By Amy Balzer-Pemberton
I wasn’t a gardener–I didn’t even like to get my hands dirty. But when we purchased our home with a big, long-neglected backyard in 2002, I became one.
I loved hours spent in the yard; raking, planting, dreaming. Always following up a successful day with time in the hammock or enjoying a bonfire with our new neighbors who were a wonderful support to us.
I looked forward to my peaceful time to be in nature, feeling very close to God. I still love to spend time in prayer with Him while elbow deep in His creations! That first year I had planted eight big beautiful flower beds, lovingly tending to them, watching them bloom, and learning about plants.
Then we had a baby. Now I have one flower bed, one small garden, and many potted containers.
“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this…” – Job 12:7-9
Exploring nature has been a wonderful gift for us to share with our son Liam, who is now 9 1/2 years old. While he and I were cleaning up leftover leaves from the fall and every whirligig in Washtenaw County last weekend, he was sharing his newfound knowledge of worms. What a great time to talk about God’s creations with him and how even the tiniest detail has lovingly and carefully planned by our Father.
One thing we want to try in our garden this year is a called a Three Sisters Garden. It is comprised of corn, beans, and squash who each support and benefit the sister plants.
This is what I learned from the website Renee’s Garden:
Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years’ corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops’ chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.
Corn, beans, and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates; the dried beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.
Isn’t it amazing to think how God planned ALL these beautiful things we live among? How they all work together for the betterment of others? Our world is truly amazing! I see the beautiful flowers, the delicious fruit, trees that give us shade, all as one big love letter from God.
June 7 and 14 we will have the opportunity to “share” our love letters via the Second Annual Gardens for Growth Sale at St. Luke-AA. Check out your gardens and dig up, pot, and label those spreading and multiplying plants, bushes, and trees that have overgrown their space. Houseplants, herbs, veggie plants, and seedlings are welcome as well.
These plants can be a blessing to others as well as help our church. Donations for the plants will be used towards the reduction of the mortgage, and this is a great way to support that effort.
Instructions for Planting Your Own Three Sisters Garden in a 10 x 10 square can be found here.