#TellHisStory: How Does Your Garden Grow?

May 21, 2014 | 28 comments

Every once in a while, I enjoy writing a story just for the sheer fun of the story. This is one of those stories. It’s the kind of story you just want to get down on paper because it was so fun living it.  Maybe there’s some nugget of spiritual wisdom buried within this little tale. And maybe there’s not. But if it makes you smile — or if it makes you want to step outside and plant a seed —  well, … mission accomplished.

How Does Your Garden Grow

I knelt in the tilled dirt, under a patch of blue sky.

In one hand, I held a packet of radish seeds, and in the other hand, a sharp garden tool. I was poised to plunge spade-first into the spring-planting season – a season that woos both the hopeful and the naïve.

My husband, a farmer, had tilled this stretch of black dirt next to his cornfield so I could plant a small buffet of produce: beets, carrots, beans, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes.

I crouched in the dirt and arranged seed packets, and my mind entertained grand and gleeful visions. I thought about the ways in which gardening would instill a good work ethic in our daughters while I ordered them around that tilled patch of ground. Then, my mind fast-forwarded to the midsummer dinner table. I could see it clearly: how my family would benefit nutritionally from our hard work — all those vitamins pulsing through through their bodies, thanks to my leadership in this act of planting bravado. (Insert sound of angel chorus.)

Then, in my delusions of gardening grandeur, I began to mentally collect ribbons at the county fair, tacking them on the bulletin board next to my much-anticipated Mother-of-the-Year Award.

Just then, reality barged into the garden, boorishly interrupting my daydreams. Truth, is, I have the brownest thumb in the neighborhood. (Unless you count my wildly prolific thistle patch.)

It seems every farm wife worth her weight in topsoil can plant a garden, except me. Oh, I’ve tried.

I once planted five rows of vegetables in the backyard, but failed to fence my plot. By July the rabbits and deer had eaten all the produce. A year later, I borrowed rows in Grandma Lee’s garden, but I was so fearful of the snakes in her yard, that I stopped weeding my section.

I quit gardening altogether for several years, and did most of my “canning” in the aisles of the supermarket. I owe deep gratitude to Del Monte for feeding my family.

Meanwhile, each spring, my husband faithfully plants hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans in straight, evenly spaced rows. And each fall, as I witness his harvest from the rear-facing windows of the house, I am secretly envious of the fruits of his labor.

This spring, I vowed, would be different. I carefully picked an assortment of seeds. I plotted where I’d plant each row. I carefully marked the garden with dowels.

Yes, there have been a few errors – minor, really. You know, like the fact that my garden hose was fifteen feet shy of reaching the garden. Or how I spilled half the radish seeds in the bean row.

And then, fifteen minutes into our planting adventure, I couldn’t find my co-laborers, the children. Later, I found them behind the shed, attempting to give one of the farm cats a haircut – a trim of the whiskers with some blunt-tip Fiskars.

And, my husband — bless his heart — gently informed me that I wasn’t using a hoe when I planted the garden. That sharp tool was, in fact, our ice chopper. (Common mistake. Note the striking resemblance to a garden hoe.)


But, I digress.

Because, guess what? Two hours after I dropped the first seed in the ground – voila – our garden was planted despite my case of Garden Implement Mistaken Identity.

That was a week ago.

And get this: Just this morning, one of our daughters came bursting through the back door with a report: “Something is growing in the garden!”

I rushed outside to see. Sure enough, a long – and somewhat straight – line of green had sprouted.

Lo, the miracle of spring.

Our family owes its thanks not to me, but to the good Lord, who had the sense to plant us in Iowa, a state that lays claim to some of the most forgiving soil in the world.

With things in proper perspective, I no longer dream of prize-winning radishes. I’ll be satisfied with sinking my teeth into something that grew out of a hole that was dug with an ice chopper.

Photos by Anathea Utley (1), and Simon A (2). Sourced via Creative Commons on Flickr.

So, what’s your Story?

A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God. (And as you can see with the case study above, some stories have almost zero spiritual application!)

You’re invited to tell that story right here, in community with us.

Share your narratives, your poems, your Instagrams tagged with #TellHisStory, … your beautiful hearts. You are the chroniclers, the people who help others make sense of the world with your words and your art.

Story is how we know that, no matter what happens, we can get back up again.

Visit someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Then, Tweet about your posts, and the posts you visit, with the #TellHisStory hashtag. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.

A final note: This is a safe place to tell your stories. You don’t have to be a professional writer to join us. Story is built into every single one of us. Your story matters, because it’s part of God’s story down through history, not because you punctuated everything correctly. Deal?


For more details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here. Share the love of story by visiting someone else in the community!

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by | May 21, 2014 | 28 comments


  1. Laura Risser Moss

    This makes me smile so much…mostly because I bet my Brown Thumb can beat your Brown Thumb any day. (Plants actually commit hari kari in the back seat of my truck on the way home so they can avoid the slow, lingering death sure to be their fate at my hands. *wink) Enjoy that yummy harvest when the time comes!

  2. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I love this Laura, thanks for welcoming me into your garden, no need to apologize for a lack of a “moral” to the story, you give us room to walk around, like a good story does. I too planted last night in a poorly tilled patch covered with the remnants of a heavy carpet of grass, I’m hoping that field will remember how it used to grow more than grass and I said a prayer of blessing for precarious beginnings. My post this week was on gardening also, God speaks in so many ways.

  3. Debbie

    Thank you for hosting! What a great story!

  4. Jolene Underwood

    You know we will now want to see what comes out of the ground later – no matter what it looks like! I do believe your gardening labors are preapproved. 🙂 My own garden was FILLED with Bermuda grass and weeds when we returned to our home. The young men who rented our home for 14 months apparently did not want to utilize the space. It’s been a lot of work just to get a small bit opened up. It’s so exciting to see something growing! Although, I thought I killed my mint plant before getting in the ground. The other day a tiny green leaf started to appear. I keep cheering it on, “c’mon mint!” I have tabbouleh plans for you! I’ll cheer your garden on too. At least you weren’t chipping into frozen ground right? 🙂

    Love your site, the message & your writing. Am so glad to connect with you.

  5. Michelle Anderson

    Gosh this story made me giggle. A lot. I don’t grow stuff. I’m a city girl. Love the mistaken identity with the ice breaker and hoe. I would do that. Happy wednesday!

  6. Nannette Elkins

    You always make me miss my home in the country! God puts us where He wants us though and I am learning to be content. Beautiful post with a smile!

  7. Kris Camealy

    I appreciate this story, Jennifer. I too have been known to fantasize about miraculous garden veggies, and a green thumb that I do not actually have. Thanks for sharing this story! XO

  8. Laura Connell

    This is cute. I love your daughter’s surprise that something is growing in the garden!

  9. Bruce Barone

    That was hilarious! My mom was from Iowa. Her parents farmers, too. Love your method of “canning.”

  10. Susan Tilney

    When I was little, I used to ogle my grandmother’s jewel-like canning efforts, all neatly organized in long rows on shelving in her basement, and dream of one day being so wonderfully self-sufficient. I then grew up, got married and lived in a big city while working a full-time job, keeping a home, and raising a family. There was little time for gardening; a wee patch in the backyard that yielded tomatoes and limas was all that could be managed. But then my husband retired and we moved far from the big city to a quasi-rural area in Downeast Maine. We now have five acres, most of which is not truly arable. We plant yellow and white sweet corn, peas, wax beans, and lots and lots and lots of tomatoes. Because we live in an area with many farms, we also have access to wonderful quantities of fresh, in-season fruit and veggies. My dreams of self-sufficiency returned! Our first summer, I spent days/weeks/a solid month in the kitchen, on my arthritis-ridden legs canning my heart out trying to achieve those long jewel-like shelves of canned goods. I was exhausted. I was a failure. Dreams can be short-sighted. I failed to realize that my grandmother had spent years canning and what I saw in my youth was not necessarily one summer’s effort. I’ve learned: I’ve learned to take my sea salt into the garden to enjoy the luscious juiciness of a still sun-warmed heirloom tomato freshly picked from the vine; I’ve learned to take an easier pull on that summer oar by fermenting, freezing and dehydrating as well as canning; I’ve learned to sit rather than stand on these old legs while working in the kitchen; and I’ve learned patience, mostly with myself. A summer kitchen covered in fresh produce is truly a blessed gift; allowing nothing to go to waste is a talent; varying the approach to preserving God’s harvest, both in manner and time, is wisdom that comes only from a summer of abject failure. I think, just maybe, my grandmother is smiling. 🙂

  11. Alecia Simersky

    I love a good gardening story. It’s also nice to know I’m not the only gardener with a brown thumb 🙁 I try hard, I really do! I love playing in the dirt and the anticipation of fresh juicy veggies from my own garden…unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way.

  12. Lisa notes...

    Ah, the miracles of spring. 🙂 I’m always amazed when anything pops up too. Both my parents and my in-laws were/are awesome gardeners. I do best just sticking with my indoor houseplants, but I do love flowers in the spring. Maybe this will inspire me to work outside this weekend planting some. Thanks, Jennifer.

  13. soulstops

    oh…glad you didn’t give up, Jennifer…thanks for the chuckle 🙂

  14. Gretchen

    Loved it! Lots of smiles as I remembered my own passion for digging and planting in the spring. My best effort paid off one year until the heat of middle Georgia took over mid-summer, and I lost all three of my weeders, my kids, to the a/c. My funniest memory of gardening was planning a small flower garden along my side of the fence of our yard to match the one my neighbors had started. Hers grew lush and green with gorgeous zinnias and marigolds of all colors. Our side produced one bloom on one tiny zinnia bush no bigger than a quarter!
    I still get that craving; I usually fill it with pretty potted plants bought at the nursery!

  15. Holly Solomon Barrett

    I am literally laughing out loud at the Garden Implement Mistaken Identity, because I just came from purchasing some garden tools, mulch and plants for one of my students to work on the flower beds in front of our house. We were looking for a hoe and I totally was going to buy the other thing in your picture above (ice chipper?)!! 🙂 Clearly my brown thumb rivals yours. But it’s also a good excuse for me to not have to garden! Thanks for the laugh today, friend.

  16. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Wonderful story, beautifully written as always, and it gives me encouragement to think that this brown thumb can eventually grow *something*! But gotta tell you, even with encouragement, I’m not sure I’m gonna try. I have this thing about worms and snakes and dirt. But if you would like to issue a dinner invitation, I will be there with bells on.
    Love you,

  17. Sybil Brun

    I loved this : ) Spring is such a breathtakingly miraculous time indeed! Thanks so much for graciously hosting #TellHisStory each week! Wishing you a joyful week Jennifer!

  18. lindalouise

    Oh boy can I identify with this Jennifer. Were I to be transported to a farm in Iowa, I would give you a run for your money for brown-thumb gardener of the year. Praying your garden grows well this year!

  19. Leah Adams

    Seeing those little green bits pop out of the ground blankets the heart in a warm covering of ahhhh! Currently I have only broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage in the ground. Soon there will be tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Can’t wait to start tasting and canning!

  20. Mindy Whipple

    I love gardening and I love your story. Each seed, so full of promise, planted with hope and then the miracle of green…I never tire of it!

  21. Natasha Limber

    We live in a small apartment in Athens, Greece with very small balconies. My husband loves to garden and our balconies are full of pots with various herbs, vegetables and flowers. Seeing how he takes care of them and seeing how they just grow blesses me so much! They taste absolutely delicious. Praying for your garden dear Jennifer! Blessings xxx



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