Life from a Garden

Eden must be a growing concern in your heart before it will manifest in the earth. Here are a few ideas about God’s promised restoration of the earth and some for that garden in your back yard too.

The children of Israel sent spies into the Promised Land. Some returned with a bad report, “There are giants in that land and we are like grasshoppers in their sight.” Others came rejoicing, bringing a cluster of grapes with them that required two men to carry.

This year some other crops are giving those grapes a run for the money. Unlike last year when the corn shriveled from too little water many lost their gardens from root-rot and flooding. This year some crops like field corn may require chain saws and ladders to harvest. But what a beautiful sight to see!

The almost overwhelming amount of rain this year also brought many of us an overwhelming army of Japanese beetles, powdery mildew, and soils too wet to cultivate. In spite of such enemies, when I get into my garden, I pay little attention to the spaghetti squash that rotted on the vine. Instead, I marvel at the yellow doll watermelons. Even if they are only baseball sized, they refresh like no beverage. The sugar-snap peas have grown tall enough that I barely have to stoop to pluck a bucket of them for the freezer. In February, they will be just as sweet and fresh tasting as the ones I eat raw as I pick.

“Acoutasquash” is the Native American name from which we derived “squash.” It means eat it raw. My trombolini squash is just right for that. It snaps crisply in half and tastes better raw than any cucumber. The mango colored flesh of our Tahitian melon-squash are also wonderful raw and sliced into a salad or eaten as strips with a dipping sauce.

Marinated slices of our Jerusalem artichokes tossed with fresh Tai lemon basil are a delight. Huge bundles of the remaining basil hang in the drying shed waiting to be joined by rosemary, lemon balm, peppermint, oregano, thyme, and licorice hyssop.

The tomatoes did not perform well at all, but because I set out a hundred plants, a minimal attempt was all that was necessary. Before I was a vegetarian I would have quickly smashed the tomato hornworm eating one plant. Now that I have discovered this fat little dinosaur turns into the beautiful and intelligent sphinx moth that look and act like hummingbirds, I’ll move it to another plant if this one runs out of leaves.

Gurney girl tomato, represented by only two plants took all nature could throw at it and continues to fill our salads and sandwiches with awesome flavor. Health kick, which is supposed to have seven times the vitamins of a normal tomato, has been a good producer of larger than roma sized fruits.

Taste is precisely what our purple Italian pole beans offer and they combine it with stringlessness and perfect texture. These long purple beans turn deep green upon cooking. My wife tosses them with a little pressed garlic fresh from the earth and drizzles them with virgin olive oil. They are so great; I’d have them for breakfast. I can hardly wait for our Styrian pumpkins to ripen. Its hulless, protein filled seeds, toasted in the oven make a delicious salad topping or snack. They are filled with all sorts of healthful benefits and are reported to ward off prostate problems. In Europe, their oil is costly and becoming popular as an olive oil replacement.

When I worked in the tropics, I became a connoisseur of tropical yams. They taste a lot like our potatoes, but have more distinctive and subtle nuances of flavor. Growing on vines which tower into the treetops, I never thought of finding varieties that could survive our winters, but I did. Called cinnamon yam, mine did remarkably well and will continue to produce tubers for years to come. Potatoes forever!

A good garden is full of living organisms including bacterium. This week I learned that scientists have discovered a common bacterium that might be able to convert sugar into electricity and another microorganism that could immunize humans against type 2 diabetes and arthritis. I also learned that most wild animals in Africa may become endangered or extinct in the next dozen years because the wild bush-meat business is being accelerated. What if they discovered that cinnamon yams provide much better karma than killing gorillas and leave a better taste in your mouth too? If only all our eyes were enlightened to see that all we need to flourish can be found in a garden.


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