Our house is just a little house but God knows where we live

That saying is on a little plaque given to me by Grandmom and it’s so fitting. We are happily settling down (finally!!??) in our cute, little home, and God-willing, our forever home, after moving so many times over the past few years. And just in time for spring and planting flowers, herbs, and of course GOURDS! Hope we get a good crop like we had down in North Carolina. At least living in rural south Jersey feels like living down south, but we’re still in my beloved state of New Jersey!

My little gourd patch

My little gourd patch

 

 

 

 

Garden pathway

Garden pathway

Our backyard friends, the house finch

Our backyard friends, the house finch

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Mmm Mmm Collard Greens

We didn’t have our usual veggie garden this past summer because we just moved back here in July but cousin Mark has been preparing the ground for next year’s garden.  He’s already tilled the garden area and now he’s adding leaves that he picks up in the yard – that makes for a good fertilizer.   With having to spend more money on gas and groceries nowadays, growing our own crops is definitely the way to go.

I never planted a fall garden before so I thought I’d give it a try.  I went down to the feed store and invested $15 in collard greens, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce.  We planted the veggies about 4 weeks ago and since then the collards have done great so we’ve been eating them just about every night with dinner.  Rocky even uses the large leaves as a wrap and brings them to work for lunch.  We’re just now starting to see little broccoli heads but no cabbage yet.  The lettuce has grown good too, though not as large as the collards.  So the $15 spent was well worth it.

I don’t usually eat so many collard greens but looks like we will be for a while. :)  Collards are a staple food of the south (when in Rome…).  I wondered about their nutrition value and found that cooked collards are actually higher in nutrients than raw.  That surprised me.  But raw or cooked, I read they are very high in antioxidants and have fat-burning properties.  We usually eat them raw with the garden lettuce in a salad.  I usually add organic apple cider vinegar to mine.

Before the garden is done I’m going to freeze some collards so we can have them New Year’s Day, another southern tradition – they represent money.  So here’s to lots of greens…and a prosperous New Year!

Links to some good info on collards:

http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch55.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collard_greens

Gardening is GREAT exercise

And good for the soul! I spent about an hour outside today, shoveling mulch into the back of the John Deere and spreading it out in my garden beds and I got to thinking (after wiping the sweat from my brow) gardening is really good exercise!  And not only that, there are many other benefits to it is as well.  So here are my simple and unscientific reasons why I think gardening is so good for us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually:

Physically, the body probably uses every muscle by digging and shoveling (arms, back and stomach), squatting and walking and bending (legs and butt).  The heart rate increases, pumping more oxygen to the cells and breathing gets heavier clearing out the lungs.  The sweet fragrances of flowers, the fresh air, nice breeze and sun shining down is pleasing to the senses which makes a person feel good emotionally (also, the sun is a natural way of receiving vitamin D into the body).  The mental benefits come when one’s mind is focused on this project of beautifying their surroundings.  This constant focus becomes like a meditation, keeping one’s mind off of the worries and concerns of the day.

For me, I feel closest to God when I am in nature, admiring His creation and letting the quietness and serenity fill my soul. This is also why hiking in the woods is another favorite past-time of mine. I am filled with a sense of wonder at all of the different plants, trees, flowers and fruits He created and I appreciate the goodness of it all.  He created these things for us because our Father in heaven loves us.  Thank you, God.

So that’s why I think gardening, or any kind of yard work for that matter, is just plain old good for you!  Plus, it’s free!  No membership fees or spending gas money or bus fare to get to the gym.  Are you listening, babe?!  Hubby loves working out at the gym.  He was born and raised in the city so that’s how he used to get his exercise but now he’s here with me…and now he can start helping me with the yard work!  :)

Mulch

Fall is here and it’s time to mulch over all my sensitive plants and flowers. Thank God we had a huge pile of mulch left here by our renters. My canna lilies will do fine without it, they have multiplied so much over the past couple of years and I’ve already dug up some bulbs and planted them elsewhere (like all over the yard!) But I just planted a small rosemary bush and I know that definitely needs some mulch. I also planted it close to the house for added protection. Last time I planted elephant ears they died so this year I put mulch around them. Hopefully they will come back next year. I’m also going to mulch over all the angel trumpets that I planted out there in the field. They’ll get full sun out there even though they only bloom at night or when it’s cloudy. And they smell sooo good! I can’t wait to see what it looks like around here next spring. ugh – let’s get through fall and winter first!