This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: garden (Page 1 of 8)

Garden – Summer 2021

With the abundance of zucchini the Lord granted last year, we decided to only focus on Summer garden plants that work around here — Okra and Black Eyed Peas!

Here’s a picture of the okra, although it’s buried amidst a whole bunch of volunteer (ones we didn’t plant this year) sweet potato plants! We’ll see if anything actually comes of them:

Okra & Sweet Potato Plants

Since there was so much of the sweet potato plants growing by themselves, we took some slips that were growing from the potatoes themselves from last year and planted them. They’re doing ok…you can see a little tuft in the picture above in the lower right from the area where I planted the potato slice itself. You can’t really distinguish them, but there is some growth from the slips we planted along that fence line on the right:

Sweet Potato Slips

Here’s more of the okra and sweet potato plants:

More Okra & Sweet Potato Plants

And here’s a section of black eyed peas. We originally planted some really, really old ones, but nothing happened, so we planted these after the other section below:

Black Eyed Peas Plants

And here’s the first section of black eyed peas planted:

More Black Eyed Peas Plants Plants

And a flower!

Black Eyed Pea Flower

And here’s the view from me in a lounge position on the ground, just to give some height perspective:

Close Up of Black Eyed Peas Plants

As always, we thank the Lord for these little miracles that “just grow” (from our perspective)…we can plant and water, but it takes God’s direct hand of providence to bring forth anything. And we pray He grant us food from them, if He might!

— David

Garden – Spring, Summer & Fall 2020

Just catching up on the garden this 2020, after our Spring-time update. The Lord has been very, very gracious in what He has granted this year…

The zucchinis were coming in fast and furious, and we needed a way to preserve them, so we decided to lacto-ferment as much as we could. That meant lots of shredding, so to help Sue out so she didn’t have to hand-grate everything, we got this nifty contraption that worked just great!

Handcrank Vegetable Shredder

And here are some results!

Grating Zucchini
Stored Grated Zucchini
More Zucchini
Still More Zucchini

We had some help from the neighbor children too!

Neighbor Children Helping Grate Zucchini

And Sue made some yummies from it all too!

Zucchini muffins:

Zucchini Bread Cupcakes

Breaded zucchini:

Breaded Zucchini

Zucchini cake:

Zucchini Cake

Here’s some okra. We did get a few beans, but those just didn’t work out:

Okra & Green Beans

For the okra, we’re storing them in cheap apple cider vinegar. This works great, even over a long period of time. Before we eat them, Sue soaks them in a bowl of water to remove some of the tartness, and that works well too.

Preserved Okra

Here was the garden back in early August:

Garden August 2020

And then October before our first potential freezes. We tried to get the zucchinis and okra through (a little spooky on the okra 🙂 ):

Garden October 2020
Zucchini Plants Covered for Freeze
Okra Plants Covered for Freeze

And here are the Goji berry plants, with a bunch of berries!

Goji Berry Plants October 2020

And this is the garden after the freeze. After we took off the blankets, we ended up getting hit with a freeze on a night that it wasn’t supposed to. It did hurt the zucchinis:

Garden After Freeze
More Garden After Freeze

But, with a freeze, it was time to go get any sweet potatoes out of the ground God might have granted, and here they are, including supervisor William making sure everything is copacetic!

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
More Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

And the final haul inside for curing, and then eventually wrapping in newspaper for long-term storage:

Curing Sweet Potatoes

Finally, this is the garden as of today. Not much left:

Garden November 2020

But, some of the zucchini plants actually started to recover from the freeze, grow new leaves, and one put out it looks like one more zucchini for the road!

Last Zucchini Growing

As I said, the Lord was very gracious this year. Here are the final jars of preserved zucchini and okra. The jar on the left is the top-numbered pint jar, the counting of quart jars in the middle picked up after that number, and then the jar on the right is our final-count okra jar:

Final Preserved Zucchini & Okra Jars

We are humblingly thankful to God for His most gracious provisions. It’s such a blessing to see Him work His direct providence in the garden, watching Him apply the water and nutrients to plants to produce fruit. We pray He do the same in our hearts, producing the fruit of the Spirit, for His glory and maybe the benefit of others!

— David

Garden – Spring 2020

After taking a land sabbath last year, and doing lots of land prep, it was time to get back to planting and by God’s graces growing a garden!

And here is where things are as of a few days ago. When I’m watering each plant, I think how each one is a little miracle from God! A little seed, in the ground, a little tender bud, the plant growing, and then being fruitful if God wills.

Can I make these plants grow and make a bean? No. It’s God that gives the increase.

And it’s the same spiritually:

1 Cor 3:6-7 – “6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Both in the garden, and in the garden of our hearts, truly miracles of grace from the Lord!

But now, back to the garden on our homestead…

Here it is overall:

Garden Spring 2020

And sweet potato plants:

Sweet Potato Plants

Green bean plants:

Green Bean Plants

Zucchini plants and zucchini:

Zucchini Plants

Zucchini

More Zucchini

The first haul!

Still More Zucchini

And okra plants:

Okra Plants

And a few years ago, we were given a Goji berry plant, and it has hung in there:

Goji Berry Plant

With some berries!

Goji Berries

One of the valves on our cistern spigot drips slightly, and all Winter we had it dripping on this Goji plant. We heard they send off root shoots, and boy, did it shoot them off! The main plant is on the left, and all the rest of the offshoots. It’s starting to spread out nicely!

Goji Berry Plant Spreading Root Shoots

Here is a volunteer sweet potato plant from, I assume, plantings of a couple of years ago!

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

And here is one of two black berry plants that were given to us I believe the same time the Goji was. One hasn’t come back, but this one has “died” back a few times, but is still going:

Black Berry Plant

Finally, this is our compost pile. That square is probably a couple of feet longer than the length of a shovel:

Compost Pile

After “processing” our over-aggressive roosters here, we put the remains in the compost pile, but something has discovered that free lunch and digs them out, and you can see left-overs strewn about:

Compost Pile Chicken Parts

We are very thankful to the Lord for granting us the opportunity and provisions to plant a garden this year! And we pray for and are grateful to Him for any increase He might grant, in our garden, in our hearts, and in the hearts of our families, friends, those we know, and even those we don’t. We pray the Lord grant a great increase in His kingdom, and may He guide and use us in what small ways He might in the planting and watering of people’s hearts to that end!

— David

Garden – Summer 2019

Being 14 years here this year, we took a sabbath year off for the gardens, and took the opportunity to do a complete re-covering of mulch on top of the garden beds, having started this process of “forest bed” mulching, which is laying down the mulch so that it composts over time and helps keep in moisture, back in 2012.

One thing the Lord has graciously granted is that prickly lettuce, which is a wild lettuce, grow here.

And wow, did it grow here this year! All that jungle basically is prickly lettuce! But, I needed it weed-wacked, so I worked to that end:

Garden Overgrowth of Prickly Lettuce

Cutting Garden Overgrowth of Prickly Lettuce

And here’s a quick video of that during that time:


And here it is after the fact:

Garden Mowing Completed

Then, it was time to cover it all:

New Mulch Layer on Garden 1

More New Mulch Layer on Garden 1

And then onto garden 2, which was overgrown the same way as garden 1. Once mowed, thankfully, I was able to cover it in only 4 trips:

Starting New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

Continuing New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

More New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

Garden 2 New Mulch Layer Complete

Finally, God has graciously granted a few volunteer sweet potato plants! We look forward, Lord willing, to maybe a few bonus side dishes! 😀

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plants

We thank the Lord for the resources to accomplish all of this, and we pray He applies the mulch and all of the micro-biology that He provides in His creation!

— David

Hugelkultur Garden Beds – Update I

One thing we have had to learn here is no matter how much we plan, things do not happen in the way or time frame we think they might. Other priorities, resources, etc. are factors that play into this, and so, we have had to learn to be patient, and to keep working toward the things we are trying to do here, as God would allow, and pray that He leads in them all (ie. that we don’t try to go down paths He doesn’t have for us). We pray for His leading in all areas of our lives, and for the patience to wait on Him, trusting in His love, goodness and wisdom, even if things never end up like we had originally hoped for or planned.

Back in 2013, we did a blog post about starting hugelkultur garden beds, where we explained that generally, this involves burying (below and/or above ground) tree materials, like stumps, trunks or even branches, under your garden soil, and apparently, as the tree material rots, it also becomes very absorbent, and is supposed to help with holding moisture in the garden bed. Back then, we only did one that was in a dug-out bed, but my plan always was to put another one next to it.

Well, back in January of 2018, we started revamping the original hugelkultur bed by adding more branches, and then started on the new one, which was planned to be above ground. My understanding has become that the buried ones are not as good because the water collects in the dug-out bed, and then just gets absorbed into the soil. But, we have it and so re-filled it with branches, and started the new bed with old logs and branches above ground, and Lord willing we’ll eventually see how each fares.

Here is the work from last year. After placing all the old wood, I was able to add on top a load of mulch from the local landfill, where they have a huge, huge pile of it that we can go get pretty inexpensively:

New Wood in Hugelkultur Bed

New Hugelkultur Bed

Wood in Hugelkultur Beds

Covering Hugelkultur Bed in Mulch

Hugelkultur Beds Partially Covered in Mulch

Well, fast forward to this year somewhat recently. I have finally made the time and been able to take the time to start making landfill trips more consistently, and covering the hugelkultur beds was first on the list. I think it took nearly two loads in the back of the truck, where I have a 4-foot high, OSB-walled mulch carrier, to cover it all.

This is how it looked before starting to cover this time:

Ready to Continue Covering Hugelkultur Beds in Mulch

And then after one load, I believe:

More Mulch on Hugelkultur Beds

And then covered in total:

Hugelkultur Beds Covered in Mulch

And now, we hope to be able to try them out next year, as God wills!

We thank the Lord for the resources to build these hugelkultur beds, the safety in all of the trips, and the physical strength to do all of the mulch unloading and spreading; and we pray He applies it to the ground so as to allow the growth of food at some point, if He might, again, in accordance with His will!

— David

Garden – Winter 2018 & Spring 2019

Just a little catch-up on garden events…

Winter 2018

Late last year near the end of December, with the milder weather up to that point, we had an extra squash plant just start to grow from seed planted in the Spring, and after keeping it covered with blankets when necessary, the Lord graciously granted a few squashes, and we thank Him:

Winter 2018 Squash Plant

Winter 2018 Squash Plant

And He granted a turnip to grow too, for which we are thankful as well! Some time ago I just threw down a bunch of turnip seed, and every once in a while a turnip just shows up! 🙂

Winter 2018 Turnip Plant

Winter 2018 Turnip

Spring 2019

We planted garlic at the end of last year, and recently it was time to go get them!

Here is how the area looked in March…lots of weeds, but garlic growing too:

2019 Garlic Garden

2019 Garlic Plant

We pulled one up back then, but there was no bulb on it, so we realized we were still too early. I did put that one garlic back hoping it would continue…

The prickly lettuce that just grows natively here really took over our gardens this year, I believe especially because of the many rains God has graciously granted, so I went into the garlic area and cut everything down that wasn’t garlic, to try to give it all some sun:

Weeding the Garlic Garden

But then about a week and 1/2 later, the garlic plants started looking like they were maybe dying, and we had more rain coming, and I was worried they would start rotting, so I decided to start digging them up…

2019 Garlic Area

This is a planted garlic:

Garlic Plant

I cleared the mulch around it:

Garlic Plant with Mulch Cleared

Dug down the full hand-shovel length at 4-5 points around it, several inches away from the plant, and lifted slightly each time:

Digging Out Garlic Plant

More Digging Out Garlic Plant

And then when the ground around the plant was loose enough, I gently pulled out the bulb:

Dug Out Garlic Plant

Interestingly, some of the garlic plants started to bolt what looked like a new bulb! I wonder if over time that would have planted itself…

Bolting Garlic Plant

I don’t know, but here are some of the harvest results! Not that every plant that sprung up made it up to this point, but after pulling up that one early with nothing on it, and with what I thought was going to potentially be a problem with any garlic bulbs already starting to rot in the ground, the Lord graciously ended up granting that every single plant have at least some bulb on it, including that one I replanted!

Harvested Garlic

More Harvested Garlic

Harvested Garlic in a Bucket

I made a meat dryer some time ago, which is perfect for hanging garlic to dry and cure. Here is after the first part of the garlic was gathered:

Harvested Garlic Hangling in Meat Dryer

And then the rest of it:

More Harvested Garlic Hangling in Meat Dryer

And finally with the meat dryer’s screen panel in place:

Harvested Garlic Hangling in Closed Meat Dryer

We are always very thankful to God for His gracious provisions, and the miracle of taking a seed, which appears dead, and burying it, and then life coming from it, and growing and multiplying itself and being fruitful according to the Lord’s providence alone (ie. I can’t make a garlic bulb just appear), like His word planted in the hearts of men and His Spirit bringing forth new life as He wills, and like His Son, the Lord Christ, dead and buried, but miraculously raised out of the ground again to life! We are eternally grateful to God for the salvific life He brings through Jesus Christ!

— David

Garden – Fall 2018

Since our last garden update, we thought we’d show how the garden has progressed through a difficult drought. With lots of heat and little rain in the Summer, the plants struggled, but coming into Fall, the Lord graciously granted some good rains, to Whom we are thankful.

Here’s a recap of the garden goings-on…

Okra

Okra always does very well:

Okra

But even this year, they struggled, and dropped their leaves early, which is quite unusual. Normally, they stop producing when the freezes come, but it was different this year:

Dried Up Okra Plants

But we are thankful to God for what He granted! And here are some of them preserved in apple cider vinegar:

Okra Preserved in Apple Cider Vinegar

Sweet Potatoes

This year, I planted them in our original garden area. Between the rains, and with hard freezes coming, it was time to get them out of the ground. Here are the main plants the day of:

Sweet Potato Plants

And some volunteer ones from last year:

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

Another Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

Here’s Sue helping dig them out:

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

The uncollected harvest:

Harvested Sweet Potatoes

And then what the Lord graciously granted! It seems less than last year and they are quite a bit smaller, but I put them in a garden that has had only one mulch layer put down, and we went through one of our worst heat spells and droughts this year, so besides the fact that God doesn’t have to grant anything if He doesn’t want to, we are thankful for what He did, with food coming directly from Him!

Bucket of Sweet Potatoes

Now it’s 3 weeks of hardening out in the open, and then 6 weeks into the root cellar, each individually wrapped in newspaper for sweetening! Yum!

Garlic

Since we had a garlic harvest last season, we saved some for planting this year, and completed that process recently too. I believe this is our first time of replanting our own!

Here is the beautiful soil the Lord composted over the last year, into which we planted the garlic cloves:

Compost Pile

Composted Soil

And a newer pile we had started:

Newer Compost Pile

And here are the garlic plants starting to sprout up!

Garlic Plants

We pray for God’s provisions from these next year, as He wills.

Around the Garden

Here are some other things currently growing in the garden…

The Goji berry plant:

Gogi Berry Plant

The blackberries, which died back, but started growing from the roots again:

Blackberry Plant

Another Blackberry Plant

Our little volunteer squash plant. I cover it with double blankets most nights 🙂 :

Volunteer Squash Plant

A volunteer tomato plant. It had little flowers on it, but sadly,even covered with blankets, didn’t make it because of the cold:

Volunteer Tomato Plant

Free prickly lettuce:

Volunteer Prickly Lettuce

And a volunteer turnip:

Volunteer Turnip Plant

And finally, I thought I would include here the last from the orchard, this year’s pecans. Once again, I think the drought really made things struggle:

Pecans

But, as always, we are very thankful to the Lord for granting all these provisions! May we be humbled He even considers giving these things at all, and may we be satisfied with, and thankful for, what He does. And may He grant us to be fruitful followers of Him as well!

— David

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