Each garden bears the signature of its gardener. Life-sized and public, it lies there on your street or on your land. Your garden says something about your personality, visible to any observant passer-by.The path through our vegetable garden is long.
On the right and left, you walk through a sea of wild flowers. Neatly raked beds, efficient and full of vegetables neatly in a row, alternate with somewhat wilder patches. One has more flowers, the other more vegetables or even a large area for hanging out.
Every evening, we have a regular rhythm during these hot Summer days. Jelle calmly and rhythmically pumps the water from the ground. We empty our two watering cans many times onto the thirsty, sandy soil of this area. The evening sun sets, and day after day reveals different scenes in the sky. I pull some weeds here and there, inspect, move some dried grass, welcome the young plants, and plan ahead.
The farmer who owns this land has already removed the potatoes he planted here, so he has lent this plot also. I added some cabbage, beans and other vegetables that still have time to come to maturity. The summers are short here, so we have to adjust. I cover the soil with grass to prevent it from drying out and keep back weeds. It’s been hot for this northern part of Europe, but with an adapted rhythm, it is enjoyable.
Sometimes, we are already in the swimming pool at 7:00 a.m., and I am in the garden shed at 2 p.m., finishing the night.The thin wooden wall of the garden shed is also the edge of the chicken coop. I hear them scurrying. The maple leaves that overhang the garden shed rustle in the wind.
What would I like to do now in these glorious few weeks when there are no obligations?“
I close my eyes and see the leeks in full glory, the beans, the courgettes. The strawberry season is almost over, and so are the cherries. The abundance of life in our vegetable garden overwhelms me.
“One is nearer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth,” my friend Dieneke wrote recently.
I like to be inclusive. I initially allowed this preference to extend to all the greenery that came up from the black earth. Nothing was considered a weed. All comers were welcome. But after a few weeks, I had to adjust this generous attitude in the garden. I still think everyone is welcome, but some greens disappear on the compost heap to make more black soil.
What’s for dinner tonight? Beans and flowers from the garden.
When we finish watering the plants, we always sit down for a few minutes to enjoy the scenery, the silence, and the garden. Jelle laughed and said last week: “My oh my. It really is a Jannekegarden—wild, free and with a bit of structure, but definitely not too much.”
Harvest. When I started gardening earlier this year, I set my standards nice and low: “I’ll be happy with whatever comes up.” But I have been pleasantly surprised: Not a day goes by without there being something to harvest—a few handfuls each of beans and carrots, endives, spinach, blackberries.
A regular day’s harvest.
Not much can go wrong. The only thing that is really needed is to keep up with it. Stay attuned with your garden. Observe it and give it attention. Isn’t it the same when it comes to caring for our souls?
How are we going to save everything for the winter? Our small freezer can store a few loaves of bread and some snacks, so it’s not an option for storing our harvest. Throughout the long winter, I have been saving the jars from various purchased canned goods until they made their presence felt and nearly burst out of our cupboards—100 jars.
As I lazily sit thinking in my tiny garden house, I decide: I’m going to can these 100 jars. It’s a lot. But it will be so satisfying. This is my way of nurturing my soul. And so laziness and action often alternate here.
First canning: Sweet and Sour courgette.
The big problems are incalculable on a large scale. The wars, the climate change, the tension in our country surrounding agriculture and politics. But this is what I can do, in my little corner: tend my garden, process the harvest, and feed our family with local products. And who knows, in the meantime, I may learn something of the Creator’s qualities—perseverance, faithfulness, abundance. The heavens declare the Glory of the Lord after all.
And here, for a Dutch acquaintance that you might have, please, do sent it forward: