Harvesting Broccoli

I miss the cold weather in Manila. I miss it terribly. Although we were already warned by many reports, it was still heartbreaking for me to experience the heat so soon, because I wanted the cold weather to last for a few more months. I was just getting used to wearing hoodies, not experiencing sweat that much and constantly feeling the cool breeze whenever I would take a quick walk outside. However, when I stay inside or go outside of our house nowadays, I’m not able to feel and appreciate the cold, fresh air anymore.

My first Broccoli. :)
My first Broccoli. :)

Just last week, I got so affected by the sudden change in the weather because I noticed how both my Broccoli and Cherry Tomato plants were having a difficult time surviving each day. Before, watering the plants twice a day (morning and evening) was already sufficient. But because of the extreme heat recently, the plants and soil dried up immediately after they were watered.

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Also, I noticed how weird my Broccoli eventually looked like. In my former posts, I showed photos of how the Broccoli plant was able to produce its first Broccoli, but when I had a closer look at it a few days ago, I saw little flower buds growing on it. The Broccoli certainly didn’t look like the ones being sold at the supermarket. It had puffy buds.

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After doing more research online, I found out that the heat and lack of water caused the Broccoli to grow prematurely, thus, allowing the flower buds to grow. And when we allow the yellow Broccoli flowers to grow on its head more, it would eventually develop a bitter taste. So, I inspected the head and saw that some of the flower buds already started to open up a bit. At first, I didn’t want to remove it from its stem since it was still a small head. But then, I also knew that I needed to harvest it soon because if I didn’t, it would end up as a ball of yellow, inedible Broccoli flowers. I prayed about it and decided to harvest the head the next day.

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Steamed Broccoli with Salt & Pepper. They were quite sweet! :)

When I was tempted to complain and grumble last week, God encouraged me to thank Him instead because He gave me the privilege of growing even just a small head of Broccoli. It reminded me of the verse in the Bible where it says:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord…”

[Habakkuk 3:17-18]

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Two days ago, I went online and browsed through one of my favorite gardening blogs, White On Rice Couple (http://whiteonricecouple.com/). To my surprise, the couple behind the blog shared about how they lost their 10-year old Blood Orange tree due to overwatering. Somehow, I sympathized with them because I felt like I lost my 9-month old Broccoli plant when it grew a head prematurely because of the heat and lack of water. But in their blog, they shared about how they decided to plant a new tree to replace the old one. And that simple act reminded me of hope. Hope not in ourselves or in the situations around us, but Hope that is found in God who causes things to grow.

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When I first planted the Broccoli seed, I remember placing a sign in the pot to encourage me. It said “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” [1 Corinthians 3:7]

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Thank You, Lord, for the past nine months of growing a Broccoli seed and learning more about You from it. Thank you for allowing it to grow. I look forward to growing more plants and trees with You in the near future. ‘Til our next harvest!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Simple Sunday Snack: Little Trees (Broccoli) with Sticky Cheese

Exactly a week ago, I was hanging out at our veranda where our cherry tomato and broccoli plants were. It was such a joy for me to see a new batch of cherry tomatoes ready for harvest. However, I couldn’t help but wonder when the Broccoli plants would produce their heads. I then decided to do more research about it after I finished watering the plants that morning.

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While I was watering one of the Broccoli plants, I noticed something different in the middle area. It looked like a baby Broccoli head, but I wasn’t sure yet. I told my sister, “Ate, I think the Broccoli has a head!” and I asked her to check it out too. After a few seconds of observing, we both concluded that it did grow a tiny head! Oh, you could just imagine how happy I was! I remember feeling physically weak that time because I was sick, but the moment I saw the head, I jumped up and down like a happy bunny while shouting “YAY!!!!”.

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After eight months of waiting, one of the Broccoli plants finally produced its baby and I am one happy, proud, and grateful gardener!

It took a lot of faith and courage for me to plant the Broccoli seeds months ago because I knew that it was a cold weather plant. In the Philippines, they usually grow these in Baguio and in other cold places. So, the chances of it growing in Manila (considering its usual hot weather) were really small. But by God’s grace, He made the weather in this country cooler recently. As you can see in the news articles I included below, we have experienced really cold days in the country last month!

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Interestingly, PAGASA even recorded the coldest day (so far) of 2014 last Sunday (January 26, 2014), the day when the baby Broccoli head grew!

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God used that moment to encourage me to continue being faithful and to trust in His faithfulness and provision. Honestly, there were days when I didn’t feel like watering the Broccoli plants because they were only growing leaves and not the vegetable that I wanted. And during those days, the leaves of one of the plants wilted and I thought that it was already going to die. But after two days of regularly watering it again, the leaves stood tall!

“Faithfulness is not doing something right once but doing something right over and over and over and over.” –Joyce Meyer

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God showed me how the discipline of watering the plants daily and taking care of them every now and then also helped in growing a healthy plant. I know that I have so much more to improve on and I hope and pray that by His grace, I will also be faithful in the other aspects of my life. In maintaining good relationships, in honoring Him with my daily walk with Jesus, in doing my best at work and in ministry, in regularly tithing, and even in taking good care of the things He has given me.

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Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

 

Looking forward to the day when I can harvest the beautiful Broccoli! I’ll most probably blog about it soon. But for now, I’ll be sharing a simple snack for you guys:

LITTLE TREES WITH STICKY CHEESE

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Butter

Spices (Salt, Pepper)

Mozzarella cheese (or quick-melt cheese) at room temperature

 

Steps:

1. Cut the Broccoli into smaller pieces. Steam for 3-5 minutes, depending on your desired texture.

2. Season the steamed Broccoli with salt and pepper.

3. Add a tablespoon of butter and grated cheese on the vegetable while it’s still hot.

4. Enjoy! It’s a great source of vitamin C!

 

Read more about growing Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes here: http://encouragingtreats.com/growing-broccoli-cherry-tomatoes/

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Growing Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes

Eight months ago, Nick Vujicic shared God’s word and his testimony during the Unstoppable conference at our church. I will never forget that time because it was a humbling experience for me. Before he ended his talk, he challenged the participants to grow more in their walk with God. And by God’s grace, I took the challenge and surrendered my heart again to Jesus.

On our way home, God randomly encouraged me to plant an actual seed and make it grow. At that time, I realized that God was supporting my desire to grow in my walk with Him and He wanted me to constantly be reminded of it through gardening.

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And so, the next day, I bought a new pot, a bag of loose soil, broccoli seeds and I started planting my first vegetable. After watering the two seeds for 10 days, two tiny Broccoli leaves grew and I couldn’t believe my eyes! I loved it! Because I enjoyed the experience so much, I decided to buy another pot, another bag of soil, and a pack of cherry tomato seeds.

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The Broccoli Seed
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The Cherry Tomato Seed

 

I really thank God for the privilege of gardening. He has been gracious in keeping them alive and well since day one and I am always in awe of how He is able to create such beautiful things and make them grow and bear fruit.

I’d like to share with you some of the valuable lessons I’ve learned since I started planting the Broccoli and Cherry Tomato seeds:

FIRST: God makes things Grow in His Perfect Time.

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Baby Broccoli leaves

I read in various websites that we can harvest Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes after two months. However, in my case, I was only able to harvest the tomatoes after seven and a half months and I’m still waiting for my broccoli plants to produce their heads.

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Young, fragile Broccoli plant

It might have been ‘discouraging’ for me to see them grow slowly, but through this, I am reminded by God that He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. So, if He thinks it’s best for the tomatoes or broccoli to grow and bear fruit immediately, He can and will allow it to happen.

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Beautiful Broccoli leaves

 

In the same way, there are certain areas in my life where I feel like I’m not growing or progressing as fast as I want to. But, despite this, I am encouraged to trust that God knows best; that He is constantly at work in my life; and that He will allow me to grow into the woman that He wants me to be in His perfect time.

Ephesians 3:20 says: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

SECOND: Growth Requires Discipline and Perseverance.

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Baby Cherry Tomato plant

For the past eight months, I’ve done my best to regularly water the plants. However, I do remember instances (especially at night) when I would deliberately choose to ignore my responsibility and do other things like: sleeping or watching TV series or surfing the internet or sleeping (again). And sadly, when I don’t practice the discipline of watering the plants, giving them fertilizer, and taking out the weeds (which hinder their growth), I end up having unhealthy and unhappy plants.

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Top view of the Cherry Tomato plant

John Maxwell once said “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”

By God’s grace, He has been showing me the importance of discipline and perseverance not only in gardening, but also in my day-to-day activities. If I want to grow in my walk with God, then I must be willing to regularly spend time with Him in prayer and by reading/studying the Bible. I must also learn to constantly remove and let go of the things that hinder me from knowing and loving Him more. In the same way, if I want to grow in my workplace and ministry, I must be willing to go the extra mile and give my best even in the small tasks that I have.

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A Cherry Tomato flower

 

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My first Cherry Tomato

THIRD: Support from Others Help Sustain Growth

I noticed that the main stalk of the Cherry Tomato plant started to bend after five months. When I saw it, I panicked because I didn’t want it to snap! So, I tied a number of sticks to the stalk using some of our straw and thankfully, it stood still. Also, my mom willingly helped me maintain the support system and my brothers also helped me get rid of the weeds that were surrounding the plants.

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I realized that having a support system definitely encourages and sustains growth. Just like the main stalk, sooner or later, we might also ‘bend’ when we experience difficult situations.  But, when we keep ourselves closely accountable and open to others who willingly support and help us, we can actually learn and grow even more.

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My younger brother taking out the weeds.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Special thanks to my parents and siblings, who cheerfully support and encourage me whenever I take care of the plants.

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I already harvested red cherry tomatoes yesterday and I might harvest more tomorrow. Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful experience of growing our own vegetables at home. But more than that, I thank You for constantly encouraging me to grow in my walk with You.

See you soon, Broccoli!! :)

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time.