Our Urban Garden

When I was in elementary school, we did those career quizzes that predicted what kind of employment path you might choose based on your interests and skills. My number one vocation, three times running, was “farmer”. It never happened. I am a city girl born and raised, although, I’ve had my fair share of farm experiences. Horseback riding, picking berries, we even brought home baby ducks for the weekend after we hatched them at school (my mom was not too pleased either as we didn’t tell her her bathtub was going to be occupied for three days with stinky, mess-making, fuzzy little creatures!) My grandpa was a great gardener too, and I loved following him around his garden. It was always laden with deep red geraniums in hanging pots, an abundance of peas and beans … and I always fell for his trick of tasting the sour grapes from the not- quite-ripe vines that overhung the trellis walkway.

This year, the youngest and I attempted our first “real” urban garden. We have done a few potted tomatoes in the past, but our soil is poor, and we have a lot of shade, so not too much grows in our neck of the woods. This year, since moving our carport, a plot of earth literally opened up for us. We planned early and picked seedlings to start (part of my going greener adventures). It has been fun to watch her get excited about watering and weeding! Sadly, Ontario has had a terrible spring this year… wet and cool for way too long… and then we skipped right into hot and humid summer, so I am pleased that anything grew in our little urban farm experiment! Today, we harvested a bumper crop of mixed lettuce! Complete with a beetle of unknown variety and several creepy, crawly earwigs! Success! Organically grown produce! In the city!

Part of the fun of success is letting my imagination get the better of me… I get carried away with thinking about the next project… beautifully tiered growing boxes of fine veggies, plots of land with free ranging chickens that get tucked into adorable coops at night. Corrals with milk producing goats shoving their annoying little kids back from climbing over the fences. Oh, I could learn how to make goat cheese! Or lavender scented goat milk soap in small, handmade batches!

But alas, my ever patient hubby reminds me to “be satisfied with what you have”. Delight in the joys of what you have — right now. See your current success as a blessing, and not always look for bigger or better. I’m trying. But I crave more. I fight this inner struggle of my dreaming heart — and my practical head. I know I would become overwhelmed with a bigger plot of weeds. I know escaping chickens would drive me crazy, and failed goat’s milk soap would frustrate me (even in tiny batches). But a girl can dream, right?

Am I alone in my struggle to do more? Not likely. Perhaps, this is why Jesus used so many examples of agriculture in His teachings. Sure, it is something the people would be familiar with, but it is also such a growing and changing creature in and of itself. Agriculture — urban or otherwise — requires good growing conditions, fine weather patterns, and a whole lotta hard work! The people of Jesus’ day understood that His parables about soil or mustard seeds are partially dependent on what they did and partially dependent on trusting God for the process.

We have read countless children’s books to our crew about how we can plant seeds and water and give good soil, but only God can grow the seed. Our little plot of land has reminded me of those simple truths. We pray for our family members to be healed, or go to church, or see our faith as something real. We send them books to read and online articles to ponder. We teach our kids Bible truths and send them to Christian summer camps. But only God can grow the seed.

We have one lonely carrot in our urban garden. One. Oh, we planted lots… but only the scraggly top of one, singleton carrot is showing. We have no idea if anything is growing beneath the surface. Perhaps the visiting bunny may finish it off completely before the harvest season. I want and wish it to be fat and plump and delightfully orange… but it may be only a tiny root come the day we finally dig it up. And I will again be reminded, that God is in control, and we need to be patient, and just keep trying again — next year.


Want to see a tour of our little urban garden? Check out our Instagram page @mittonmusingsblog or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Mittonmusings/

Aloe Vera

I’ve been reflecting, lately, on how complex our world is, and yet, how it all seamlessly works together to provide us with all that we need:

  • Our middle school son has been learning about parts of a cell and all the intricate workings of the tiniest of living things. I love that! Besides, it’s just fun to say “rough endoplasmic reticulum” and know what it means.
  • We have been surviving the snowmaggedon of 2019 here, and many are waiting for spring to arrive — and it will — eventually. The snow will melt and nourish the land just in time for spring flowers to peep up out of the ground. But for now, we continue to shovel out.
  • We’ve marked the year anniversary of my beloved mother-in-law’s final battle with Alzheimer’s, and reflected on how painful it was to watch this awful disease rob her of so many things. Yet the beauty of her life was cared for so diligently by her beloved husband and family.

Which brings me to my Aloe Vera muse. In case you don’t know, aloe vera is the term given to a variety of succulent plants know for it’s “healing” or “soothing” properties. The aloe vera gel is harvested and used in countless beauty and hair products. It’s been grown by many a gardener for it’s attractive, easy growing nature and it’s medicinal properties. A few years ago, I received a huge pot of aloe. It had been left untouched for some time and had propagated to about 40 “pups” or off shoots — baby plants, if you will. I have shared or used most of those babies and now have a few lone survivors left on my windowsill. Recently, I bought an aloe stem (stalk?) with my groceries! It didn’t cost too much, and held all the promise of good things. Only issue… what to do with the crazy thing?!

You tube to the rescue again! Apparently, you harvest the gel inside by trimming away the sharp, spiky edges, filleting the green off, and scooping up all the yummy aloe vera gel from the inside! I wish I was better at videos, because it would have been much more entertaining for you to watch the process as opposed to my still photos! The plant smelled a little funny, it tastes bitter direct from the plant, and the gel is like trying to herd a slippery pile of snot. We laughed. All in all, we harvested a good sized jar of the soothing aloe gel — currently stored in my refrigerator.

Further research says I can use it on my skin, hair and nails. We’ve been trying some natural bar shampoo that is a little drying, so hair help might be on the agenda. I can mix it in with my smoothies for digestion help (or a good cleanse (apparently) if one adds too much!) I use it all the time for minor burns and skin irritations. It works wonders on sunburn (not that we are having any of that in the middle of winter!) but supposedly it works well on chapped lips, so this is a current seasonal option! I figure if it worked for Cleopatra’s beauty regime, it will certainly help with ours!

Learning more about this miracle plant has shown me, that yet again, the Creator of this world takes good care of us! Time and time again the words of Psalm 147:3 ring true: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (ESV) Like the soothing gel of the aloe vera plant, God is the balm that calms our hurts, heals our pain, and binds our wounds. Sometimes it is messy. We get lost in the snotty goo of our imperfections, but His grace covers us and provides that added layer of protection on our parched, chapped skin.

His nourishing word cleanses us from the inside. Our bible study group last week reminded me that meditation on God’s word gives us the tools we need to navigate through our daily routines. Like the aloe, a little nourishment can keep us “clean” and boost our immunity.

So, if you are like us, and dreaming of more tropical weather and sunburn season… remember the little Aloe Vera plant and all it’s benefits. Let it be a green reminder to you of how God is the balm that cleanses and purifies. The One who heals and calms our hurts. Be blessed!