(image via Pixabay)
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
No, no, that can’t be right. I don’t even know what a tare is. I’ve been growing food for years now, and I’ve never once seen a tare. I know what grass is, though. Grass looks awful in gardens. When the grass gets tall in your garden, your neighbors start to look askance at you. Never mind that the tall grass is in the backyard; if you’ve got tall grass they can see from their property, it becomes their business. If I’d had servants, I know that they would look askance too. They would come to me, trying to look respectful with eyes downcast, secretly judging. “Mistress, did you not sow good seed in your field?”
And I would smile, because I like being addressed as “Mistress,” but I’d also smile with amusement because I knew they were secretly judging. And I would say, “I did sow good seed. It was organic heirloom seed, in point of fact, and heirloom seedlings too. Some of them I got from my organic farmer friend, and some of them I got from DiGregory’s Nursery, the best nursery in town. They were excellent seeds. Look, the zucchini lasted over a month, the tomatoes are creeping up out of their cages, the corn’s shoulder-high, we’ve got it made. Stop worrying.”
And I would explain, “It’s because I’m lazy.”
That’s not strictly true. I am lazy, but I’m also poor and can’t afford all the straw and mulch and clippings I would need to mulch thoroughly, especially when there are potatoes to be grown. A small amount of straw is never enough, for potatoes. You always need more, so the rest of the garden only gets a thin layer. And then there’s the fact that my autoimmune illness makes me sick for the whole month of July and some of August. so I’m stuck inside for most of the month and good luck getting any mulching done then. Between poverty and illness, I can’t mulch the soil, and I can’t pull the weeds consistently. Things get out of hand quickly.
If I had servants, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Sadly, I don’t have any servants. I have a daughter who is not yet five years old, and my daughter has a friend who comes over to play and likes to eat my snap peas, so I put them to work with me during the Spring planting. I planted a patch of bush beans in three colors– ghostly yellow wax beans, velvety scarlet runner beans and reliable blue lake green beans. Rose, her friend and I spent a good long time drilling holes every two inches with our fingers, dropping in a bean, covering it and repeating again and again until we were caked in mud. Then I let both of them jump in the rain barrel with their clothes on, and then I emptied the rain barrel onto my head; it was a hot afternoon. I mulched the ground in a thin layer.
I waited. The rains came on schedule. The other plants thrived in downpour, though Rose and I had to go back and forth several times dumping diatomaceous earth on the slugs who came up in the rain to eat my lettuce. The zucchini encroached as zucchini always does; the corn popped up and towered; the broccoli broccolated. But the beans didn’t come. I got two or three tiny sprouts, which disappeared in the night.
It took a lot of squinting at the ground before I found the reason why. I found a slug in the barren bean patch, trying to look innocent and as though it was on its way to the lettuce. I asked my farmer friend if slugs like beans.
“Oh yes,” she said. “Slugs like bush beans. The whores.”