A Garden Plot

Vegetable gardens have always been a part of my life. I remember my grandma’s garden on the farm. It was huge. The plot of rich black soil was enclosed by chicken wire with a wood picket gate. That fence was supposed to keep out the rabbits. I suspect it was also aimed at keeping out small, unsupervised grandchildren.

Within that fence, Grandma grew lettuce, carrots, beets, beans, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lots of onions. Around the perimeter, rhubarb, horseradish, and dill thrived. This was the kitchen garden. Separate patches were set aside for sweet corn, more tomatoes, and more cucumbers. Plus there was a large potato patch. Back in those days, that bounty fed the family all winter. The root cellar held the potatoes and onions (and apples from the orchard!). Grandma pickled the beets and cucumbers and canned tomato juice and green beans. Cabbage became sauerkraut.

And, oh, the horseradish! I weep just thinking about it. Really. Weep.

My folks had a good sized garden, too. Over the years, it shrunk in size as Dad’s health failed and he could no longer keep it up. But I have fond memories of the sweet corn. Mom would put a pot of water on the stove. Dad would pick the ears and husk them. By then, the water was coming to a boil just in time to drop the fresh picked ears into it. It doesn’t get any fresher (or sweeter) than that.

We started a vegetable garden in our backyard as soon as we built our house. Nothing nearly as big or elaborate as the gardens of my past. We’ve grown different crops, some more successfully than others.

In recent years, the local wildlife has reaped more of our harvest than we have. And weeds have frequently choked out the plants. You see, gardening takes some time and effort. For a while, I was dealing with my dad’s failing health. Then my mom had a couple of rough years. Hubby has always been good about tilling the garden in the spring and planting seeds and tomato and pepper plants. But he doesn’t weed. Never has. Never will. He’s tried newspaper and grass clippings. He’s tried black plastic.

This year, it’s black cloth. Plus, with Mom in better health, the conference behind me, and no more evening yoga classes, I’ve spent more time in our garden than I have the last four years combined.

We have electric fence to deter bunnies and groundhogs.

I’m on duty, battling the weeds. From the pictures, you can see, I’m not winning the war, but I’m at least holding my own.

Already, we had a decent harvest of radishes. Those are done now. Currently, we’re dining on lettuce and onions. I had a fresh beet for dinner the other night and sautéed the greens with a fresh zucchini and one of the onions.

The carrots have a ways to go yet. I expect to harvest my first cucumber within a week. The beans aren’t ready yet, but the peppers are starting to come on.

As for tomatoes, if you look close, the first one is there!

It might be ripe by Halloween.

I love to hear about city residents turning vacant lots into community gardens. The stuff you pick and eat in the same day is so much better than the freshest produce you find in the stores. And I admire Michelle Obama for planting a vegetable garden at the White House.

With the family farm on the brink of extinction, it’s nice to know the family vegetable garden is making a comeback.


Sara said…
That groundhog looks seriously peeved about the electric fence.
Annette said…
He should consider himself seriously lucky that Ray wasn't home when he put in that appearance!

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