A Problem in the Garden

San Diego County has two growing seasons, the problem this year is that plant life hasn’t quite figured out which season we’re in yet.

Over the past four years, Kristen and I have transformed the front and back yards of our house into garden space. Ridding ourselves of midwestern entrapments, we got rid of the grass. The front garden is entirely WaterWise and California natives and the backyard is a mix of ornamentals, fruit trees, and our vegetable garden.

But I’m having a problem. Our fruit trees are confused about the season they are in.

Our fruit trees were bred specifically for the Southern California climate. But our climate isn’t behaving as it normally does so the trees have no idea what to do.

This fig tree should fruit from August to October. It’s December.

I’ve got fig trees fruiting now that are supposed to fruit in June. I’ve got a nectaplum tree dropping leafs and blossoming at the same time. Same with my pear tree, it never blossomed in the Spring but we got our first blossom in November, when it’s supposed to be going dormant.

Basically, dormancy hasn’t happened. But maybe it will? But maybe it won’t?

Consequently, as the gardener, I don’t really know what to do.

When things happen on time there’s an order to things. Gardeners like and depend on order. First the leafs drop. Then the rains come. Then, as things dry out, you go about your Winter tasks like pruning & shaping, spraying the dormancy treatments for the upcoming growing season, etc.

When things happen out of order it’s unclear what to do when or whether to do those tasks at all.

Even the grapes are confused.

And it raises another question: If dormancy isn’t going to happen naturally, do I help the trees go into dormancy with human interventions? Do I strip the leafs from the tree? Do I pack the trunks in ice to signal to the tree that it’s time to go to sleep for Winter? Or do I just let things play themselves out?

With things happening out of season every gardener is deciding for themselves the best course of action.

What was once dependable and orderly is now chaos.

Can You Identify With That?

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is my life right now.

Things are happening out of season and I have no idea what it means or if it means anything at all. And maybe stuff just happens and it doesn’t mean anything? Sometimes refrigerators just break!

But there’s something to things happening out of order that causes us to ask big questions. Humans like order. We like knowing what to expect.

We like things to happen in the right season.

Ecclesiastes 3

We all know this passage from the Bible…

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, NIV
Our fruit trees might be confused. But they are still pretty.

But we often skip the punchline in this passage!

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

So basically, the author of Ecclesiastes acknowledges something about human nature. When things happen on schedule, we tend to just coast. But when things happen out-of-schedule, there might be a reason: God might be reminding you– He’s in control; you’re not. Your job is just to shut-up and be faithful.

So you’ll find me in the garden doing the best I can.





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