The Secret Garden
Updated: Aug 1, 2018
Chronicles & Confessions of the Veggie Patch
An unfolding adventure tale of amateur vegetable gardening, peasant style.
-With detailed steps for establishing your own organic vegetable garden.
Series Post 7
"Mistress Mary always felt that however many years she lived she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow."
-The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
“I know there’s no reason to worry or anything,” Max murmured, standing by the lettuce plants. “But it is a secure feeling knowing we have food growing right here in our yard.”
And it is!
What enticed me the most about having my own vegetable garden was reading Arabella Forge’s descriptions of preparing dinner. She talks of going outside with kitchen shears and returning with everything she needs. Her meals take less time and cost less to prepare than those prior to her gardening days. A well-stocked pantry of lentils, grains, oils and vinegars coupled with organic meat from the butcher and fresh herbs and salad fixings from the garden – and voilà! Dinner is thrown together effortlessly!…without stressful, last-minute trips to the grocery store.
It sounds dreamy. Can it really be that way? Arabella’s family had raised chickens when she was growing up. Maybe some people are just more cut out for certain lifestyles than others. I’ve never been able to keep a plant alive. Can I really change?
But it’s been over a month since Max and I planted our container vegetable garden. Flowers (will-be veggies) are now appearing on all the plants, and I spotted the first hard, little, green ball that will become a tomato. I can already cook with fresh herbs and make salads using our own lettuce. It's definitely surreal.
For weeks, I’ve also been learning how to preserve all kinds of foods. In order to be able to write, I wanted to minimize time preparing and cleaning up dinner every night. So I purchased groceries in bulk and preserved them, hoping they will carry us through until we have our own vegetables and can just go “shopping” in the yard like Arabella. I’ve learned about blanching and freezing, re-growing kitchen scraps, and even how to turn raw milk into various other dairy products, such as butter, whipped cream, buttermilk, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and even ice cream.
The more I learn, the more I realize that it’s possible to be self-sustaining! I also feel like I’m glimpsing how life must have been before refrigeration, convenience stores and the internet. In those days, I wouldn’t have YouTube videos to learn this stuff. The women in my family would have taught me. Now I’m determined to resurrect the knowledge for myself and my own family.
With every kitchen staple, Max and I now ask, what’s it made from? Can we make it ourselves? Of course, we can! Everything comes from something, and that “something” usually started out growing from the soil. (Ever wonder what the Bible means when it talks about “separating chaff from wheat” and “the threshing floor?” Look up how to harvest and process grain. Your world will be rocked! Did you know you can also purchase a small kitchen mill and grind grain yourself to make flour? Shocking, right? I know!)
Making ingredients from scratch and preserving food does make for some long evenings. I think I do want to learn how to can because blanching and freezing probably takes just as much time and might be even messier! But as my freezer becomes fuller and dinnertime becomes easier (since all the prep work is already done!), the adventure into peasant-hood is increasingly more exciting. I don’t feel so out of the loop now. I understand what people are saying when I read gardening blogs and watch videos, and I can visualize Biblical stories better than ever before. (And not just Bible stories. I know what Miss Muffet’s “curds and whey” are!)
I feel like I’ve stumbled upon Mary Lennox’s secret garden. Many people might know about it, but the magic is brand new to me. I can’t stop exploring. I want to learn everything! I come alive when I dig in to make it grow.
The wonder of all this though is that “we” don’t make nature happen. Humanity has a role to play, of course, but so long as we are vigilant, nothing will hinder the magic! Physical and spiritual laws are at work every moment. Mary Lennox didn’t re-plant the secret garden; she cultivated what was already there.
"And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles."
I remember when I first learned that “all of nature is physical pictures of spiritual truths.” That is probably why humanity loves it so much. It speaks! It teaches us things. Secret, special, wonderful things. Though cursed and groaning and waiting for the day when the world will be put right again, both humans and the earth they have been given are deeply fascinating. Even in a cursed state, they are more majestic and awe-inspiring than words can describe (though we try).
Yet somehow, everyone senses that’s there’s even more to it than all this. Every new spring and each living thing seems to sing tales of glories that we cannot imagine. Glories of the past and glories yet to come. What we are able to see and do humbles us now, but how things were meant to be and will be again later is far better.
In the meantime, as “we” provide good soil for our plants, and good soil for our hearts, we can watch ourselves and the world around us change and grow and produce fruit as if by magic – the way humanity has done since the dawn of creation.
"The garden had reached the time when every day and every night it seemed as if Magicians were passing through it drawing loveliness out of the earth and the boughs with wands."
And new life comes again and again from the scattered seeds of dying plants.
Beautiful. Breath-taking. Unending.
The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead.
Romans 8:9-25 (The Message)
(It won’t be long now until you and I learn about harvesting and preserving the vegetables from the garden! Until then…)
Grace & Peace in Christ Jesus,
The Pleasant Peasant
Meg is a writer, dreamer, church secretary and member of her church council. When she is not working in ministry, she spends her days uncovering secrets of the historic past and trying to snatch as much free time as she can to pen her book ideas. Meg is committed to living a healthy lifestyle according to what she understands from God’s Word. She drags everyone that she can along for the ride, especially her husband and pets.