This year is our first sabbatical year and we are excited to share our first report. It is almost the end of the first month and we have been bountifully blessed. This purpose of this post is to boast in YHVH.
YHVH is in control of everything, He controls the weather, He gives rain in its season and He makes the plants grow. We believe YHVH has led us to keep the Sabbatical year of 2016 and we are doing it out of love for Him. This here is a report to show you what He is doing. May this inspire you to keep the next one if you are not keeping this one.
We have ceased all plant based food producing activities, we didn’t sow, won’t prune and are not going to harvest. We will let grow what comes up by itself and pick what we need daily. We are not doing this on a great scale, for we are still learning about vegetable gardening, but we have been amazed at how YHVH is providing for us.
Our first month – springtime
Last year, in preparation for the sabbatical year, we allowed many plants to go to seed. We have also made sure to use only heirloom seeds, as hybrid volunteer plants are unpredictable. Radishes and lambs lettuce were the first volunteers to appear even before the winter. They are now thriving. Rocket salad also came up in abundance before the winter. So, by the time we started the sabbatical year, we already had fresh green salad leaves ready for picking.
Most of the Swiss chard we planted last year and a few spinach plants survived the winter (which is unusual in this cold climate)and are continuing to produce fresh green leaves ready for picking. We tried a few varieties of forgotten vegetables like red mountain spinach and Jerusalem artichoke, which are re-appearing after the winter. Some onions came up that must have been left in the soil and the leeks we left are continuing to grow. Did you know you can cut the leek top off for use and leave the roots in the soil and it will regrow? We did that last year and it is working well. The asparagus are keeping us on our toes as they can grow a few centimeters per day in hot weather. We mainly have the green variety, which we use in salads. We have been able to pick enough greens for a big salad every day since the start of the sabbatical year.
We also planted some perennial rocket, Russian cabbage and another kind of cabbage – if I were to translate it directly, it would be called eternal cabbage. It is related to collard greens. It is an open leave variety which is a perennial, this is also a forgotten vegetable. The kale was left through the winter and it is now flowering. We will leave it to re-seed.
The herb garden surprised me most. Everything just re-appeared after the winter. Chives, Leaf celery, sage, hyssop, horseradish, Wild Angelica, and fennel to name a few. Even some thyme survived the winter and the oregano is growing wild. When I walk through the vegetable and herb garden, I see how awesome YHVH is providing for us.
The berries are all flowering, some have formed berries already and the fruit trees are blossoming. We have had a few cold spells in April and are hoping that the fruit has not been damaged. We even had some snow, now we wait. Only time will tell.
We also have been blessed with many edible weeds, we prefer to call it wild herbs like Elder greens (also called roman spinach), dandelions and yarrow. You can use all of these in salads. I am naming just a few, there are plenty of edible plants growing in the wild. One advantage of wild herbs is that they can draw nutrients from deep down in places where other plans won’t even survive. These nutrients become available to us when we eat these plants. Some even have medicinal qualities. Did you know dandelion is a natural liver tonic?
Be careful when you forage for wild herbs, though some weeds are poisonous. Make sure you can identify the plants with confidence. Best is to learn from somebody who knows the plants well. It can be difficult to identify the plants from pictures in a book. If you are unsure, rather don’t.
The year forward
We are looking forward to learning a lot and we are prepared to be amazed even more.
One of my greatest concerns regarding the sabbatical year was that we would not be getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables. Well, I think we are eating more greens than we normally do, so YHVH has taken care of that concern. Our fruit at this stage consists of dried fruits and some frozen berries, bananas and lemons. Except for the salads we eat daily, we eat dried and frozen veggies. Food preparation has become so easy. Everything is already peeled and pre-prepared. What a blessing this year has become.
It took a lot of preparation before the time. Every time I prepared vegetables, I peeled double the amount I needed, and blanched half to freeze. It really is so easy now. After the sabbatical year I will resume the pre-preparation of food for freezing to make dinner preparation less time consuming. We have also learned heaps about fermentation in the past year. Fermented vegetables are a great way to preserve vegetables and it is very well digested by the body, not to mention all the good bacteria that are replenished to your digestive tract every time you consume it.
All in all, the preparation for the sabbatical year has taught us lots and we are reaping the benefits now in both health and time saving. Most importantly, we see how YHVH provides for us while our land is resting.
You can read about why the land must lie fallow and about the benefit of not pruning trees occasionally in the articles The Sabbatical year, why the land must lie fallow and Are fruit trees excluded from the Sabbatical year command?