A few years ago we decided to plant a vegetable garden.
Ahhh, what a taste treat! What a deeee-licious Deee-light. Tomatoes that are Juicy and Sweet and Have Real Flavor. (The use of capital letters is to indicate the superlative nature of home grown tomatoes ascending and transcending over store-bought-dry-tasteless-colorless-hockey-puck “tomatoes.”) Peppers that pop and crunch with bursts of flavor. Lettuce so delicate, beans so yummy, and onions that drip when you cut them and bring tears to your eyes. (Really! I mean it. Tears!)
Ohhh, yes. There is nothing like a garden to humble a person and reveal all of his weaknesses and vices. Procrastination that can justify itself into endless extra days of watching NCIS. Laziness to overlook the most desperate daily call. Lack of discipline that bubbles out of the crucible of the heart. Masterful self deception as the cries of “We’ll do it tomorrow” become an Olympic chant. So in addition to the wonderful taste sensation we have learned an important life lesson: We are lazy, undisciplined, procrastinators who prefer chips and cheese to vegetables.
And the garden… merrily grows on.
Any gardener will tell you that tomato plants will spend their energy in one of two ways; 1) Make tomatoes, or 2) sprout more and more and more branches. A disciplined gardener (someone I would like to meet) pinches off all of the extra, endless and innumerable branches (called suckers, by the way… …the branches, not the gardener). When that is done properly, the plants put more effort into growing tomatoes. Ummm… well, Our tomato plants are now providing shade to the roof of our house as they pass the 9 foot mark. Lots of branches, LOTS of suckers… and this time, I might be talking about the gardeners
We dug up a nice sized plot behind our house and poured in about six tons of really nice topsoil, manure, sterilized pH balanced, clay-breaker, vermiculite to open up the clay-ey dirt, peat moss (Sphagum – why do they always add that?), manure and more manure. When you dig down in our garden, you have about two feet of dark, rich, keep-the-worms-very-happy soil.
Weeds love it.
And this is the funny part. I think that someone out there is having a great laugh at our expense. When you get seeds or plants, there are always recomendations for planting. “Plant tomato plants 30 inches apart in rows separated by 36 inches.” What they fail to tell you is that when you follow this pattern, that gives 7.5 square feet of unused space around each tomato plant, or just enough for six thousand, eight hundred and forty seven weeds per tomato plant. And weeds are perfect for our garden, because they don’t require any care whatsoever – they grow at “go-speed-racer-go” speeds hypercharged by pH balanced, clay-breaker, manure rich dirt.
But here is the odd thing.
Despite our irresponsibilty and laziness, Our garden produces a lot of vegetables. We had so much squash that stir fry every night couldn’t use it up. (We would have made zucchini bread, but we don’t have an oven – a story for another day.) Last weekend I spent about 8 straight hours cutting up little bell peppers and jalapenos to freeze them (See the picture at the top.) We have only started with the onions, but I know there are about 50 of them out there. The weeds in our garden? Endless tomato plants (from last year’s debris) and rich beautiful grass. Weird.
Life started in a garden and our garden is an eye-opening metaphor of life and blessing. God’s love and provision doesn’t depend on our abilty to be perfect, or really, be even close to perfect. Despite our weakness, God provides. Through weeds and neglect, God is constant and gives us bountifully from his riches.