Nothing compares to the joy one feels in serving a salad fresh from the garden. Sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes, crisp ruffled lettuce leaves, freshly sliced cucumbers, and crunchy bell peppers with a rainbow of bright colors… just a little bowl of heaven. Instant human: just add a garden.
Of course, we are still a few weeks shy of that special garden salad but we are looking forward to the day I can post pictures for you to see. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the garden, some tips, and interesting factoids for some midweek brain wowing:
The potatoes are lovely this year and the homemade bug spray appears to have discouraged the potato bugs from descending upon our crop. We are keeping fingers and toes crossed that we have a decent harvest. A happy potato vine is one of the prettiest sites in the garden. Don’t you think? With heart-shaped leaves and rich greens or purples, the plants are lovely as well as functional.
The tomatoes are slowly making an appearance. Although small in size, the tomato plants seem to be coming along nicely with the first few fruits budding. Here are some basic tips for great tomatoes without having to resort to using harmful chemicals or products like Miracle Gro:
- Remove the bottom leaves once the plants are 3 feet tall to prevent fungus from taking over.
- Pinch off any growth at joints. Those little leaves at the joints are never productive and simply take away from fruit-bearing limbs.
- Prune leaves that may block sunlight from growing fruit. Lots of sunlight makes for more flavorful tomatoes.
- Water regularly and try not to skip a day or week.
The bell and jalapeno peppers are just beginning to bud. Pepper plants are plucky things and so forgiving of too much rain or poor location. I wonder if those qualities are passed on to us when we consume them? Perhaps peppers are a natural Prozac. Of course, the very act of gardening ups the production of serotonin and I believe that God gave us dirt and seeds knowing that we were in need of that balance.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (food).” (Genesis 1:29, KJV)
God is a genius. Dirt contains mycobacterium vaccae bacteria, which recent studies proved to increase the vitality and cognitive function in cancer patients. It also lessened their pain. The theory is that the bacteria causes brain cells to release more serotonin — the happy brain chemical. You can read more about the study in this article: Soil Bacteria Might Help with Depression. The day may come when doctors tell their patients to just go home and plant a garden instead of prescribing antidepressants and/or pain meds. Hey, it could happen!
With all of that in mind, the first salad from the garden takes on even more importance and is a terrific metaphor. The garden feeds more than our nutritional needs — but the needs of the soul — and that first salad is proof of God’s infinite love for us.
How is your garden?