Making Disciples in All of Life

Making Disciples in All of Life

** Editors Note: This article was originally written for the BUV Blog**

The night was warm enough to be outside and cool enough to keep the fire stoked in the fire pit. As we sat around the fire, licking the last of the pavlova off our fingers, listening to the laughs and chatter of our kids as they slowly moved into the house to play indoors, we settled down to ponder the question I had just asked our group.

“We need to consider how we can eat with and bless those in our neighbourhood that don’t know Christ, but we need to consider how we are going to do this together as a community. Mission was never meant to be done alone.”

We remembered the words of Jesus in John 13:34By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

“If discipleship is following Jesus in everyday life and teaching others to do the same,” I said, borrowing from Jeff Vanderstelt, “then it goes without saying that we need to be actively involved in one another’s day to day lives in order to make disciples in everyday life.”

We were quiet as we sat around the fire. It could have been that we had a mouth full of hot chocolate but it was more likely that we were all in deep thought about the challenge we had just put before ourselves. Continue reading “Making Disciples in All of Life”

Slow Theology: Gardening, Faith & Justice

Slow Theology: Gardening, Faith & Justice

Growing our own food enables us to teach our kids the important theological lesson of slowing down. And it enables me to remind myself of this spiritual discipline which I seem to be forever forgetting.

I recently posted some reflection on Slow Church and “coffee theology”, the idea that beauty, rather than efficiency, is more of a kingdom value. And this is something that I really want to teach my girls as they grow up. In a world which values efficiency, fast everything and instant gratification, the 12-14 weeks to wait and watch our food grow are a gift. In the garden we teach our kids the importance of planning ahead, the truth about the variability of life and the seasons, the virtue of patience and slowing down… that beauty (and food) takes time. And this has lasting effects on the way we view the world and interact with it.

I think by slowing down in the garden we are able to engage more fully in issues of justice. By slowing down our food production we begin to engage more fully and even rectify some of the things that are broken in our food system. Unfortunately, the global food system is one of convenience, productivity and profit over worker’s rights and environmental impact.

Continue reading “Slow Theology: Gardening, Faith & Justice”

Slow Theology: Coffee Theology & Slow Church

Slow Theology: Coffee Theology & Slow Church

My wife, Katie, and I were enjoying a coffee yesterday afternoon and talking about the difference between making an espresso and using a “pod machine”. Katie commented on how quickly the popularity of pod machines had grown but both of us were concerned by the amount of waste they produce.

If you are unfamiliar with “pod machines” each “pod” contains a serve of coffee (and perhaps even milk powder to make an instant latte or cappuccino). All you do is put the pod into the machine and press start. But each pod, a small plastic cup, is then thrown away.

Katie and I then mused for a while about the “theology of coffee machines”. It seems that many people are willing to compromise on taste and quality for convenience. Continue reading “Slow Theology: Coffee Theology & Slow Church”

Planting: Top 5 Tips for planting Beans

Planting: Top 5 Tips for planting Beans

Beans are really one of my go to crops each year! They are the kind of crop that very rarely fails and even the kids derive plenty of pleasure from snacking on raw beans and picking bucket loads on a hot summer evening.

Beans are great for the soil too. Legumes fix nitrogen back into the soil which is great after ripping out nitrogen hungry plants like potatoes, brassicas and leafy greens.

Here are my 5 Top Tips for growing beans: 

PLANTING YOUR BEANS – Beans are really easy to grow. Make small runs about 25mm deep and drop a seed about every 10cm (I plant 2×1.5m rows). Backfill with a light covering (about 25mm) and press down for good seed contact before watering. Unless it’s really hot and dry you won’t need to water again until shoots appear.

SUCCESSION PLANTINGS – I plant 3 succession crops, once every month, after the initial planting. Some people plant every 2 weeks but I find this gives me too many beans to handle!

DON’T OVER FEED WITH NITROGEN – since beans already fix nitrogen you won’t need to feed them with it. In fact, too much nitrogen may too give you many leaves and not enough beans.

PICK BEANS YOUNG & REGULARLY – Young beans taste better than old woody ones and regular visits to the garden will prolong the harvest.

PINCH BEANS OFF – This is hard when kids are harvesting, but always try to pinch beans off the plants with your thumb and fore finger. Pulling beans can damage the plant, break off entire limbs or even pull plants out of the ground!

Happy gardening!

Planting: Top 5 Tips for Tomatoes

Planting: Top 5 Tips for Tomatoes
There are is lots of debate about how to best grow tomatoes (and I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below) but here are my TOP 5 TIPS for fantastic tomatoes.

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1. DRIP WATER – Tomatoes don’t like overhead watering so run drippers or “leaky hose” to water them below the foliage and avoid “early blight”

2. COMPOST SOIL – Tomatoes need some good quality compost in their soil and even a small amount just below the roots at planting so they grow into it and get a boost later on in the season

3. TRELLIS OR STAKE – To keep plants from breaking or falling over and getting wet foliage, tie the plants to a stake or trellis as they grow

4. PINCH OUT SIDE SHOOTS – Some people prune their tomatoes, others don’t. I prune them by cutting off lower branches and pinching out side shoots. This allows more air around the plants to lessen the chance of disease and helps to grow less but better quality fruit!

5. SPACE IS KEY – Don’t crowd out your plants but give them plenty of space, 75-100cm between each plant! This will help them breathe and lessen the chance of diseases that like a warm humid environment.

Editors note: This article was first published on the Donald Veggie Patch. Republished with permission.

Peas: Harvesting, Cooking & Eating

Peas: Harvesting, Cooking & Eating

It’s spring and spring means peas! Lots of peas! I planted two crops of “Telephone Peas” but nearly half if them turned out to be snow peas! Luckily I planted as many as I did because we’re still getting plenty!  

  
The peas are grown on a trellis made with wire mesh and tomato stakes. This gives them support with the option of tying more mesh, fencing wire or string between the stakes to keep the trellis going higher. One of the pea crops has grown well over 7ft high but unfortunately recent winds have bought it back down below 6ft.

We harvest peas as we need them, trying to be careful not to let them grow too fat and woody but also trying not to store too many in the fridge. Today, however, the recent warm weather has bought on a flourish of peas and we managed to harvest 2.2kg in one go!   

  
Our kids love eating peas raw and just picking them off the bush while playing in the backyard. But, typically we simply blanche them quickly in the hot water or add them raw into a salad. But one of the nicest ways we have eaten our peas is in fresh summer pasta. 

Making a lovely white sauce we simply toss the pasta with a few fesh peas and some bits of crispy bacon and some torn up mint leaves. The heat from the pasta and sauce cooks the peas just enough while serving! Beautiful! 

But I still reckon my girls are right… straight off the bush is best!   

Backyard Chickens: Candling Eggs

Backyard Chickens: Candling Eggs

So you’ve got chooks and a rooster and you want some chicks. But how do you know if the rooster is doing his job? 

The way to check eggs to see if they are fertile is called “candling”. Candling involves putting a bright light behind the eggs to see what is inside. It’s really easy to do and great to see if you’ve got chicks. 

 
There are some particular detailed signs to look for at all stages of growth inside the egg, but at the later stages of development it is very easy. It is as simple as looking for a part inside the egg where light does not pass through. A growing fetus will be opaque while the reminder of the egg white and yolk will be translucent. 

      

The image above is around 10-12 days since fertilisation. A egg will normally take around 18 days to hatch.