Unconventional. That’s a nice way of describing my garden.
What I mean is, the vegetables don’t grow in the standard long rows, with bare dirt surrounding them. More often than not, vegetables share space with ornamentals, and the ground that isn’t mulched is usually covered with other plants as a natural ground cover.
Peppers are a great example of this technique, since these plants prefer what gardeners call “cold feet.” It is important especially in the Southern garden not to allow the ground to heat up too much around the roots of these plants after the initial spring growth.
One way to ensure against the stress of overheated pepper roots is to combine them with a companion planting of some shorter vegetation. This will shade the roots and the base of the pepper plants. I like to use parsley for this purpose, or marigolds.
By the time the peppers are done bearing fruit, the marigolds will provide fall color in the otherwise barren garden. The parsley will be good even after light frosts have nipped it, and often will produce enough new leaves over the winter for winter garnishes.
It’s nice to have a succession of plants providing food or beauty at different parts of the year, and it helps the peppers avoid stress in the hottest season. The pepper harvest can be extended several weeks with this type of careful planning.
It’s okay for peppers to develop cold feet after they get established!
It can be devastating, though, when Christians get cold feet. We get started with our commitment to Christ, much as a wedding date is set by a couple in love. In fact, the church is the “Bride of Christ” (Luke 5:34, 35; Ephesians 5:25-27.)
After time, the allure of other things brings our focus away from Jesus, just as my companion plantings draw the sun’s heat away from the pepper’s roots. We get “cold feet” as we realize the magnitude of the commitment we have made, and what it really means.
What bride or groom has not experienced a moment or two of panic as the day draws near that will dramatically change their lives forever? Is it any wonder that someone who is about to make a commitment to God experiences some second thoughts, and considers backing out? The same goes for new Christians, or even newly committed Christians.
Our adversary, the devil, is all too adept at providing other attractions to command our attention. Before we know it, our feet get cold; and we don’t follow through with what we had planned to do. Whether the commitment is to be baptized to become a Christian, or a far-reaching plan that will help spread the Gospel, we must not allow cold feet to prevent us from pressing on.
We are not pepper plants. Let’s warm up our fervor and commitment to God’s eternal purpose!
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB).