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The land yields its harvest; God, our God blesses us.
~Psalm 67:6

2015 was a very different growing year for a few reasons:

First, it was the hottest summer on record, and even providing ample water could not protect some leaves and fruit from singeing in the oppressive heat. 

For example, many of our marionberries withered on the vine before we could pick them or before they had even grown large enough. We still had plenty though!

Marionberry Harvest in early July

Second, we planted our garden and then were madly busy with a house remodel and preparing to leave for China. I noticed that weeds were encroaching but simply did not have the time or inclination to deal with them before we left. By the time we returned from China at the end of June, knee-high weeds blanketed most of our garden. (Come on Grandparents, could you not watch three of our children, 17 chickens, two cows, two goats, two dogs, two goldfish and one cat, PLUS weed our garden??? Seriously, they were heroic.) It took several hours of weeding to get it back under control and we lost some valuable growing time while we were gone, which was a critical point in the season. 

The happy side

Third, Caleb set up a new irrigation system because I had to water so much by hand last year. (Bless that man!) One row was on a soaker hose – a porous hose that seeps water along its whole length, and one row was on a drip system -a long tube attached to smaller emitter tubes that drip water at the base of a plant. As the summer progressed, you could clearly see by the luscious foliage and prolific fruiting, which row was happiest. Any guesses? The drip-hose row was clearly thriving, while the soaker-hose row was clearly suffering. We will certainly repair this for next year, but by the time we realized our error, we had lost all of our cucumber plants, except for one sad little lemon cucumber that produced about ten billiard-ball sized cucumbers all summer. 

It irked me to buy 20 pounds of pickling cucumbers at $1.50/lb when I had already spent $10 on pickling cucumber plants that died. But, seeing as how much Caleb loves my garlic dills, and how stingy I had to be all last year rationing them because I refused to buy any pickling cucumbers that didn’t come from my own garden, it seemed like money well spent. (And an appropriate thank you for not making me water by hand each day as I had to last summer.)

Some of my pickles, photo courtesy of

Fourth, I had other priorities this summer. I was settling our fifth child into our family and I just didn’t spend as much time in my garden as I did last summer. But you know what is so amazing? On some level, Nature, via the miracle that is God’s Creation, just does its thing. So even though there were weeds and pests and water issues, our harvest was still bountiful. Our family still ate fresh food all summer and will continue to eat what we’ve canned, dried, and frozen throughout the coming year. 

I had always told myself when I had a larger kitchen I would allow the kids to help me with canning. (It literally was not possible in my old kitchen.) Well, I made good on it and had them help me with marionberry jam. Phew, was it stressful (and slightly terrifying) with all those gallons of boiling water and pounds of berries that need to be stirred constantly so as not to burn and the delicate timing of everything. But it turned out well and we will enjoy it all winter. 

Maybe it was fitting that it was a different growing year, as it was also a different life year, with a lot of change: good, hard, beautiful change. Months without a kitchen, but then moving into a space that will bless our family for years to come, an exhilarating trip to China and becoming a mother again, getting to know this sweet boy who is now part of our family, trying to figure out how to homeschool with a two and three year old (I’ll let you know if I figure it out). There are so many variables in growing a garden, in growing up children, in growing into the person God intends me to be, but the one invariable is God himself, for which I am thankful. 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows.
~James 1:17
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