Friday, June 7, 2019

The Season of Growth

It's summer now, and the garden is in full swing.  Every season, my garden is different.

Some years, there are strawberries, so many that I run out of jam jars to fill with them.  Other years, the squirrels and chipmunks and voles have gotten to 'em first. 

Some years, the green beans spring like a riot from the earth, and I'm sharing bags of beans with family and neighbors and random passers-by.  And other years, the same beans seem a little tired, loafing out of the identically enriched soil, yielding a couple of fresh picked dinner side dishes but little more.

It's part of the delight of a garden that it is every year new and unanticipated.  That newness comes because it is...assuming we're not "gardening" on an industrial organic thing, a living thing, one that we can encourage and nurture but that isn't utterly under our control.

And it also comes because we, as we water and weed and plant and weed some more, can always try new things in our soil.  Every plant is different, with different life cycles and needs. For me, this season, there were carrots, which I'd never tried before, but which have worked wonderfully in the loose, rich soil from my compost pile.  I'd not realized, before I researched carrots on the Virginia Tech agriculture school page, that carrots were biennials, and that the sweet, starchy root is simply the fuel for the flowers that grow in year two.

There was kale, which I have loved since I was a child.  OK, sure, I was a weird kid, but I loved it, just like I loved spinach and collard greens.  Must have been my southern heritage.  The kale I planted last Fall gave us sweet, nutty greens through the winter, and is now a menacing riot of edible, tasty seed-pods, which I'm planning on using for the planting this Fall.  The kale I planted in the spring did great...and attracted scores of lovely white butterflies.  Oh, what lovely white butterflies, I thought.

But while summer's pretty fluttering butterflies don't eat kale, their eggs hatch into caterpillars.  And caterpillars love kale nearly as much as I do.  Which I will remember for my greens, the next time summer arrives.

In this gardening time, we are reminded that every new season of life brings with it opportunity for untasted flavors and learning.  And with every new thing, there come challenges, things that nibble and bore and wilt.  That's no reason not to rejoice in the new things that God is always working...just a reason to keep aware, and to adapt, and to delight in both the challenge and the discovery.