Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How much to plant..."Here am I. Send me!"

If you have been keeping up with my gardening journey, welcome back.  If you stumbled upon this article first, feel free to peruse these links and see how I decided where to put my garden and how much food my family goes through in a year.

Now that we are all caught up, let's move unto my next need:  how much do I need to plant?

To start, I scoured the Internet and compiled a list of how much each kind of plant produces.  I made a spreadsheet that I could easily fill out:
A few notes to be taken into consideration:  Garlic is in terms of cloves.  One plant will yield about 10 cloves of garlic.

And let's take a few minutes to talk about the confusion that is tomatoes!  There are two kinds, determinate (bush) and indeterminate (vine).  There is so much info about them, but it all seems to boil down to:

Determinate (bush): takes up more space.  Doesn't need pruning or support and produces most of the tomatoes in a short time.  Seems like this is the way to go for canning.

Indeterminate (vine): takes up less ground space, but more vertical space.  Needs to be pruned and supported and produces the entire season.  Seems like the way to go if you want fresh tomatoes all season.

For me, I'm going to plant a few vine tomatoes (maybe 6) and then the rest bush tomatoes.  I think come canning time I will be counting on everyone to help me process them all!

Okay, enough tomato talk, let's talk squate footage.  After filling out my spreadsheet, I found I would need 900 square feet. So onward I went finding a way of removing 210 square feet from my garden.  It is probably for the best, since I have to weed it all!

Here is my worksheet with only the pertinent columns shown (this was prior to my jazzing it up for you guys)!
My main space takers are: potatoes, bush tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  I don't want to give up carrots, but that seems like an awful lot of tomatoes and potatoes.  So, I'm going to reduce my tomatoes to 35 bush plants and 6 vines and my potatoes down to 600.  I've also certain my husband will gladly refrain from broccoli and cauliflower, so I'm cutting each of those in half.  After making other adjustments, I've come to this:

That will work out nicely and best of all, it will all fit in my garden.  When I try to lay it all out I may have to reduce further, but this gives me a nice jumping point.  So feel free to print out a copy and get to work figuring out your own garden.  If you want the excel document, just add a comment to this post and I'll be sure to email it to you.

I'm getting so excited to get this garden going, in just a few weeks I'll be starting my indoor plants.  But what I'm most excited about is having my own tomato sauce!  I can close my eyes and imagine the jars upon jars of tomato sauce.  Glorious tomato sauce...made from beautiful bushes of tomatoes, which when watered properly will result in twelve pounds each, maybe even more.  There is even a Guinness World Record for the most pounds of tomatoes produced by a single plant...care to take a guess?  No Googling....my husband guessed 50.  HA!  The answer: 1151.84 lbs held by Walt Disney World.

Could you even imagine how awesome that would be?  I could plant one plant and feed not just my family, but my whole neighborhood.  People would come from all over the world just to get a glimpse at the glory that was my tomato plant.  Will I achieve that?  I can say with certainty that I will absolutely not get anywhere near 1151 pounds of tomatoes from my 41 plants, let alone a single tomato plant.  While Disney World has the money and climate necessary to pull off such a feet, I live in garden zone 5 and have a tomato budget of about 15 dollars.  So I am just going to skip planting tomatoes all together, if I can't be the best, I won't!

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  Well....IT IS!  I may not get enough tomatoes to set a record, but I can certainly get enough to sustain my family.  My absolute favorite hymn is inspired by Isaiah chapter seven, verse eight: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Isaiah was facing a difficult task but when God asked for a volunteer to complete the task of delivering news to his people; people that weren't even going to listen, Isaiah declared, "Here am I. Send me!Isaiah did not hesitate.  There would be no glory, no honor from those around him (at least not in Isaiah's lifetime).  Yet the Lord commanded him to complete this task and he willingly did so.  

Now, you may have heard this hymn before, you may have sung it.  It is entitled, "Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling" and is inspired by Isaiah's willingness to answer the Lord's calling for him.  Below are the words:

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
"Who will go and work today?
Fields are white and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?"

Loud and long the master calls you;
Rich reward he offers free.
Who will answer, gladly saying,
"Here am I. Send me, send me"?

If you cannot speak like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus;
You can say he died for all.

If you cannot rouse the wicked
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Savior’s waiting arms.

If you cannot be a watchman,
Standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Offering life and peace to all,

With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what God demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophet’s hands.

Let none hear you idly saying,
"There is nothing I can do,"
While the multitudes are dying
And the master calls for you.

Take the task he gives you gladly;
Let his work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when he calls you,
"Here am I. Send me, send me!"

This hymn, like Isaiah's answer to the Lord has such a powerful command of my attention.  Every stanza is filled with an example of someone with great power and then a more humble version of the same calling.  God wants us to serve him; serve him with gusto!  God sent angels prior to his questioning of Isaiah to encourage him because God wanted for Isaiah to declare without hesitation, "Here am I.  Send me!"  Isaiah's example is  profound and inspiring! 

So today though I may not grow the best yielding tomato plants, I am still going to plan my garden knowing that I am going to grow the best tomato plants that I can and it will be good enough for a 15 dollar budget in garden zone 5!

I encourage you (if you are still reading after such a lengthy post) that even if you may not be a pastor or a missionary or even be able to leave your house you can tell someone of Jesus' love for them!  God is calling all of us humble tomato growers to plant the seed of faith in others!  God doesn't need to us be perfect, he just needs us to hear his calling for us and excitedly declare, "Here am I, Send Me!"

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