Annual Rye Cover Crop #1
Buckwheat Cover Crop #2
Oats Third and Final Cover Crop

Ever since I was about 5 years old, I’ve had an ongoing interest in growing things-vegetables, flowers and even trees. The first little tidbits of gardening knowledge came from paying attention to what my great-grandfather and both grandfathers had to say when they were planting or working in their gardens. Even my great-aunt taught me a little about flowers! (She would have been excited to see our geraniums that are over 20 years old!)

As a young teenager, I would ride my bike and stop to talk when I would see an older man working in his garden (he had a good-looking garden, I always knew the people where I stopped, and he knew me… was a very small community!) This man especially had a huge garden, but always had what looked like grass or something growing next to it and the following year his garden was where the “grass” had been, and the “grass” was growing where the garden had been the year before! When I asked him about the garden appearing to change sides each year, he explained to me about “cover crops” and how they improve the soil and supply nutrients for the following years garden. So…..That was about 50 years ago, and I’ve been learning about and practicing ways to always improve my garden soil ever since. Over thirty years ago, when I selected the site where our garden is now, you could say I was somewhat prepared for what I discovered, because the “soil” was a heavy clay and nearly impossible to even till-up! But I remembered what I had learned about improving the soil with cover crops! So that first year I just worked on the soil growing annual rye, turning it into the soil when it started to form seed heads. Then a couple weeks later I planted buckwheat over that and that stayed on until it was killed by the first frost. In the spring I tilled the remains of the buckwheat in and after just one year of cover crops the difference in that soil was very noticeable. So, I planted some vegetables and some more cover crops, the vegetables did great, and the soil continued to improve. Eventually that garden grew in size, the soil became rich, light and full of nutrients. We do the “half one year, and then the reverse method” like the man taught me when I was a teenager. We grow popcorn on half and on the other half grows three different cover crops, each one pulling different nutrients up from the subsoil to the topsoil, then when the plants get tilled under, they feed the red worms that are constantly improving the soil. Then of course next year’s popcorn grows where the cover crops were growing, and the popcorn always has rich soil to grow in because of the cover crops that were grown there the year before.

Maybe some who don’t have experience growing things or do but view it as drudgery may not understand WHY someone would want to “do all that work” or “waste all that time” even learning about such things! Well, we’re all different with different interests or hobbies that we like to do, or don’t like to do! I like to think that this has just been one of the many small things in my life that I enjoy and when I remember God has created all this for us to work with and try to figure out… ends up being “a small puzzle piece” that helps spell out the word CONTENTMENT in my life!

In the first several verses of Luke 8, Jesus gave the people around him “The Parable of the Sower.” He told how “seed” (the Word of God) needs good “soil” (hearts) to really take root and grow-long term. As believers in Christ, we can keep improving the soil of our hearts by being under solid Bible preaching and teaching, develop a personal Bible study habit-even if it’s only several verses a day-develop that good habit. But be patient, because like working with that clay soil in my garden, our “heart soil” eventually becomes more and more receptive to God’s Word. Then when “the waters of life get a little too rough or too deep” (and they will!) You will be able to hold on with Joy in your heart! ……I know because I’ve seen that harvest as well.

Till Next Time…..

One response to “IMPROVING THE SOIL”

  1. That was great! In all my years in church, I’ve never heard someone talk about the soil! Great lesson, Steve.

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