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By Laurel Pattenden

Most of my time since I last wrote my February column on composting has been spent waiting. Not writing but waiting. Waiting for some glorious, rich, organic compost ready to be mixed into the soil of the vegetable gardens.

As previously mentioned in the February column, winter composting is a very slow, if not an impossible, process. Personally, I side with the impossible opinion. Waiting and watching only proved that one can store leaves and vegetable scraps for several winter months without any amount of decay. I began to believe I could not make rot.

This belief was short lived, as in March I was able to over-water the delicate tomato seedlings, producing rot that appeared rapidly and mercilessly.

Now, not all was lost because these unfortunate, rotted tomato seedlings are great to add to the previous “un-compost” heap that is now doing its spring thing.

Whether you grow vegetables on your patio in pots, have a garden by your back fence or you visit the local farmer’s market we enjoy this bounty all summer.

Every week in the summer has a star vegetable. Asparagus in early spring, some leaf lettuce in June, perhaps shelling peas in July, tasting sweet corn in August, Brussel sprouts and cabbage following.

It is nice to smell the soil and to use our hands to work the earth. It gives a sense of place to our day. A reason to tend the earth. The chance to see tiny seeds turn into healthy nourishment. Hope and anticipation sprout alongside the first sighting of tiny leaves breaking ground. An opportunity to view tiny miracle after tiny miracle all summer long.

It makes me wonder why so many of us struggle to eat our daily amount of these tiny miracles, vegetables. We hide carrots in our muffins. Zucchini in our bread. Purchase pasta with added powdered spinach. Salads are only complete with gobs of dressing, bacon bits, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and so on. Manufacturers sneak small amounts into baby crackers and applesauces. We use the Mary Poppins method of “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”. Even our green smoothies have a handful of berries to ease the taste of hidden goodness. Perhaps you have an answer for this?

There is not much mention of vegetables in the Bible. Lots of gardens, lots of fruit, lots of grains, lots of meat but very few mentions of vegetables.

However, Daniel was able to fast for ten days on only vegetables and water. (Daniel 1:12-15) Afterwards, he appeared in better health than those on the royal diet. Obviously, food for thought here!

Proverbs 15:17 also has applicable words to ponder over. “It is better to eat vegetables with those who love you than to eat meat with those who hate you.”

Fresh vegetables are also a great way to share the abundance of the season. If you have a vegetable garden plant a few extra seeds for the food bank. If you have four patio pots, then add a fifth pot for the neighbour living on a lower income. If you visit the farmer’s market purchase another bag of those tasty, tiny, new potatoes and invite a friend over to share.

Remember, as it is written in Proverbs, it is best to eat vegetables with others with love.

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.

Illustration: Laurel Pattenden, TOMATOES (detail)