valleys?? Well, it’s not easy. The stripping of the gears and popping of the clutch, the smell of the diesel spewing out of the exhaust that mixed with the smell of the nearby hay, these are but a few of my farmin’ memories.

But after we got through the hard part of removing any boulders or rocks or stumps, turning over the soil, plowing and then discing so that the soil became workable, then we would use the harrow and even out the topsoil. We three older kids got to ride on the top of the harrow on a platform to help weigh it down as Dad pulled it along. It no longer looked like the same landscape. The soil was prepared. It looked receptive. Ready to bear whatever we planted.

That’s when the real fun began. We’d take out the kid’s wagon full of supplies. Seed packets and a few seedlings we’d started inside to be transplanted in our new garden. Dad would lay out some twine between a couple of twigs and hoe a beautiful little furrow. He always knew just how far apart in childrens hand-breadths and how deep in kids finger depth to place the seeds. So we kids were entrusted with the responsibility of following those directions exactly for the crop he had us working on, while he went on to hoe another row. Seed down in the furrow, next seed, cover with dirt, press down firmly and a cup of water to drink… and so the pattern continued for most of the day.

Yes, my father did a wonderful thing in that family garden. He taught his children to appreciate good, hard work. The joy that comes from being a caretaker and a partaker of the fruits of personal labor and God’s gracious miracle of provision.

The Good Book talks about how a seed must die, before it can live. But once it dies in the ground, it sends out a brand new sprout which seeks out the light and pushes it’s way up through the soil. Then it stretches toward the sun and sends out branches and leaves, pods and beans, fruits, etc. All of these in turn, produce even more seeds!! Not to mention some delicious eating for some growing children.

I used to hate it, when Dad would make us go and pull weeds. Especially cutting down thistles that were as tall as I was. But I learned the importance of keeping the weeds down so that the soil’s nutrients would not be robbed from the crop that we desired.

To this day, I so enjoy the feel of the dirt when it is just right. The soil is warm and moist to where I can pull even the deepest dandelion before it sends up colonies of weeds. I love the feel of the dirt on my hands (I only use gloves for the hardcore stuff). Even dirt under my fingernails is not as annoying as it once was. I can smell the minerals in the soil, especially after a nice springtime shower.

As I relive all these pleasant memories, I can’t help but recall all of the similes that are found in a garden. God chose to start His creation of man in a garden. Provision and beauty abounded. There was purpose and fellowship, joy and love in that garden. Yes, the garden is a wonderful illustration of the Marvelous Master Gardener and His loving, nurturing care for me and those I love.

No wonder I love to garden so.