In April we wondered if the rain would ever stop. More than once the passing storms unleashed liquid fury in such volumes the gutters and downspouts could not handle the load. The rain barrels overflowed, and the low spot next to the neighbor’s house morphed into a swamp that took several days to percolate into the soil. Gardening became a messy task, perhaps something that ought to be delayed until drier conditions.
Change the scene to May. Our last rainfall was three weeks ago as temperatures hover in the mid-nineties. The ground lies dusty and cracking. Plants languish in the sweltering heat and one breaks into a sweat just thinking about gardening. Is it too hot to grab the shovel? Should I delay activities until the cooler temperatures return?
I learned from a local farmer that the weather is never right for agricultural activities. He’s lost his hay crop more than once to torrential rains that soaked the newly-mown fields and prevented bailing. Farmer T says, “It’s always too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet for farming. And then there is the snow and ice and hail to consider.” His testimony makes me want to visit the Farmer’s Market, hug all the farmers, and thank them for sticking with it.
Solomon loved his gardens and agricultural projects and shared the knowledge he gleaned from having his hands in the soil. He reminded his readers that ideal conditions may never arrive. If we delay our activities until the perfect day we may miss the crop altogether.
Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT
Grandpa, another wise man, offered advice in step with Solomon’s counsel, “You gotta’ make hay while the sun shines!”
Agricultural pursuits such as farming and gardening come with natural restrictions.
There is a proper season. I can’t plant green beans outdoors in December in zone 5 and expect anything promising to happen. I won’t be reaping garlic in early May unless I order the bulbs, prepare the soil, and plant the cloves in October of the previous year. I recall the stress we created one July by picking up a couple of closeout fruit trees at a local garden center (only $4 each!). I used every trick I knew to install those trees in the hard-baked soil and keep them alive through the first year. Those spindly trees nearly wore me out. July is not a good time to plant trees in North Carolina.
There is a limited time to complete the work. Whether I am planting, tending or harvesting I can miss my window of opportunity if I wait too long to start. And as chores pile up I have to learn that “good enough” works just fine in the garden. Perfection in the garden ended when Adam and Eve munched the forbidden fruit. I don’t have two hours to invest in manicuring one rose bush. I need to snip it in the bud and move on as Barney Fife might say.
The future must drive our present in the garden. Agricultural work does not usually payoff as soon as one’s hands are washed for supper. Patience, determination, resistance to adversity, and vigilance are necessary amendments to the gardener’s heart soil. We work hard now hoping for the harvest later in the year. Of course we face disappointments, but we keep digging and reminding ourselves, “Just wait till next year!”
Solomon summed up the dangers of ignoring these natural restrictions.
Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. Proverbs 20:4 NLT
And what about the person who gives up on the garden? Someone like that lived near Solomon.
I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. Proverbs 24:30-34 NLT
Yes, it is hot cold dry windy raining snowing sleeting today but the garden awaits. Now is the perfect time to get out there.