This is the second year Jason and I planted a garden at our new home. The first year, Jason and I didn’t have the money saved to buy all the equipment we needed. With the help of my father, a friend and our neighbor, we were able to turn the soil and disk it to kill the grass and aerate it. Immediately, both my dad and neighbor saw how the ground had a lot of shale in it and we would have to keep working it and adding fertilizer every year until it is built up. To put it simply, there is too much rock and too little good soil. Thankfully, we have another neighbor who has a horse that provided us with several loads of manure last year and this year. This year we are starting to see a big difference in the soil. The plants are growing deeper roots and they are looking a lot healthier!
Now that the soil is starting to hold more nutrients and water for the plants, we have another issue to face: Deer! Last week, I woke up early to water my plants and as I was walking up to our garden I noticed half of a row of peas, a few beans, and many sunflowers were missing. I knew it probably couldn’t have been a groundhog or other small critter since we buried fence around the garden. As I was inspecting the damage, I saw fresh deer prints and I knew exactly what had snuck in our garden in the middle of the night.
Thankfully, to resolve this issue we have invested in materials to build an electric fence which we will be putting up this week. In the meantime, we have sprayed Liquid Fence (a rotten egg wonder concoction) which seems to be doing the trick. I personally watched a deer come up to the garden and as soon as it got a whiff of the scent it headed back into the woods. While it was very disappointing seeing those new seedlings eaten, Jason and I immediately replanted the seeds and this time took action to keep the deer away.
With a fresh new row and a packet of seeds, I knelt and started to replant each one that was eaten. As I started to cover them over with soil, I started to think about what Jesus taught his disciples about the farmer sowing seed in Mark 4. In this chapter, Jesus is explaining to his twelve disciples why he used parables to teach.
“Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.”
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables?” – Mark 4:10-13 NLT
A few verses later, Jesus explains the parable of the farmer scattering seeds to his disciples about how people receive the Word of God.
“The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Mark 4:14-20 NLT
Each year when it comes to planting a garden, it’s always a great reminder to myself and my husband about the importance of planting seeds in good soil both physical and spiritual. As Christ is explaining here, as the sower of the seeds we can’t control which ones grow and which ones don’t grow. It’s up to us, however, to ensure that the conditions are the best they can be to allow the growth even though we don’t have power over the actual growth. We can’t control the growth of the seed that is planted. The only thing we can do is alter the conditions around it to make it likely that the seed will take root. We can do this by keeping the soil free from weeds and rocks, faithfully watering and giving the seedling direct access to the sun, by doing this we fulfill what Christ has called us to do as the sowers of the seed.