"Hey, Vinnie, what'cha ya doin'?" I called to my three-legged neighbor. Vinnie appeared to be scratching around in a small, rectangular box of litter, but what strange litter. Usually litter is light grey. The stuff he was digging was a dark, blackish-brown. Clearly not litter.
"I'm sorry, Oliver, what was that? These old ears aren't what they used to be." Vinnie smiled up at me with that semi-toothless grin of his. I love Vinnie's gap-filled smiles. They always warm my heart.
"I asked what you were doing."
"I'm tending to my vegetable garden, young man." replied Vinnie with what seemed like a small amount of modest pride. "Yessirree, nothing beats fresh vegetables harvested from your own deck garden."
Before I could stop myself the word, "Eeeuuuuwww" escaped my lips. "Sorry, I don't mean to be rude. I just don't like vegetables." I explained.
"Quite all right. I understand. I used to hate 'em myself. That was back in the day before diabetes claimed my leg."
"Dia...what...ese?" I asked.
"Diabetes. It's a disease that we felines are susceptible to. It comes from eating too much unhealthy food and not enough veggies. By the time my vet discovered the disease it had already progressed to the point where I needed to have my leg amputated." He patted the stump that served as his leg. "Yessirreee, this here ol' stump is my battle wound in my fight against the disease, but I've come out the winner. I changed my unhealthy eating and have started growing my own healthy food." He looked at me again and I could see his old eyes twinkling.
"I don't see any vegetables." I said.
"Well, no, not yet. They take time to grow. Right now, I'm just tending to the soil." He motioned to the blackish-brown stuff and I recognized it then as the stuff Miss R.'s plants grow in.
"Soil. I know a little bit about soil. Miss R's students are studying soil right now at school. I bet they might even have information that would help your garden grow." I was pleased to think that I might be able to help Ol' Cat Vinnie. He's just a cool guy.
"Oliver, that would be marvelous. I sure would appreciate it," Vinnie said and he grinned that old gap-toothed smile of his.
So, boys and girls, I need your help. What can you tell me about soil? How does soil help plants grow? Do you have any information that would help Vinnie?