Saturday, November 5, 2016

An End and a Beginning

It is the end of our shemitah year and the beginning of our 15th year of living on our property as we moved here November of 2001.  That statement makes me think of a couple of things.

  1. My shemitah year cycle may be strange to others as it doesn’t coincide with the calendar year but rather my understanding of a growing cycle.  For my blog on the explanation of what shemitah means go here
  2. We have lived here for 15 years but I don’t feel like we have accomplished much.

I will start with our shemitah.  We let the land rest with the idea that we didn’t actively DO anything as far as planting goes.  However, we did let the weeds grow and chop them down occasionally.  The end result was pretty much a mess.  Very messy, and it made my cringe thinking about letting people see it.

My flower garden on the East terrace.
While technically not included in the idea of letting our food or crop land rest, I did let my flower gardens go as well.

However, to be honest and transparent and willing to help others, I have to be willing to let people see the imperfect.  No one learns from a perfect scenario, ie. : one plants a seed, it grows and produces fruit with no hardship.  It is through trials that one’s learning is perfected.  Ouch…  My Dear Friend reminds me often to, “Look for the lesson” when I am in the midst of difficulty.  This is the most beneficial response to an issue.  The issue is not good or bad really, it is my response to it that can generate good or bad.  Stuff happens, how I respond is where life is blessed or destroyed.

I did plant my tender bulbs and roots which included a row of Dahlias.  These plants were almost continually covered by various kinds of bees, butterflies, moths and other insects.  Here two bumble bees are busy on one of my dahlia plants that I started from seed several years ago.

So here are my gardens this year, in all their messy glory.  Many of the plants that grew were volunteers from last year, dill, fennel, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, petunias, a lone carrot and alyssum.  Many more weeds were plants that I consider weeds despite the fact that they are medicinals to some people with more knowledge than I.  And of course, there were just regular weeds that even the rabbits, turkey and deer in my backyard didn’t eat, instead preferring my hostas and kale.  Apparently they have figured out that my dogs no longer live here.

Beds 1 – 3, some lamb’s ear mixed in with various weeds, some over 4 feet tall.

Beds 4 – 8 and 12  Let’s just say that Lamb’s Quarters REALLY liked our rest year.  They were easily 6 feet tall in bed 12.  The tall brown thing on the left of the bed was my lovage plant which smells and tastes like celery.   A couple of volunteer mammoth sunflowers in the back along with morning glories and bronze fennel were happy amongst the plethora of opportunistic plants taking over the world.

Beds 8 – 10 along with the berry bed and 11   Bed 11 was our most productive bed of volunteers that we could eat.
Several Kale plants overwintered along with the ashitaba, purple chives and Asian greens.

Chop, chop.  Sir T got out the hedge trimmers and cut down everything that I identified as a weed and left the edible food plants.  We left the trimmings on the bed as a kind of green mulch.

Post chopping, all the plants were around 4 inches tall or pulled out rather than 4 foot giants.

The reason my shemitah or how I count a growing season runs from one fall (starting after we complete Sukkot, the final Biblical Fall Feast) to the next year’s Sukkot is because of when I plant fall bulbs.  I plant my garlic in late fall to be harvested the following summer.  My flowering bulbs are planted in the fall for next spring’s bloom as well.  If I plant a fall crop to overwinter for early harvest next spring, I consider that “next year’s garden” despite the calendar date.  This works for me.  It may not be how others count growing seasons or the shemitah year but this makes sense to me.

My second thought of in 15 years we have not done much, is very much related to all the gardening videos we have watched this year and garden tours taken via computer and in person.  We are starting a Permaculture Course this month which will teach us how to do many things with a mindset of stewardship and improving the land, soil and our health in the long run.  Watching other’s testimonies of what miracles they have wrought on their properties, demonstrates how much more we could be doing and what possibilities we haven’t even started to explore, yes even on our small chunk of sand dune.

When I mentioned this discouraging fact to Sir T, his response was, “Well, let’s make a plan and change that.”  How cool.  It is not about the past, but where we are going in the future.

I will leave you with a picture of what I did do this past year.  Dance.  I was away from home and Sir T more this year than all the years of our marriage combined.  I had the opportunity to teach and share worship dance and flagging in several places around the country and was a featured guest at Pilgrim’s Sound which was a Music and Arts festival.  Yes, airplanes were involved.  The rest from the garden opened up opportunities that would not have been possible.

Marvelous Light flag dance presentation at Sukkot with flags that I made.  Photo Credit:  Al Teixeira


  1. Shannon, Abba produces much through you and "Sir T" both in and away from the garden. As for the dance at Sukkot especially, your smile was unlike any other expression I've ever seen on your face in all the times I've seen you dance. sometimes we know we're supposed to smile as part of a presentation so we do it. But at Sukkot this year when you danced with the flags, it was truly like Yeshua's joy came smiling right through you and into the room. what a blessing! even messy glory can be exquisite.

  2. A time to plant, a time to harvest.
    A time to dance, a time for joyous expression.
    Always time to rest in our Maker's Presence and be who He created us to be!
    With all my love to my beautiful daughter!