My garden won’t save the world…

My latest column in the Christian Courier.

My front-yard garden measures 12 feet by 11 feet and so represents a modest effort in terms of urban agriculture. It certainly doesn’t compete with the larger plots tended by some Portuguese seniors in west end Montreal, or with the wide-open community gardens that flourish here. But its postage-stamp size doesn’t tell the whole story of my veggie patch either. Year over year my acreage (dreaming big, here) teaches me much more than many other areas of life—it is the source of innumerable successes, failures, and opportunities to learn.

This year I decided to plant kohlrabi for the first time, which one website describes as “a unique, easy-to-grow veggie.” Easy for them to say! I don’t know whether to blame the less-than-consistent rainfall of this past summer or my less than strategic enriching of the soil, but the resulting, stumpy little kohlrabi stems were rather disappointing. In my defense I should say that I didn’t have a lot of time to invest in the garden this year. And the decision to leave town for four weeks of holidays wasn’t exactly conducive to its flourishing.

IMG_1472Most of the carrot seeds I planted in early June simply didn’t germinate, though the few seeds that did spring up produced twenty lovely carrots. Twenty! (You can interpret that exclamation mark as either frustration or delight!) They were typically odd-sized and wonderfully misshapen. Also, at some point during the season I simply forgot I had planted onion seedlings in the back corner, and only discovered them when pulling out overgrown crabgrass and other weeds a few weeks ago. And there they were, 10 of them pulled up and held in one hand, as remarkable and beautiful as anything on God’s green earth. Continue reading


Of Easter, skunks, and tomatoes #metaphorfailure

I almost didn’t get to Easter Morning Prayer, which I happened to be leading. I stepped out the front door of my house at 6:15 a.m., only to take a very quick step backward. For there on the driveway (between me and my bike), rummaging through a messy smear of garbage, was a skunk. This, of course, was not your lovely Disney-skunk named Flower – this was a waddling, foraging fellow from whom I wanted to keep my distance.

It didn’t take much to scare him off – a bit of banging and shouting and he went scampering behind the neighbour’s house. But this was not the auspicious start to Easter morning that I had been hoping for. I was reminded of John Visser’s recent assertion (I wholeheartedly agree) that natural metaphors simply can’t capture the truth of resurrection. The skunk proves it!

IMG_1691On the other hand, I was confronted this past weekend with a more hopeful natural metaphor – by way of my Tomato seeds. Our CSA farmer (community supported agriculture) has the most delicious variety of cherry tomatoes. So in the Fall I decided to take seeds from a few tomatoes, dry them, and plant them this spring – which I did almost two weeks ago. But after almost two weeks, there was no sign of growth. I even dug out one of the seeds to see if there was any action. Nothing! So I stopped watering. Continue reading