It’s a Jungle Out There!

I thought this week’s blog post was going to be about sweet peas. Pretty little flowers. Popeye and Olive Oyl’s cute little cartoon baby. The fragrant little plant that makes a great veggie. We have some peas… and I dunno if they are sweet peas or not… but I have them growing in our urban garden. I like them… they grow well and we’ve had some great harvests. I was going to tell you about how I went out to tame them with some clips and string and bamboo skewers and how proud I was of them. But that is not how this muse went.

I went out to discover the garden has become a virtual jungle. The great rains we’ve had in the last few days have turned the place into a labyrinth of green! Okay, I admit it. Perhaps I am not as diligent at weeding as I should be… but these are not just weeds… the actual veggies have exploded! Currently, we have some zucchini plants and some cucumbers which are holding their own and doing their “normal” spread. They are behaving. The peas and beans are now quite ladened down with heavy vines and I am not sure how to separate them. They have no more space to expand to, so they are growing into each other. Even my strawberries are shooting out tendrils!

Yet, my biggest “expander” (and I say this with a little excitement) is our pumpkin vine! The youngest wanted to try it this year, so we simply threw a few seeds in a space near the end of the garden before the sunflower patch. Well… as they say, if you plant it … it just might grow! Our pumpkin has now weaved it’s way through the sunflowers, down the fence and reaching up along the side of the lawn into Neverland! The vines have taken over!

So, I did a little research. Apparently there are two different kinds of “vine” expansions: twining or hold fasts. Vines that use tendrils wrap around their supports using thin, leafless stems… those curly cues you see on grape vines, for example. Other climbers use “sticky” pads or aerial roots to adhere to almost any smooth surface. Like ivy growing on ancient castles. So how do they know to grow up and wrap around something? They don’t. Vines do something called “thigmotropism”. Those little stems grow until they mechanically “hit” something… by wind or whatever… and end up twisting around the structure to hold on. This is why you can “train” vines to climb a trellis. (Obviously my jungle proves we have not done this!) There are some very cool looking slowmo videos of “thigmotropism” out there. Look it up!

Not my peas…but Sweet Pea (lathyrus Odoratus) is a photograph by Maxine Adcock/science Photo Library which was uploaded on February 24th, 2021.

So… what’s our take away from my jungle adventure? You got it… John 15:5 comes to mind. “I am the vine, and you are the branches…” Growth occurs when we are attached to a stable structure. Heaven knows we certainly need something stable in this ever changing world!! Especially when we are facing struggles. Or the unknown. Or simply putting the “feelers” out on a big decision we need to make. Wanna know another cool thing about thigmotropism? The bigger the stimulus the plant receives, the faster the tendril growth and the stronger the coils become! Sound familiar? Yup, often our biggest valleys in life produce the greatest and strongest amount of spiritual growth!

Well… turns out my fragrant and pretty sweet peas were not as encouraging this week as my jungle of pumpkin vines! I guess that is just the way it is sometimes in life. Here’s to “thigmotropism” and to you, my growing friend! Hold fast this week!