Prepare the Ground

by Oletta Branstiter

It’s like Christmas for gardeners.

The seed catalogs began arriving in February! We can’t wait to get our hands dirty again. We’ve been pacing our gardens since the last harvest in late summer, covering our plots with cardboard, paper bags, leaves, grass clippings- anything and everything to minimize weed growth. I was most worried about the proliferation of dollar weed flourishing under a generous layer of leaves I swept up from my neighbor’s pin oak that stretches its limbs far into my backyard.

I had mixed results from my garden last year, with an interesting harvest of hybrid squash discovered by most north Texas gardeners. Some of us suspect drunken bees, intoxicated by the resurgence of backyard garden pollen buffets. As a result of reaping this Frankenstein fruit, my heirloom collection has suffered, and my packaged seeds have been depleted, so I poured through Gurney’s and Burpee’s and Fields’ catalogs like I used to drool over the Sears catalog before Christmas as a child.

In my mind and heart and soul, I know any gardening success is not as much about the seeds as it is about the soil.

After lusting over the seed catalogs, I ended up purchasing my seeds from Ace Hardware and sowing during Spring Break. I’m very happy with the results! Green beans, beets, onions, several varieties of squash and melon, lettuce and spinach started flourishing two weeks after planting! Potatoes and garlic are coming up fast and strong as well. Five years of composting my garden soil by tilling the spent foliage back into the ground have paid off, big time! Adding fertilizer and Epsom salt immediately after planting doesn’t hurt, either.

The Parable of the Sower, in the Bible, is a brilliant lesson describing the results obtained when one “plants” the Word in various environments. Gardeners are well acquainted with this process. We know that one can hold the most precious seeds available (the Gospel!) and sow them in the correct depth and take care to water and feed them, but if the soil has not been prepared and preserved, all the effort is in vain.

So it is with our nation. (And you thought this was a gardening blog post!)

I’m reading a myriad of social media status updates declaring an exodus from the Republican Party, promoting an energized Constitution Party or renewed Federalist Party, while one rebel broke away from the pack to resurrect that old cigarette commercial slogan: “I’d rather fight than switch!”. The consensus among many Conservatives is that the Republican Party has left us.

We’ve spent too much time and effort in choosing the “perfect” representatives to restore our founding principles, like shopping for the perfect seeds for sowing in anticipation of a good harvest, instead of preparing, preserving, and protecting the groundwork.

We can keep throwing good seeds onto the neglected and diseased ground, wishing for our Constitutional Republic to miraculously sprout anew, or we can get down to the business of reconditioning the soil upon which our foundation was built.

What does that look like? What kind of gloves do we need? Let us first identify the ground we need to recondition. As in every cultural revolution, the fertile field is our youth. The majority of the students I know believe that the United States is a Democracy because that’s what their parents have told them. I invited one student to go home and help his mom find the word “democracy” in our Constitution and get back to me. I’m still waiting.

But there is a handful of students who yearn for a true revolution that will restore our Republic. Less than a year ago, as I was wrapping up my Our Nation’s Foundations lessons in the school Library, preparing to show clips from Dinesh D’Souza’s America – Imagine The World Without Her, one of my most politically astute 6th graders whined, “You aren’t going to show Ted Cruz dropping out of the Presidential race, are you? Because I cried when I saw it and I don’t want to cry again!” This young man had been supporting a candidate whose platform was built firmly on Constitutional principles. He knew what his generation had lost and his spirit was crushed.

There is fertile ground. It doesn’t have to be large. It just has to be committed. Some children have parents who are dedicated to the oath as patriotic Americans: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic”, or are being raised by well-intended citizens who mistakenly define our government as a Democracy, or whose priorities for representation value their pocket book over founding principles.

Perhaps Conservatives should consider becoming Conservationists instead. Let’s worry less about the direction of growth in our government and dedicate ourselves more diligently to the condition of the groundwork.

Instead of raging against the Machine with our posts and tweets directed toward fellow citizens and elected representatives, let’s get our hands dirty by preparing the next generation of the electorate.

For young children in your life, purchase or borrow the new Tuttle Twins book series. For older elementary and middle school children, invest in Rush Limbaugh’s fine American History series, Rush Revere – Time Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans. Read these to your children and grandchildren. Donate them to local school libraries. Disseminate resources like and Ben’s Guide. Recreate my Constituting America’s award-winning lessons on a home or church wall. Show Dinesh D’Souza’s historical movies during gatherings with friends and family.

It’s time for gardeners and patriots to prepare the soil.

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