Did you know that everyone has two notable gardens? One that is planned and planted, and one that is imagined but never materializes. The garden that is planned and planted is where it all starts. Careful planning and thoughtful consideration are put into action and hope emerges. The imagined garden is where it ends.

This year, as food costs continue to rise, I hope that you are looking at ways to grow some of your own. There are many ways to supplement your grocery bill if you are just willing to try. Some people take the all-or-nothing approach and plant gardens with the intention of growing everything that they plan to eat. This plan will likely involve greater gardening skills, season-extending apparatuses, food preservation skills and some equipment. It is also quite time consuming.

Others take the “eating-through-the-seasons” approach. This is a smaller scale approach in which you grow things in raised beds and containers that you really enjoy eating fresh, and when it is in-season, such as tomatoes or okra. This way of gardening is one of the most popular because of the amount of food that can be grown in relatively small spaces, and it does not require a lot of weeding.

One of my favorite gardening approaches is “snackscaping.” This is where you strategically grow things that allow you to snack off your patio or balcony, or in your backyard, when things are producing. This way of gardening employees the use of micro-vegetables varieties, dwarf plants, berries and vertical gardening techniques. It’s growing plants in smaller areas that offer high yields so that you can pick and eat while enjoying your outdoor living spaces. These are perfect gardens for kids, busy singles or small families.

And for those who are sure that they have absolutely no time for any formal gardening simply setting out a few pots of culinary herbs on the porch can dramatically improve the quality of your meals.

Regardless of which approach you take, any gardening effort will be valuable. God always blesses our efforts and you and your family are sure to enjoy even the smallest things that you produce. Social media sites are filled with experienced people willing to teach you how to grow, preserve and prepare your garden harvest. Yet many times it is as simple as picking it and enjoying it in the moment.

It is really fun to daydream about beautiful Pinterest-inspired spaces. But the reality is, groceries are extremely expensive and plants will grow just about anywhere. Your garden doesn’t have to be beautiful (or expensive) to produce food. If the goal is to offset the bottom line or to eat fresher, then it can be done with just a little planning and preparation. There are several great resources available for you.

Oklahoma State University offers Fact Sheets on practically every gardening question that you can think of. To download these helpful guides, you can access the database here https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/.

In the Bible, there are also two notable gardens. The first is the Garden of Eden and the second is the Garden of Gethsemane. The exact location of these two gardens is not as important as what happened in each of them.

In the Garden of Eden, we see the manifestation of God’s careful planning and thoughtful consideration. God put His plan into action. It is here that He created and placed the first man and woman. Life on planet earth and hope emerged. However, in the Garden of Gethsemane, we see a very significant part of His plan coming to a close. Jesus’ time of earthly ministry was ending, and the cross was at hand.

I am so thankful that God loved us enough that He had a plan and He put it in action. Romans 5:8 tells us that, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Unlike gardens where you have to at least do some work to receive a reward, the gift of eternal life is work free. There is no amount of work that you could do to earn it. Jesus did it for you!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9