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I spent most of this past Saturday morning digging sweet potatoes at the Covenant Community Garden in Fuquay-Varina. We raise organic crops in a nice plot behind Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church. Gardeners share some of the harvest and the garden donates any leftover produce (often lots of it) to a local food bank.

Growing in a rich mix of compost, many of the sweet potatoes, both burgundy Beauregards and orange Jewels, were huge: I pulled one from the ground that had to have been 18 inches long and four inches or more in diameter; another was more than three feet long and ranged from an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter. They’ll be a challenge for someone to cook, but delicious, I’m sure.

Then there’s my own attempt at growing sweet potatoes. I had good success with squash and bell peppers this year, but while the picture above reflects just a small sample of my peppers, but also includes my entire sweet potato harvest.

Not that I had expected much — I wasn’t planning to plant any sweet potatoes this year, but last May I found an old one in the pantry that had sprouted, and instead of throwing it in the compost pile, I decided to stick it in the ground in a corner where I rarely plant anything.

The thing grew vines like crazy: they crept through the tomatoes and insinuated themselves throughout the volunteer cantaloupes I had planted nearby. Sadly, when I pulled up the vines and started grubbing around with my potato fork, the ground had hardened considerably, and one tiny tuber was the only reward for the gallons of water I’d put on it during the summer.

Alas, my offhand experiment turned out to be all vines and no potatoes.

Remembering that Jesus called on his disciples to bear the fruits of repentance — and his parable about the fruitless fig tree — I’m sure it grieves him when followers turn out to be all vines and no potatoes.

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