Useful Vetch

This little plant is vetch and can be see growing up many hedgerows. It is a climber, and I found it hiding among my sweet peas where the canes and netting lends it a hand. It produces a pretty purple flower (tufted vetch, this one) which in turn becomes a pod of little beans. They were eaten by the poor for many years and, being a legume, offered a degree of nourishment if not flavour. It also takes nitrogen from the air, converts it into ammonia before releasing it back into the soil, fulfilling the nitrogen cycle, which restores fertility to the land. It can be used as green manure as well as livestock fodder. Rather useful for a common little weed!

I was once asked by a rather severe old man if I were the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea. He delighted to explain his question, having rightly anticipated my puzzled look. The former receives water and gives out again; the latter absorbs but gives nothing in return.

The vetch plant absorbs nutrients but also returns them. Here is a useful lesson for the Christian. While consuming resources and benefitting from what the church and others may give, what are we putting back?