Garlic Mustard
Photo by Simone VomFeld on Pixabay

Gardeners may not realize it, but they’re a bit like soldiers in wartime. Their enemies aren’t people, of course, but an even more insidious foe:


Weeds infiltrate our gardens like enemy invaders: dandelions, nettles, thistles, couch grass and garlic mustard, to name a few. They may seem innocent enough when there are only a few of them, but make no mistake: their ultimate aim is to take over and occupy your territory.

One vanguard weed may sneak in and settle, and you think nothing of it. If you’re not vigilant, though, that lone plant will soon multiply into an overwhelming host.

Or you pull up a dandelion and think that’s the end of it, but unless you’ve been very thorough, part of the taproot remains deep in the soil. The weed will come up again long after you thought you’ve eradicated it.

The seeds of weeds may stay in the soil of your garden and remain viable for years. They lie in wait like sleeper agents, waiting patiently for the right opportunity to spring up and attack.

The mission of weeds is simple but deadly: to compete with other plants for light, water and nutrients and crowd them out so they die. They’re dastardly adversaries, often needing less sunlight and water than other plants to survive.

And the worst part of it is that they’re very hard to kill.

Weeds are sort of like sin, aren’t they?

We might allow a few ungodly compromises in our lives and think we’ve escaped any consequences. But complacency has a way of begetting more mistakes. Before we know it, our lives are a tangled mess of problems that we can’t extricate ourselves from.

We may resolve to dig out the sin in our lives, but if we don’t truly recognize the seriousness of our disobedience, we might go about it in a half-hearted way. The root of the sin might remain deep inside us, and can spring up again long after we thought we’d dealt with the problem.

If we’re truly lax in addressing the sin in our lives, it can spread and choke out the good that we try to do. Sin can dominate our actions and completely take over until our lives are conquered territory under enemy control.

A particularly potent weed is garlic mustard. Its roots leach a poison into the soil, which kills the beneficial microbes that keep the other plants healthy. This poison is very hard to get rid of: it can continue to negatively affect the growth of trees in the area for years, even long after the garlic mustard plants themselves have been eradicated. Much like the way in which sin’s after-effects can linger and continue to poison our lives if we don’t fully root it out the first time.

But what can we do about garlic mustard in our gardens? Are we completely at its mercy? No! The good news is that there’s an antidote to this insidious weed: wild ginger.

Wild ginger, a ground cover, is a very effective weed inhibitor. It elbows out invaders like garlic mustard by forming a solid mat of roots at the soil’s surface. Once established, a patch of wild ginger is essentially impervious to invasion by weeds like our enemy the garlic mustard.

In the same way, we’re not at the mercy of sin: there are things we can do to elbow it out of our lives. We can stay in close daily fellowship with God, be accountable to godly mentors in our lives, steep ourselves in Scripture, and be obedient to God’s Word: all these things form a dense network, making it harder for our enemy to infiltrate our lives.

Photo by Pxhere, Public Domain

Most importantly, we should quickly ask forgiveness of God at the first hint of sin in our lives. As believers we have the privilege of benefitting from Christ’s work on the Cross: He triumphed over sin and the grave so that we can, too.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

In this lifetime, we will never be fully free from sin, just as a garden will never be completely free from weeds. But with God’s help we can make it very hard for sin to take root in our lives. Our enemy’s aim is to infiltrate and destroy, but just as garlic mustard can’t compete with wild ginger, Satan is no match for Jesus!

I can’t think of a yummier reminder of this lesson than these soft double-ginger cookies! Enjoy!

Soft Gingersnap Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped candied ginger
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup mild/light molasses
Granulated sugar for rolling

In a bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients. Stir in the candied ginger.

With an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until blended.

Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just blended. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease one or two cookie sheets (or line with silicone baking mats).

Remove the cookie dough from the fridge. Pour some sugar into a small bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into 1-inch balls; place each ball in the bowl and roll it around until coated with sugar. Place balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet(s).

Bake cookies about 12 minutes: they will crack slightly on the tops but will still be soft. Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet until transferring to racks to cool completely.

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “A Gardener’s Worst Enemy

  1. Jerry Bridges’ book “Respectable Sins is excellent. There are so many sins we don’t even recognize; Romans Chapter one lists a few. Like your wonderful garden weed metaphor – we must never stop pulling our weeds.


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