central Texas

central Texas

Gardens Among the Amish

I think that most of us are ready for spring. My friends to the north have had enough snow to last them several winters. Here in Texas, the temperatures have bee extraordinarily cold, then warm, then cold again — pretty standard. The one thing we’re missing is RAIN. Other states are experiencing drought as well–California, for instance. Please pray for us, that God will send us rain to fill the streams, replenish the lakes, and water our gardens.

As I watch for signs of spring, I start thinking about my garden. When is it time to plant? Can I be sure it won’t frost again? What new things do I want to try this year? We have a problem with deer in our area as you can see from the top picture. Generally they find a way to eat anything I plant. But this year, my husband has built a fence around the patio, and we also have a homemade “greenhouse” that we hope to grow some things in. I love fresh vegetables and herbs!

Growing up, we always had a garden, but as I got older and had a family of my own–I became too busy. Or I thought I was too busy. Then I started writing Amish stories and visiting Amish homes. If you’ve been to Amish country, you know that their gardens are a site to behold. There are flowers alongside vegetables. Sunflowers for birdseed, and even objects to add art and whimsy, like the propane tank in the picture above.

shipshewana, INSo what did I learn from my visits to Amish and their gardens?

  1. Growing a garden is hard work, but it’s also quite satisfying.
  2. All the family can help–we saw everyone from the young children to grandma and grandpa helping.
  3. Gardening has a spiritual aspect. When we’re in “the garden” it’s easier to focus on our Lord.
  4. Gardening is healthy. It produces healthy food. It gives us exercise and time in the sun, and it’s a balm for our spirit.
  5. Homegrown produce tastes better. That’s not a scientific fact, but it sure seems to be true. Perhaps it’s the hours you’ve put in caring for your garden. Maybe it’s the way you’ve watched the tomatoes ripen, waiting for the moment you can pick one. I can’t explain this, but it seems that homegrown does taste better.

Garden webWhen I was asked to write a novella for the collection, An Amish Garden, the first thing I did was go back through my pictures of my time visiting the Amish in Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma. These places are all different, with different types of communities, buggies, dress, and even styles of farming. but one thing they had in common was the family garden.

I plan to expand my garden this year. And hopefully, this time, the deer won’t reap the rewards of my labor.