This row of broccoli is looking good. The heads are tight, and the florets are all tucked nicely in there.
But I have a row of Calbrese in the cage that look quite different. The extreme dryness has caused the plants to bolt: the head has sprouted to quickly, the florets aren't tightly packed and they've gone to flower. I'm pretty sure it was lack of watering that caused this to happen. That'll teach me not to go swanning off to London when there are little babies to be looked after!
The curly cabbage,
and white cabbage are coming together nicely too.
Our courgette plants were struggling a bit - again, because of the lack of rain - but they seem to be coming on nicely now.
Last year, I planted some beetroot from seed - straight into the ground - but I also grew some in the greenhouse and planted them outside as seedlings. They were much more successful, and so that's what I did with all the beetroot this year.
Where there are plants ... there are weeds. It's difficult to work in a garden without thinking of how sin takes root in our hearts, just like these weeds take root in The Plot.
The strange thing is that some weeds actually look quite nice.
Look at the bonny flower on this one...
And look at these pretty leaves...
But if I were to leave them ...
...this would happen!
Yep, some sins don't seem that bad from the outside. Our fellow man may not even think they're ugly, or that they really need the rough treatment. They may even encourage us in our sin, by convincing us that our pride is actually us making our homes beautiful.
Or that our selfishness is actually our taking good care of our own well-being.
Or that our ambition is actually a desire to use all our talents to God's glory.
Of course, our neat house, our taking care of ourselves and our using of our talents to God's glory may be God-honouring and good. But sometimes - just sometimes - we know there is underlying sin there. Oh, it may show itself as a bonny flower or a pretty leaf. But if we don't keep it under control it will destroy the good plants around it. It will consume our hearts.
Let us never trifle with sin, but dig deep, find the root, admit sin for what it really is ... and then yank it out with all that we have.
Some weeds are easy to pull out. Loosen the ground surrounding the weed, and give a gentle tug. Weed and roots come out.
Job done. (For now, at least. They always always appear again if I'm not very attentive.)
But there are other weeds.... and yes, some of them even have pretty flowers attached ...
and they are impossible to get rid of in their entirety. At least, I've found it impossible to get the whole root out. No matter how carefully I loosen the soil around this weed; no matter how deep the trowel goes, I pull and I hear the roots breaking. Yes, the top of the weed has come. It's not going to devour the good plants around it for now. Yes, I've managed to take the visible part away. But, as sure as I'm breathing, that blighter is going to appear again.
And so, whilst making every effort to keep my garden weed-free, and whilst every weed removed is good and necessary if I wish to see my good plants thriving, yet I know that in the end, I can only do so much.
And I thank God that, though there are many comparisons to be drawn with the garden and my heart, with the weeds and my sin, with the weeding and my desire to subdue sin in my own life, in the end I know this:
I will not be saved because I have got rid of all the weeds in the garden of my heart;
My gracious and glorious Gardener, who tends my heart with more love and patience than I have in my garden, covers me with His righteousness;
because I am In Christ (see Ephesians 1), I have "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (v7)
I am saved by Him, and not of any works of my own. For that, I will praise Him for all eternity, and whilst here and tending my garden, I will always think of sin ... and of salvation! Of work and of grace! Of impatient gardeners and of the merciful Gardener of my soul!
"And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, ... But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. By grace are ye saved." (Ephesians 2: 1-4)
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