How does your garden grow? by Jason Loh

Living Water

I love watching science fiction movies. There’s something exhilarating about watching technological behemoths patrolling the vastness of the universe, blasting the baddies with photon torpedoes, travelling at faster-than-light speeds.  When a scout ship encounters a new planet, they run sensor scans and – here’s my favourite part – you hear the phrase: “There is water on the planet… It can support life!”

Waterwall

Water is such a crucial ingredient in the formula for life. It is said that we can survive for some 40 days without food (depending on level of physical activity), but only seven days without water. At least 60% of our bodies are made of water, and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning.

Yet Jesus speaks of something on a much deeper level.  Our very souls thirst for God, as if in a dry and parched land (Psalm 63:1).  He is the fountain of life (Jeremiah 17:13) and, if we come to Him, He gives us living water – the Holy Spirit (John 7:39).

This year has seen the UK sweltering under one of its hottest summers on record. We welcome the refreshing sip of an iced drink (have you tried the Lavender Lime Twist?), and the ice cream van is practically the Santa Claus of summer to the kids.

Does your soul thirst for God, as if in a dry land where there is no water? Or are you well sustained by His life-giving Word, like a tree planted beside the river, who has no fear of the drought?

Water and technology

Did you know that you can grow a whole range of plants without any soil?

At its most basic level, what most plants really need is water and nutrients. Soil (or other solid growing medium) essentially acts as a ‘reservoir’ for nutrients, allowing the plants to take up the nutrients when needed.

So, you can expose the plants’ roots to a solution that is rich in nutrients, and it will still grow. In fact, you can have much more control over how much your plants receives. The plant’s root zone would still need to hold its form and help stabilise the plant, but a neutral medium could be used, eg. perlite, rock wool or clay pebbles. If you control the level of nutrients correctly, you could increase yields by at least double!

Hydroponics, as it is known, can be practised as a hobby, but commercial growers use this method as well. You won’t be able to grow subterranean plants, eg. potatoes, but you could have a bumper crop of tomatoes, basil, lettuce… the possibilities are endless.

If you have an unused flat roof, or a heavily paved outdoor space at home/church, hydroponics could be your solution!

Lavender Lime Twist

Gardening

Here’s something different to try.

Ingredients (approximate, adjust to taste)

6 cups of water

2 cups of sugar (try demerara or Chinese ‘yellow rock sugar’)

¼ cup of dried lavender flowers

1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp grated lime zest

Slices of lime to garnish

The lavender adds a soft, warm colour and a lightly smooth fragrance to this thirst quencher. This is how you prepare it:

  • Mix in 2 cups of water, the lavender, sugar and lime zest, and quickly bring to the boil over a high heat. Keep stirring constantly till all the sugar dissolves.
  • Bring the heat down to a low simmer, and leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain the syrup and discard the lavender. You may wish to keep the syrup in the fridge.
  • To prepare the drinks, mix the syrup in a large jug with the remaining 4 cups of water. Add lime juice, some nice chunks of ice and lime slices.
  • Take the drinks out into the garden and enjoy!

Zantedeschia

Gardening-2

These are one of my all-time favourite moisture-loving plants, zantedeschia. Beautiful and elegant, I dub them the ‘Lady of the Lake’.  Zantedeschia generally fall within two categories: the hardier arum lily and the tender calla lily.

Of the arum lilies, there are really only two contenders that are hardy enough to plant outdoors: Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’ (white flowering) and Z. aethiopica ‘Green Goddess’ (smaller white flowers with lovely green splashes).  Utterly majestic and surreal.

Calla lilies: these you will find in a greater variety of colours, but they will not survive outdoors in winter and must be brought indoors. Not often seen, you will need to ask specialists for the yellow (Z. elliotiana), red/orange (Z. ‘Mango’) and pink/purple varieties (Z. rehmannii). Let me know if you manage to get hold of Zantedeschia ‘Picasso’!

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