Tuesday, July 31, 2012


After many hot dry days, we got rain.  Last week we got 7/10 of an inch of rain and last night, around 3am, we had a large thunderstorm with lots of wind and rain.  It was odd in that the wind came from the North and hit the front of our house. Normally the wind blows from the West.  This morning there was 2 inches of rain in our rain gauge!  We are grateful for the much needed rain.  This evening we picked some bounty from the garden as shown below.  We hope you also enjoy some random / artsy shots from the garden.

2" of Rain!!
Purple Pole Bean Blossoms
Tomato Blossoms
Tomatoes, Soon to Ripen
Dill Umbel
Melon Blossom with Ant
Spaghetti Winter Squash
Tigerella Tomato
Pickings from 7-31-2012 (Minus What Was Eaten While Picking)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lessons from the squash vine borer

Our zucchini plants have been struck again by the squash vine borer this year despite the added protection of foil around the base and the use of row covers for a limited period of time.  The destructive nature of this attack is very easily missed and usually fatal to the entire plant.  The plant can look fine one day then totally collapse the next.  What can we learn from this?

When we examine ourselves, just looking in the mirror isn't always enough. We need to dig deeper, and examine our heart.  Perhaps like the fated zucchini in which there were 3 jumbo borer larva found inside upon closer inspection, we also may find things that are destructive to our soul.  Now I am not talking about using a knife and scalpel, but I am talking about examining your words and thoughts.  Scripture tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  If our words and thoughts are pure and clean at all times, that is a good indication of our healthy inner state.  But what do we do if we don’t like what we find upon deeper examination?  Eradicate the junk!  How do we do that?  One way is following the advice of Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

To help with this, I also suggest for you to take a look at your environment.  If it is negative, filthy, or harmful to your body or soul, change it if you can.  Surround yourself with good, beautiful things and people that love you and it will help you remain positive and able to keep the squash vine borers of life at bay.    
Squash Vine Borer

Squash Vine Borer (1 of 3 found in plant)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Garden Status Update

Today I am planning to just share a few thoughts and pics from the garden to date.  It is still hot with at least 3 days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit so far this year.  Many more days were in the high 90's...  Don't remember a year like it as this is very unusual for our area.  It actually briefly rained today, but it wasn't enough to get the ground wet.

We have had a very productive year as far as what we have been harvesting.  We probably have harvested more this year so far than the 2 previous years combined.  Today we picked 13 green bell peppers and cut some up to put in the freezer.  Last year we maybe got one. The fence has helped tremendously and our dogs are sad as their free pepper snacks are now out of reach.  The pole beans are growing up the fence.  Yesterday while watering, we noticed entire leaves that were sticking out through the fence were cleanly eaten off.  We are pretty sure it was deer.

Some of the beds seem too crowded, now that the plants have grown.  This is good and bad as it makes for more fruit, but it is also harder to find it.

Enjoy some of the pics below.  Blessings.

Leaf Lettuce

Shelled Peas

Swiss Chard

Hanging Garlic for Drying Out


Today's Harvest!

Dear Damage on Purple Pole Beans

Crowded Zucchini Bed

Crowded Tomato Bed

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scorched Earth

We haven't had any rain to speak of now in almost 3 months.  Many places around the country are suffering from high heat and low rain.  Watering by hand from the hand pump is just taking too long.  The Oasis pump has completely failed and I have returned it to the manufacturer per his request.  For us we still have water options despite the lack of rain.  We have city water which draws its source from Lake Michigan.  The 5 large lakes around Michigan comprise 20% of the worlds fresh water.  Because of the drought we are needing to water a lot to keep the plants happy.  For now we are using the city water via garden hose and spray nozzle instead of the hand pump and watering cans to save several hours each time we water.  It might not be the best water choice because the city adds chlorine, alum, and fluoride, but time is valuable too.  We have been looking at the possibility of getting a garden hose filter to pull out the chlorine.  We would also like to install some soaker-hoses or drip-lines into the beds eventually so that we can save even more time in watering.  There are many options and styles and PSI ratings to consider so I don't know the best thing to get.  Might just have to get something and see how it goes.
No, we don't live in a desert...  Yet.

Wood chips, sand, grass, dirt...  All brown

You can tell who waters their grass in the neighborhood...  Not us

This year we had some very warm early spring days in Michigan followed by some hard freezes that resulted in nearly total crop loss for cherries, apples, and peaches across the state.  The crop loss and drought hasn't affected the average person too much yet but apple prices are starting to climb.  If we have more years like this the effects will be multiplied.  I am reminded of Michael Boldea's dream of three men in a wheat field.  (http://www.handofhelp.com/vision_58.php)  It is worth reading so I have copied it below.


Posted March 2010
Shortly after returning to the United States I began having a recurring dream.  I have prayed many nights as to whether or not I should share this dream, and I finally received confirmation that I should.  There are some dreams or visions that I receive wherein I know instantly that it was either meant for me personally, or that it was intended to be shared.  This was not such a dream.  After seeking the Lord on the matter however, I know I was supposed to make this dream public.  

I dreamt I stood in front of a large wheat field.  By the golden hew the wheat stalks had taken on, in my dream, I knew that it was close to harvest time, either late summer or early autumn.  It was beautiful and peaceful watching the wheat sway gently in the breeze under a picture perfect blue sky.  

As I grew familiar with the scene before me, I began looking around and saw three men, evenly spaced at the edge of the field.  One man stood on the left corner of the rectangular field, the second man stood in the middle, and the third man stood on the far right edge.  

All three men were dressed in white, and since I was seeing them from behind I could not make out their faces.  Each of the three men held something in their right hand.  The man on the left held a burning torch, the man in the middle held something that looked like a wineskin, and the man in the far right corner held an old fashioned sickle, and a basket lay on the ground next to him.  I recognized the sickle, because I used to play with one in my adolescence while living in Romania.  

As I stood and watched this strange scene before me, the man on the far left tipped his torch slightly, and touched one of the wheat stalks with the lit torch.  Suddenly about one third of the entire wheat field burst into flame.  The fire went out as quickly as it began a sudden burst of flame, followed by the scorched remnants of a once beautiful wheat field.  

As I continued watching, the second man uncorked the wineskin, raised it about shoulder level, and tipped it slightly.  One solitary drop of water poured out of the wineskin, but as it made contact with the wheat another third of the field was leveled as though a great wave had just swept through it.  

I did not understand what I was seeing but I continued to watch the scene unfold.  I was expecting the third man to do something as dramatic as the first two, but instead he simply bent from the waist, grabbed a handful of wheat stalk with his left hand, and with a practiced swing of the sickle cut through it.  He then laid the wheat he had cut in the basket.  Although there was a solemnity in the actions of all three men, the gentleness and care with which the third man laid the wheat in the basket stood out for some reason.  The man continued the process of cutting wheat and putting it in the basket until it was full, then with practiced ease, tied the wheat into a small bushel with a piece of twine he removed from his waist.  He laid the bushel aside, and returned to swinging the sickle and filling the basket.  This went on for some time as the man methodically and quickly made bushel after bushel of wheat.  

For the first two nights, this is where my dream ended, and as I knew this could not be the end of it, I began to pray that I might either see the conclusion of the dream, or receive the interpretation.  

On the third night, the dream began as the previous two nights, with the first man setting fire to one third of the field, the second man flooding one third, and the third man meticulously harvesting the last third, I thought it would be the same dream yet again, until the man with the sickle turned, looked at me and said, ‘the world will know hunger, the faithful will know the power of their God.’ I recognized him; I had seen him in both my dreams and my visions before.  

I woke up, and went about my day thinking that I would have the dream again that night, but the dream did not return.  I received no further insight or interpretation, but this is what I believe in regards to its meaning:

I believe that a worldwide food shortage is imminent.  Whether due to too much sun and not enough rain, or too much rain and unprecedented weather patterns, global agriculture will suffer a severe blow very shortly.  I also believe that God has already prepared provision for His children, that He will provide for them, and miraculously so.  I do not believe God reveals coming events to His children that they might grow fearful or panic, but rather that they might learn to trust Him, knowing that He who is already into tomorrow, has already made provision for it.  
Matthew 6:25-26, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:31-33, Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek firs the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Water is crucial for us and our plants.  It can be something that we take for granted until we find ourselves in a dry situation.  It has been close to a month since our last rainfall and the dusty ground shows it.  We are blessed to have a seemingly never ending supply from our city tap, but how would we fare if this wasn’t there?  What we are attempting to do with our garden watering is to not have to rely on city water, which has chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals added.  Below are the two ways we are using free water sources other than city water.

The first source is collecting the rain.  We put up rain gutters last summer with the help of a friend and have a barrel set up to collect the runoff.  It is amazing how only 2 tenths of an inch can easily fill up and overflow a 50 gallon barrel.  Since this barrel is up on a hill and a bit further from the garden beds we can hook up a hose and let gravity drain to another barrel we store at the bottom of the hill under our deck and next to a hand pump.  We could also possibly hook up a nozzle and use this to water directly.  It takes a little over a full barrel to water everything, depending on how many plants are up at the time.  We have found though that the plants wilt less and we don’t have to water as much this year as in the past because of the extra mulch we have added to the beds.  But what do we do if it hasn’t rained in a while?
Rain water transfer from upper to lower barrel

Shannon filling watering cans from lower barrel

The second source is a shallow well with a hand pump.  I have PVC hooked up from my pump to flow directly into the barrel.  This makes it handy to store the water and let it warm up so that it is not such a shock on the plants.  Since the water coming out of the ground is about 40 degrees, we try to use it directly on the Cole crops to help retard bolting.  We use water from the barrel on the warm crops if we can.

I need to amend my review on the oasis pump I have been using.  I am definitely a lot happier with it now than when I first started using it.  I called the gentleman who makes the pumps and talked to him about how it was leaking when I tried to pump uphill.  He said it shouldn’t do that and said to send it back and he would exchange it for a new one.  Upon its return, I hooked it up again and this time used pipe tape which eliminated the problem I had with losing prime. I then tested pumping uphill and this time no problem, everything worked as expected!  Be sure to cover it though when not in use because the sun is hard on plastics.  07-03-2012 UPDATE:  This pump is not durable, the handle broke, and suction fails to lift water.  I am now using my cast iron pump again.  I do not recommend this pump, although the concept is nice for raised storage.
Direct hand water pump to storage barrel.
The vertical pipe top is open to pour water in for priming.

There are many in this world that do not have water so readily available as us.  Many have to travel a distance to collect dirty water in a jug for the family from a well. With all this talk about water, I would be remiss if I didn’t mentioned the water we can drink of and never thirst again, a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  That water and life is from our Savior who cares for us.  (John 4:14, 6:35)