Better can hurt sometimes. My little tomato buddies told me that this week. I’d been tending to them for about a month. I had been watering them regularly. I would bring them from inside the house on a cool night, to outside during a sunny day. I moved them around in their crinkle-sounding plastic 4-packs. I’d been ‘hardening’ them off, but it turns out, they may not have become ‘hard’ enough, for the transplantation moment…
I had decided to plant my tomatoes this week. Yes it is early, I know… But I felt like I wanted to try to get them in. I am on my second year of the heavy-mulch style garden bed, and the potatoes, peas, onions and garlic are growing along nicely.
The method I used to plant, I learned from a neighbor, who used to come over and help. She showed me how to put my trigger nozzle on the end of the hose, and shoot a stream of water directly into the soil. The water pressure ‘digs’ a perfect little cylindrical scoop into the soft ground. I then took my granular fertilizer and dropped it in. I even added the epsom salt this year, that I bought last year and forgot to use.
The new little home for each of my 20 tomato plants was a dandy spot. Water, food, a thick mulch to lock in the moisture and protect the base in a breeze. I was sure it would serve them well. Or so I thought…
One morning this week I spent a couple hours settling my peppers and tomatoes into the dirt. I mounded hills for squash and zucchini too. The cucumber seeds went in, and some green and yellow beans found spots. By the time I was done, I noticed that my vibrant tomato teenagers had already fallen limp onto the hay…
Shock set in quick with them this year. They didn’t take the transition too well. I was hopeful they would spring back quick, but honestly, only a few are looking real good even three days later. The rest of them? I don’t know. Maybe they aren’t strong enough. Maybe they will lay limp until they dry up and die.
One thing about my thick hay mulch garden is that the soil underneath it, is in amazing condition. It is wet and crumbly, full of worms and rotting compost. But, since the sun cannot sit down on the ground, it is quite cold as of yet. I wonder if the temperature has caused the embarrassing shrinkage and shock, in my formerly happy little plants?
As I saw them in their sad condition, I was disturbed of course. I had spent time and energy and fixed up their spots with all the nutritious goodness I thought they needed. I gave them new homes to sprawl out in. A place to really grow and develop. I freed them from their little plastic prison cells. They have quite a sturdy trellis that they will get to climb… if they can recover from the shock of the transplant, that is.
I know the feeling that these little seedlings are suffering through. I think the lesson sent to me that day is from God. I think that our Almighty Creator sometimes replants us. I think we can be dropped into a new location, a new paradigm, and we can be shocked by it. I think sometimes, this upgrade actually feels like torture at first.
My little plants were happy and lively and standing tall, in their baby plastic ice cube trays. They could never really develop into their full potential living in that one little cup of dirt. They could not grow thick trunk-like stems and produce succulent red fruit without being planted for real. Maybe I planted them early. I did it when I could though. I did it when I thought it was best to do it. Some of them are standing tall again. Even though I buried them up to their necks. 🙂
God does this to us lucky kids. I think our spiritual journey mimics this tomato-moment exactly. When we step out in faith and ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts, we get uprooted out of our little, old, plastic lives. We get planted into the deeeeeeper soil. We are nourished with a new, living water, that quenches in amazing new ways… We are given the opportunity and privilege to grow waaay beyond the scope that our old little container-life could have allowed.
You should have seen all the white wiggling stringy roots fighting for space in their bundled bases. I know that those same roots will now be able to extend and reach and dig deep into the real earth, instead of just the two inch cube of potting moss. The old life of these plants probably would have seemed better to them, after I had stuck them into the cool wet soil and shrank back in a survival reflex motion.
Just like Jesus getting ahold of my life, I want to shrink back. I want the old ways again, please, oh please! I want to reverse the action and climb back into my little protected plastic shell…
I know that the sun is coming. I know that the plants will thrive. I know that I have given them all the opportunity now, to produce wonderful fruit. I will continue to nurture them too. All through their lives. I will take care of them at the end too. I hope that they will be strong through these tough initial days.
God wants me to be strong too. The gift of a new shot at everlasting life is worth the struggle. I can’t imagine the possibility of the new garden I’ve been given to live in. I mainly just want to curl up and shut my eyes and pray for the olden days.
I am sad, that my little plants are taking the transition so hard. I bet God is sad for me too sometimes. Not sad that the effort and gifts and blessings are wasted on me, but that I have failed to breathe deep and relax and enjoy the comforts of my new home enough.
I am missing out on my own new life with God’s abundant love and mercy and grace, because I want to, and that is all. I hope I am one of the few, who are still hanging on, when the sun really starts to shine on me. I hope I haven’t begun the irreversible giving up process when that moment arrives.
God has faith in his plan for me. His designs are flawless, only always. My own fear constrains and pains me. I struggle against myself, usually almost always too. Thanks be to God, for the lessons provided me. I hope I will decide that I am okay enough to survive till spring and summer. And with prayers of expectation for His gentle guidance, I will.
Thanks be to God.
Aaron Nichols 🙂