A Garden for All Seasons

Do you spend days and weeks gardening and when harvest time comes, your days are filled with picking, canning, blanching, and freezing? The good news is, there’s a better way! By planning and working with nature, you can have a garden that produces enough vegetables and fruits over a longer period of the year with a minimum of preserving. Depending on where you live, here are eight tips to get you started.

  1. 1.

    Plant perennial fruits, vegetables, and herbs. These plants tend to come up before seeds are ready to go into the ground and are ready to harvest when other plants are seedlings. Strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, asparagus, and chives are common.

  2. 2.

    Use mulched, raised beds. In early spring you can move organic mulch from last year’s garden to reveal soil that is ready to plant without tilling. Early vegetables such as peas, spinach, and lettuce can be planted as soon as one or two inches of soil can be worked.

  3. 3.

    Plant varieties of the same vegetables. You can plant early, mid, and late season varieties to spread the harvest over several weeks. This is especially helpful with crops that tend to ripen all at once.

  4. 4.

    Plant more cool weather and root vegetables. Cool weather vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and some greens improve in flavor after a few frosts and can be left in the garden. Root vegetables can be covered with at least 12 inches of mulch so the ground doesn’t freeze and can be used during winter. Turnips, for example, can be left in the ground for use all winter and as early greens in the spring. You can also plant seeds of some cool weather cultivated varieties in the fall so they will sprout in early spring.

  5. 5.

    Plant field varieties of corn, beans, and peas. Field varieties are the kind that dry on the stalk. Field corn can stay on the cob until you are ready to grind it. Bean stalks and pea vines can be pulled from the garden and hung upside down until you can shell them.

  6. 6.

    Select varieties that store well. Apples, nuts, cabbages, potatoes, and winter squash, to name a few, can be kept for months if stored properly. Pumpkins and sweet potatoes can be kept in basements if the temperature is 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7–4.4° C) and humidity is about 50 percent. In the United States, you can contact your local county extension agent for more information. Also, remember to store only unblemished produce, and check weekly for signs of spoilage.

  7. 7.

    Plant year-round if you live in a warm climate. Heat-loving plants such as okra, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes can be grown when it’s too hot for other plants.

  8. 8.

    Protect plants from the cold. Use cold frames and hot beds to prolong a growing season. Cold frames use solar heat, and hot beds use the heat from composting matter. These gardening devices create miniature greenhouses that help prolong the growing season. Also, be sure to cover plants during first frosts.

Not only can we enjoy garden produce over a much longer period, potentially all year, but we can more fully appreciate how the Lord provides for us when we do our part. We can learn how to use “every herb … and every fruit … with prudence and thanksgiving” (D&C 89:11).Holly Furgason, Memorial Park Ward, Houston Texas East Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

You’ve Got Mail … and a Journal

If your family is like ours, helping your children become interested in journal writing can be a challenge. We used to have family home evenings about the importance of keeping a journal, but our initial enthusiasm usually faded quickly. Then we discovered an easy, exciting way to help our family better record life events: e-mail journals.

Originally we opened e-mail accounts (many are free) for each of our children to encourage weekly correspondence with extended family living across the country. Every week they wrote about the interesting, happy, and sad events they had experienced. My husband and I soon realized that these e-mails contained some of our children’s best journal material. We saved and printed any e-mails of interest, then compiled them in a three-ring binder for each child.

We have benefited greatly from keeping e-mail journals. Not only have our children become acquainted with long-distance relatives, but they have also become more motivated to write, thus improving their writing skills. And our younger children participate, too, because we simply type what they want to say! The whole family has been enthusiastic about keeping e-mail journals, and it is an easy way to preserve our day-to-day thoughts and correspondence with loved ones.Anastasia Kneeland, North Highlands Second Ward, Sacramento California Antelope Stake

Family Night Flexibility

When we were first married and starting our family, my husband and I committed to follow the counsel of our prophets and hold a weekly family home evening. Over the years, we discovered several ways to hold family night regularly.

  1. 1.

    Be flexible. For a time, our family held two-part family home evenings to accommodate our schedules. We had a lesson on Sunday and an activity on Monday. Having two “mini” family nights helped us meet consistently together and provide appropriate Sunday activities as well as family time on Mondays. When my husband attended night classes for graduate work, we held family home morning for almost a year. This is also an effective way to include spouses who work evenings.

  2. 2.

    Develop traditions. Plan activities that your family can look forward to. We have enjoyed a variety of family activities, including our version of the Olympics and a Backwards Party for Leap Year.

  3. 3.

    Widen your circle. When my husband served as bishop, we sometimes invited new families in the ward to join us for family home evening. We also invited students who were attending a nearby university. Our family received blessings as we fellowshipped others and shared our enthusiasm for family home evening. No matter where we live, there is always someone we can invite to family home evening.

  4. 4.

    Organize an “Empty Nester” family home evening group. When our children grew up and left home, we organized a monthly “Empty Nester” group. Through this group, we have enjoyed uplifting discussions with friends who might otherwise spend Monday nights alone.

With some creativity, we have been richly blessed by following the admonition of our prophets to strengthen our families through family home evening.Kathryn W. Hales, Ellensburg Second Ward, Selah Washington Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker