This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 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 2 of 8)

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 always does very well:


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!


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:


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

Garden – Spring & Summer 2018

I meant to post a blog post about our garden goings-on earlier in the year, but didn’t get to it, so here is a catchup blog post about the Lord’s provisions from the gardens from Spring and Summer so far this 2018!


In our last garden blog post, we mentioned we planted garlic last year:

Garlic Plants

Well, back in May it was harvest time! Thanks to the Stonger boys for the help!

Garlic Harvesting

Garlic Harvested

Time to dry them out for a couple of days, and then I hung them in the meat dryer to cure:

Hanging Garlic To Dry

Drying Garlic

And here are the final results, with those ready for next year, Lord willing, on the left, and the ones for use this year on the right!

Garlic Harvest Ready to Use

Then, it was to time for the main spring garden. It needed some weeding first, and thanks again to the Stonger boys:

Garden Weeding

And then we planted beans, squash, and spaghetti squash:

Bean Plants

Squash Plants

Spaghetti Squash Plants

And here they are about a month later:

Bean Plants Growing

Squash Plants Growing


More Squash

Spaghetti Squash Plants Growing

Spaghetti Squash

And here are some of the results!

First Squash 2018

Squash chips! Yum! (see recipe here):

Squash Chips

Here’s a freebee turnip plant from seed thrown down in previous years (more on this in the Summer part):

Freebee Turnip Plant

And then it was time to plant okra, which usually works very well around here:

Okra Sprouts

Here I tried throwing a bunch in rows, just to see how it worked:

Okra Sprouts

We also wanted to do sweet potatoes again this year after good success, thanks to God, from last year (see last garden update in the link above).

In fact, here’s a freebee from last year’s planting!

Freebee Sweet Potato

We tried to start our own slips, but they sadly just never grew:

Trying to Grow Sweet Potato Slips

And so we purchased some:

Sweet Potato Slips

And here’s the area we cleared and where they have gone:

Sweet Potato Cleared Planting Area


Sue got to processing the spaghetti squash by this time, and here are the results! Yum again!

Spaghetti Squash Fruit

She roasted some:

Spaghetti Squash Fruit Prepared for Roasting

Cut Spaghetti Squash Fruit

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

And made “pasta” from the “spaghetti”:

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

And here’s part of the squash haul, and them cut and preserved in apple cider vinegar:

Squash Harvest

Squash Preserved in Apple Cider Vinegar

Here’s the freebee turnip — nice!

Freebee Turnip

Thanks to inspector Mimi for allowing it to pass inspection! 😉

Mimi Inspecting the Turnip

Finally, here we are catching up to today. We’ve had a very hot spring and summer, and drought conditions, so some things are barely hanging on, although we do have rain percentages this week, during which we pray the Lord grants rain. But, here are the beans:

Bean Plants

Separated okra plant (many which got razed by something early on):

Okra Plants

And in rows:

Okra Plants in Rows

And okra fruit:

Okra Fruit

Here’s the freebee sweet potato from above:

Freebee Sweet Potato Plant

And another one that grew by itself:

Another Freebee Sweet Potato Plant

And the sweet potato bed:

Sweet Potato Bed

We are extremely grateful to the Lord for Him granting the provisions from the gardens this year so far, and we ask for those continued as He might will. We thank Him for the spots of rain He has provided to keep things going, and we always pray He grant spiritual rains of nourishment in our hearts so that we may thrive and grow spiritually for His glory in obedience to and more like Christ Jesus!

— David

Garden – Fall & Winter 2017-2018

We thought we would catch you up on how the garden ended up in Fall of last year, including our foray into the adventure of sweet potato growing, and where we are today!

Here are the final days of the 2017 garden before the freezes started to hit…

This is the one plant, a broccoli, that grew from the first Spring planting. I have picked off a few broccoli heads and have eaten them as I’ve walked by 🙂 :

Broccoli Plant

Here is our gogi berry plant:

Gogi Berry

And these are our blackberry plants:

Blackberry Plants

Here are the okra plants third week in October:


But then the freeze was coming, and so we covered them. They looked a little creepy like this actually… 🙂

Okra Covered with Blankets

And sadly, they still didn’t fare well, and so that was about the end of them for the year:

Okra After Freeze

But before that, we thought we would try to save some okra seeds this year to plant next year as part of our continued effort to get sustaining here. We pray God might grant this to work!

Saving Okra Seeds

Sweet Potatoes

I mentioned in our last real garden update that we planted sweet potato slips this year. This is our second attempt, with the first one in our raised beds only yielding a few small ones.

Sweet Potatoes Plants

Again of Sweet Potatoes Plants

This year however, and I think it has a lot to do with that we’re using the forest bed mulching technique we’ve discussed before, God graciously granted some quite nice ones!

We harvested the beginning of October. The first one I pulled out was half rotted, very mushy, and I was worried they all would be like that, but most were thankfully just fine! You’re supposed to be very careful pulling them out so as to not damage the tender skin, which hardens later.

Harvesting a Sweet Potato

Here’s a stack of them:

Stack of Sweet Potatoes

And Sue with an American football-sized one:

More of Sweet Potatoes

And this is just to give a size perspective:

Sizing Sweet Potatoes

Here they are in the wheelbarrow being taken to the house for curing. Using the information from a website about curing sweet potatoes, we let them open-air cure just on the ground in a couple places in the house for probably about three weeks:

Sweet Potatoes in Wheel Barrow

And then wrapped them up individually in newspaper to go into the root cellar for another six weeks. Apparently the longer you can wait to harvest, even just after the first light frost, and giving them that long to cure allows the sugars to form in them, which gives them a good taste, and without which they apparently taste very bland:

Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

And finally, last week, we started pulling them out of the root cellar, and they appear to be still ok….yea, and thank the Lord!

Here, Sue is putting them into a meal:

Cutting Sweet Potatoes

And into the pan (although there is one store-bought mixed in). But, they do indeed taste great, and again we are very thankful to God for these provisions off of the land!

Cut Sweet Potatoes


Since we have larger garden areas with which to be able to plant both for Winter and Spring, we are attempting garlic again this year, planting cloves the Stongers graciously gave us. This is just this week after the big freeze we went through here:


And the wild lettuce, which I believe is the prickly lettuce I mentioned before, is coming back too!

Prickly Lettuce

As always and again, we are very thankful to the Lord for His providence in granting sustenance from the gardens! We pray He might continue to, as He will, and that He guide us into more and better ways to live off of the land in direct dependence on Him!

— David

Preserving Okra in Cheap Apple Cider Vinegar

Having lived in Texas over ten years now I can see why okra is so popular in the South. In our personal experience with hot Texas summers, we have found that okra is one of those crops that thumbs its nose at the hot, sweltering Texas sun and says “Come on, is that the best you got?” It is an extremely prolific, heat/drought tolerant crop that has done well for us every time we have planted it so far, thank the Lord.

This has presented a problem, albeit a good problem, for me in terms of the best way to capture and preserve it. You can certainly pressure can it but that is not our preference because we like to preserve it with all of its nutrients and freshness. Okra is a nutrient powerhouse, so we are excited and very motivated to incorporate it into our diets.

The last couple of years I cut it up and lacto-fermented it in a salt brine but found I didn’t prefer it for a couple of reasons. For those of you who don’t know, okra has this “snotty”, “mucusy” stuff inside each pod that is really healthy and beneficial but kind of gross. And, for some reason, I still haven’t nailed the salt brine recipe and have had a lot of hits and misses.

Thankfully, some time last year my friend and neighbor, Shannon, and I were talking about okra and she mentioned lacto-fermenting it leaving the okra pod in tact and not cutting it up. I was very excited when she mentioned that and was eager to try it. First of all, it meant a lot less prep time and also, maybe a reduction of the “snot” factor.

Fast forward to mid-summer and our okra plants were starting to produce each day. If you’ve ever grown okra, you know that it grows measurably every day. You could probably sit and literally watch it grow if you had the time. At first, I cut them up and put them fresh in our salads each night, which is crunchy and delicious, by the way, and the “snotty” factor is virtually non-existent in fresh, cold okra. But then the floodgates opened and a big okra surplus started to mount up. I remembered I had preserved garlic cloves in apple cider vinegar and really liked the flavor so I decided to do the same with okra. I went out and bought a really cheap jug of apple cider vinegar at the store and off I went!

Here is our beeeeeautiful okra, probably just one days worth:

Okra in a Bowl

So I quickly rinse them and, it’s not necessary but I like to cut off the stems so they fit in the jars better:

Cutting Ends Off of Okra

Then I just shove them in the jars however they will fit:

Putting Whole Okra in Jars
Jars of Whole Okra

You can usually get a gallon jug of cheap apple cider vinegar for under three dollars. Even though it is not organic with “the mother” in it (a colony of beneficial bacteria promoting good gut health), cheap apple cider vinegar is still a great preservation vehicle and a pre-biotic, which means it feeds probiotics. So it’s still a great way to preserve. It also provides a really nice pickling-like taste:

Apple Cider Vinegar for Preserving Okra

I just pour in the apple cider vinegar and leave about 1″ space at the top:

Pouring Apple Cider Vinegar into Jars of Okra

A very important step that I had forgotten but a friend reminded me, is placing in the jars something that contains tannin. This keeps the okra nice and crunchy, where it would otherwise become soft and mushy over time. Thankfully, we have oak and mesquite trees right outside our house, so I just place a few leaves of one or the other in each jar.

Another step worth noting is that you may find you need to burp your jars for the first few days to release the buildup of any CO2 (carbon dioxide) gases. But since you are not waiting for an official fermenting process, you can eat the pods as soon as you like!

Jars of Preserved Okra

All in all, we preserved over 50 quarts of okra this garden season, all thanks to God for bringing the increase! I went ahead and numbered each jar so we can be sure to eat the oldest ones first. Since the pickle taste can be pretty tangy, I quickly rinse the pods before I put them in salads, etc., and it leaves a really nice pickled okra taste. You may wish to add in any other spices/flavors to customize your preserved okra to your liking. If you want to tone down the tang, just soak the okra in filtered water over several hours before you want to use it.

This way of preserving should keep for many months, although your experience may vary.

Jars of Preserved Okra Marked for Organization

We are extremely thankful to God for His bountiful okra harvest and a very quick and simple way to preserve it!


Garden – Summer 2017

This is our first garden update for 2017, although we actually did plant a Spring garden…

In times past, I’ve tried to plant regardless of how well set up the environment was — “Oh, it doesn’t really matter how the soil is…just put the seed in the ground!” Well, as I’ve found out, and I’m sure anyone reading this who has successfully done gardening realizes, that doesn’t work, and is of course not biblical (the soil must be good to bring forth fruit — see (Matt 13:1-23).

Anyway, I thought this year, I’m going to dig out any of our clay soil and put in compost, and then plant…even though our seeds are really old. Well, as I found out once again, and those reading this who have done gardening know, old seeds don’t work either.


Out of the maybe 150 or more (at a guess) seeds I planted, here is the one plant that grew, a broccoli I believe:

Spring 2017 Broccoli

I believe now! 🙂 And we are thankful for this one plant. May God prepare the soil of our hearts by His Spirit and plant His gospel and law in it so it will bring forth much fruit, and we will be obedient to Him!

Following that, and waiting until the ground warmed up, the plan was to plant okra, which works well out here. I dug out holes, filled with compost as needed, and used seeds given to us by a gracious person…from this year! 🙂

Well, not that we’re entitled to anything, or that God is under obligation to grow anything, or that these things happen without Him gifting them, in His graces, He has caused them to grow, and start to bring forth the edibles!

Spring 2017 Okra Plants

Spring 2017 Okra Fruit

Here’s a hopeful okra. Beautiful, not only visually, but in the potential of fruit coming from it (like even the lowest of Christians, because they have the image of Christ stamped on them)…

Spring 2017 Okra Flower

Also, in our other garden area, Mr. Bunker graciously gave us some sweet potato cuttings. After, I put the root ends under the mulch against the ground and then covering them with the mulch that was there, I found I really needed to water them well, but once doing that, the vines really started to take off, and here is how they are now:

Spring 2017 Sweet Potato Vines

Finally, Mr. Stonger also graciously gave us a goji berry bush and a couple of blackberry cuttings, which have been doing well…

The goji berry bush put out quite a few berries earlier in the year, but once heat hit it, it lost a lot of its leaves, so I started watering it a lot, and it has come back nicely, thanks to God.

Spring 2017 Goji Berry Bush

There’s even a berry there now, and some purple flowers growing:

Spring 2017 Goji Berry & Flowers

And here are the blackberry plants. I had to put them in tomato plant cones to give them some support. Also earlier in the year we got a couple of blackberries, which were yummy!

Spring 2017 Blackberry Plants

As always, we are very grateful to the Lord for His provisions, and the understanding about Him we can gain through being involved in His creation and studying His word!

— David

Garden – Fall 2016 – Update I

Even though we gave a mid-October update on our 2016 garden, outside conditions were still conducive for the garden plants to keep going…

The weather here where we are at is difficult at times in regards to gardens at the end of the year, because what often happens is we will still be having garden-friendly weather, and then a cold snap will hit, followed by weeks of fine weather before another one, or before the cold really starts to take hold for the winter.

The end of last year was like that, and so for the first cold snap, we covered all of our garden plants because they appeared to still be producing. This was November 20:

Here is the tomato plant:

2016 Fall Garden Tomatoes Covered for Cold Snap

And the okra plants:

2016 Fall Garden Okra Covered for Cold Snap

And then here is the okra uncovered after the freeze:

2016 Fall Garden Okra After Freeze

To elevate the blankets over the okra, I ironically used tomato cones:

Tomato Cones Around Okra to Elevate Cover Blankets

And here is the tomato plant uncovered. This plant was a volunteer tomato plant, and I believe is all one big one that just grew and grew:

Tomato Plant After Freeze

And these are two volunteer tomato plants that grew outside the garden on the west side of our house:

Other Tomato Plants After Freeze

But finally, after about another month, the next big cold snap was on the way, so we decided to just pull everything left. Mostly there were only tomatoes, and here you can see the final haul:

Tomato Plant with Tomatoes Picked

Final Basket Haul of Tomatoes

From that point, we just spread them out on newspaper in the house to let them ripen, and then we ate them as they did! Yummy! We even have a few left! 🙂

We are always grateful to the Lord for granting what He decides to from our gardens! We pray He continue to guide us in developing our gardens and homesteads, for His glory and the benefit of His Church.

— David

Garden – Fall 2016

It’s been some time since our last garden update, and so we thought we’d post an update on some of the results…

Last Year’s Butternut Squash

First, earlier in the year, Sue decided to process our butternut squash from last year that had been stored in the root cellar up until that point.

Here is a basket of it:

Basket of Butternut Squash

She then peeled it:

Peeling Butternut Squash

And cleaned out the innards:

Cleaned Out Butternut Squash

And sliced them up, and then pressure canned them. Nice! Thanks to the Lord for them, and being able to store them all that time in the root cellar to be able to be processed later:

Sliced Up Butternut Squash

Winter Peas & Beets

We did get to enjoy quite a few peas we mentioned in the last blog post, and a few beets, in salads and the like. Given the fact we had laid down a new, thick mulch layer before planting these, we are thankful to God for what we received!

Here are some of the peas:



Fall Garden

Catching up to now, we planted okra during the summer, given how prolific they are and needing warmer soil. I used older seeds, and with the new mulch layer and harder soil underneath, continued to have trouble getting things going.

However, we bought some new seeds, and those worked better, although we got a late start because that was our third iteration of seed planting:

Okra Plants

Here’s our best one:

Large Okra Plant

And an okra! Right now with as few as we have, we’re just eating them in salads as we receive them:


We had something in our garden slicing off smaller okra plants across the stem, but I took one of the cutoff branches and thought I’d try planting it in the soil, and it’s actually still making it, with a little okra on it too!

Planted Okra Branch

This plant in front of this picture grew in a place where I didn’t specifically plant something. I’m assuming it’s an okra too, but it is a surprise plant!

Surprise Plant

And this is a little okra still struggling away. I continue to water it; I don’t want to give up on it as for me there is always hope.

This little plant reminds me of me, and my struggle for spiritual growth and where I see great lack. I pray and hope the Lord continues to water me that I may one day produce the fruit of His graces, and that He doesn’t give up on me either:

Tiny, Struggling Okra Plant

Also in garden 1 here, there are a couple of volunteer plants that just sprung up by themselves from seeds of seasons past.

The front one is all one big tomato plant, and the back a zucchini I believe, although we have just not had zucchini or squash work in this garden area. I’m not sure why: the plants grow big and green, but just no fruit. Maybe because it’s in the shade? Maybe because there is an odorous wild brush that grows behind it hiding the zucchini flower odors from pollinating insects? I’m just not sure, although there is a little one that has been growing on it, but just isn’t healthy:

Volunteer Tomato Plant & Zucchini

And here are some tomatoes!


Lastly, here is the only cabbage that has made it since it was planted in the winter, and it’s starting to re-grow:


Over in garden 2, as mentioned in the last garden blog post, I scattered turnip seeds there, and here are the results so far! These have grown with zero work or effort on our part, and thanks to the Lord we have greens for our salads from these as well:

Turnip Plants

And some turnips!


As always, we consider all of these things gifts from God, and we try to always be thankful, as we believe these are all granted by Him by His graces and mercies alone. Indeed we thank Him!

— David

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