Pruning the Garden of Your Heart
Lessons Learned from Weeding Our Vegetable Garden
by Joanne Troppello
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn
When I searched online for a quote to add to my article today, I saw that statement from Audrey Hepburn and just had to use it here. It resonates with exactly how I feel about our garden.
I do not have a green thumb. I’ve killed my share of plants through the years, not on purpose, but because I usually forget to water them or water them too much.
However, several years ago, my husband and I decided to plant our first vegetable garden. I was nervous since I had no idea what I was doing. However, it went well, mostly because my husband had experience with gardening since his mom and nonna had a garden for many years.
We moved to a smaller place for a few years and didn’t have space to do a garden. Now, we live next door to my sister and her girls and have planted a shared garden. This is our second year with the garden where we live now. It’s been an interesting experience and extremely fun.
My sister, her daughters, and I worked together to prepare the ground one week and then my sister and I planted the vegetable plants the following weekend. We have a pumpkin plant, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, and two bell pepper plants and two tomato plants.
We also planted a snow pea plant. That was our first time planting this one. However, we didn’t pick the pea pods quickly enough. I guess we hesitated since we didn’t know when they’d be ripe. We were supposed to research about it. However, both my sister and I were busy with work and life and family and weren’t able to pick them. She went on vacation with her girls for a few days and mentioned I should pick them, but I never got around to it—and now the snow pea plant doesn’t look so good.
Weeding the Garden
When my husband and I planted our first garden several years ago, we laid down mesh fabric and cut holes into it for the plants—so we could avoid weeds growing, as much as possible.
We didn’t do that with the garden this year or last year. We had more vegetable plants last year, so they covered the soil area, and the weeds were not as visible—even though they still grew in the garden.
Also, as new gardeners, it was enough work just keeping up with the watering and picking. Last year, we had so many cucumbers (three plants) that grew all at once. The cucumbers grew very large because we didn’t see them underneath the “forest of leaves” from the cucumber plants and failed to pick them at the optimal “normal” size.
We’ve learned our lesson and will do better at checking the vegetables as they ripen. With less plants this year, the weeds were more visible and took over the spaces in between the plants.
Now, I know this was stupid, but I went outside two days ago (on the hottest and most humid day this week) to weed the garden. I knew it had to be done and I was already hot and sweaty from cleaning the house, that I just decided to go out and weed the garden. That happened around 1:30 pm.
I was determined to finish, even though I thought I’d die by the end of it. I could barely carry the large trash bag full of weeds, roots, and some soil that hadn’t shaken off, to the trash bin. My sister saw me from her kitchen window and came out to bring me a glass of water.
She must have thought I was crazy to weed the garden in such heat and humidity. However, I explained why, and admitted that I knew it was stupid.
Today, the temperature was a cool 68 degrees (as compared to the 90’s from Monday when I first weeded the garden). Weeding the garden today was pleasant and much easier—due to the cooler temperature and because I’d done the harder work earlier in the week.
For the first time, I felt so proud of working in the garden, getting into the dirt (even though I did wear gloves), and doing something productive. I felt proud the other two times we planted gardens. Yet, this time—after nearly passing out and doing such hard work weeding—I felt so invested in this garden.
After weeding, I cut the dead parts from the snow pea plant. I looked closely and saw several small green leaves and buds growing. My sister and I had been upset that the plant died—or at least we thought it did.
My husband parks next to the garden in that part of the driveway. He “inspected” the garden Monday and complimented me on the weeding job. However, he said, “That snow pea plant is gone. It’s dead.”
Harsh words that I didn’t want to hear about the snow pea plant. Yet, I feared he might be right. Although, seeing that new life in the plant today gave me hope.
Maybe the plant will thrive again. Maybe it won’t, but I have hope. This hope is not fleeting and based on nothing (like it was a few days ago). Now, I see actual proof that my hope may have been based on something real, that the plant was still alive—it just needed to be pruned.
Jesus is the Vine
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” – John 15:1-8 (NKJV)
This passage of scripture is so relevant to the word picture of weeding the garden and pruning the snow pea plant.
Jesus is the true vine and God, the Father, is the vinedresser (verse 1). You can read in verse four that the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, only if you abide in Jesus. You can do nothing of relevance for the Kingdom and from true spiritual significance without God working in your life through the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 5).
Have you been weeding the garden of your heart and spirit, and pruning the dead branches and fruit? That is the spiritual journey I’m on right now—only through God’s grace, peace, and strength each day.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel. Connect with Joanne on Twitter. You can find Joanne on these social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Spreely, and Clouthub—with the same username, @JoanneTroppello—and @joannetroppello.mseedsentinel on Instagram. Visit the Mustard Seed Sentinel YouTube Channel. Check out MSS Live Well Corner.