I’m excited to introduce this two-part guest post to you! Amber had so many wonderful things to say about her (and her family’s) experience of gardening and such helpful suggestions that I decided to turn it into a series. I hope that you’re as inspired as I was and encouraged in your own gardening efforts. Look forward to Part 2 next week!

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Guest Post by Amber

Ambers garden2

“I would love to garden, but I just don’t have the time.”

Sound familiar? It’s certainly a phrase I’ve heard before. Having grown up with a garden in the backyard almost every year, I have a tendency to shrug off this little phrase. “Just get out there are do it!” I want to say. “It’s not that hard!”

Today, I had an eye-opener.

This afternoon, my father, my two brothers, and I were out working in a garden, in the humid Virginia air. The soil was red and clumpy – and heavy. Gnats buzzed around our heads as we moved heavy piles of clay here and there, and bent over to plant eight fifty-foot rows of corn, twenty-five hills of zucchini and yellow squash, one row of cucumbers, and one bed of string beans. We began our work sometime around 3:15 that afternoon. We didn’t finish until 5:30.

A little while ago, I sat down next to this computer and pulled my shoes off, ready to relax. I looked at my white socks, now turned red from clay that seeped into my shoes. Every muscle in my arms aches with each movement, and my back is stiff and sore. I am ready to sit still for a good long while, and ready to snort at anyone who calls gardening easy.

That, perhaps, is what many people imagine gardening to be like; back-breaking, time-consuming, hot, never-ending work that leaves you exhausted. But let me tell you about another garden.

This garden is divided into ten beds, each neatly edged in cement blocks or wood. The pathways are strewn with straw or leaves, and within the beds dark soil is fluffy and rich, like brownie mix. The plants are tall and close together, shading the soil so that you can hardly see it. Produce hangs heavy and shiny on vines.

This garden is a pleasure to enter – even if you’re coming there to work. Weeds come out of the soil easily, roots and all. The dirt holds moisture like a sponge, and requires little watering. Produce is within reach and easy to pick; in fact, picking is likely what you’ll spend the most time doing in this garden.

Sound like a magazine garden? Does it sound too good to be real? Too…easy?

It is a real garden. It’s my family’s garden.

Ambers garden1

It’s not a magazine garden. If you walked through it right now, you’d see one zucchini plant dead from squash bores, and two or three bean plants with a bit of fungus growing on them. But it’s still a beautiful place. And we’re not exhausted every time we work in it.

But what about the first garden I mentioned? That is also real. It is a garden we are making on the land of a couple who lives less than an hour away from us. The owner tilled the land briefly with a tractor the day before we planted, and from there on we did all the work.

While there, I realized how easy we have it at home. This was a lot of work! No wonder so many people turn away from gardening after the first try! If I hadn’t been so excited about having so much land to plant things on, I think I could have sat down and cried with exhaustion when I finished raking that 400 feet of clay soil.

What made the difference? Why was that garden so time-consuming and hard, while gardening at home is so enjoyable and an integral part of life? What’s the secret?

Let’s admit it – most people would like to garden. I think it’s something God put in us from the moment He placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Growing your own food – what a freeing thought! But the obstacles are many for some people. How can you fit gardening into your life, without it taking over your life? I hope to give you some tips that will answer that question.

First a disclaimer; if you want a garden, you do have to garden. There is no magic fairy dust you can sprinkle on that bare patch to make things grow. These tips I’ll share are not designed to encourage a couch potato. I’m not aiming for effortless gardening – just less-effort gardening.

I’m not a gardening expert at all, but I’ve listened to many gardeners – ‘specially my Dad – talk about gardening, and I’ve worked alongside my Dad so much, that I believe some of it has worn off on me. From him, I have learned all sorts of information that I could share with you on time-saving gardening. I can’t possibly include it all in one blog post.

So let’s try to keep it simple – here are my top 6 suggestions for fitting gardening into your life…

To be continued next week… Aren’t you curious and excited to read Amber’s tips? Do you wish that you could garden, or garden more or bigger than you do, but feel that you just don’t have the time that it takes?

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Amber is the second oldest in a family with six children, and is serving the Lord at home through various ministries and entrepreneurial adventures. Besides gardening, she also enjoys writing, sewing, cooking, baking, music, and reading, and blogs about using skills for the Lord at www.fruit-of-her-hands.blogspot.com.

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