Patrick Morris, an ordained pastor, says he is connected to the soil.
Written by Reading Eagle
I am 64 years old and live with my wife of 43 years, Sharon, in Lower Alsace Township. I am an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, serving St. Paul’s UCC, Fleetwood.
Why gardening is important: For me gardening is an extension of my spirit. It is in my garden that I remain connected to the soil. It is where I contemplate and regenerate for the work that I do as a pastor.
How his garden reflects his personality: Prior to becoming a pastor, I was a farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. My wife and I had a dairy, raised turkeys and sheep and farmed about 400 acres. My garden is my way of continuing a way of living that was dear to me prior to going into the ministry.
Greatest garden success: We moved to our current home following a brief time in a subdivision. Sharon and I were not satisfied on such a small space so we found our 2 acres and built a home. Surrounded by a abundance of deer, foxes, turkeys and an assortment of other wildlife, I established my raised-bed garden complete with a 7-feet tall fence to keep the deer out and chicken wire on the bottom to stop groundhogs and other critters.
Worst garden mistake: I’m not sure. I never see anything as a mistake. Instead I chalk it up as a learning experience. Raised-bed gardening was new to me four years ago. Everything I did four years ago had the potential of being a mistake. But I learned each new season since them, what works, what doesn’t and what I need to do differently.
Favorite plant and season: I will have to say my tomatoes. I try to get them in on or before May 10. I love pruning and guiding their ascent up the wire panel that supports them. The process makes for great sermon illustrations! Cucumbers are a very close second. The cucumber has to be the smartest plant God ever created. I love to watch it weave its way up my fence snaking its way in and out of the staves in the fence.
Favorite gardening book or resource: I never read a book about gardening, per say. I learned to garden when I was a child, growing up in a family of eight children. Gardening was a way of life. So I learned by doing. When planning my raised beds I surfed the internet and studied designs, placement and materials best for construction.
Best advice: Having the ability to control the moisture is huge in raised-bed gardening, and knowing what plants need water and when. In 2018 my garden was a disaster because of all the rain. But not this year. I learned which beds drained the best and planted my 2019 garden accordingly.
By the way: I should add that I have incorporated chickens and ducks into my garden space. Each has access to my garden and will be allowed to glean when the season has ended, fertilizing my beds as they go for the new season. I also use composted chicken, duck and horse manure with grass clippings as compost.
Growing Well appears Mondays and features insights and advice from local gardeners. If you are interested in contributing to this column, contact us at [email protected]
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