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Column

Garden woes

I think we’ve lost our green thumbs.

A few years ago, we gave up our larger garden we had out near the pasture. It had produced so well for many years. There’s absolutely nothing as good as a big, juicy tomato with cottage cheese alongside a glass of iced tea on a hot summer evening. And green beans? I don’t save up bacon grease in my refrigerator all year for nothing!

I also used to can tomatoes and green beans, freeze jalapeños and bell peppers, and there was always an overabundance of zucchini, even after frying some up for nearly every supper. I also made zucchini sticks, zucchini bread, and of course, sent the large squash home as a parting gift to anyone who came for a visit.

People living in the country know all too well how to deer-proof their gardens. We can sit on our deck or look out a window and often see deer meandering around in the fields, our pasture or even in our yard. There’s nothing much more peaceful, hence the wire fencing around our garden.

However several years ago, we started having a problem with burrowing critters, stealthily gaining access to our protected — we thought — produce.

We decided at first we’d gotten ahold of bad seeds. Only a few little green plants managed to break through the soil. So we ended up planting all the rows of beans again. I’m not so sure we didn’t even try to plant them a third time. I believe after all that work, we may have actually come up with enough just enough for a couple of meals.

It was obvious, given the signs in the lawn and the visual sightings of nasty things running in and out of the barn, the only thing we were really doing was planting snacks for moles, voles, squinnies and gophers who had decided to build their own little underground cities on our property.

After that one year of a failed garden we went to Plan B and tried the raised garden method. I have seen some beautiful raised gardens and the idea of saving wear and tear on one’s back? What could go wrong?

We purchased lumber, soil and plants and went to work with high hopes. We also rigged up a watering system with an old galvanized water tank, a 30-year-old utility trailer, a spigot, hose and with gravity on our side, we thought it would be much easier than dragging the garden hoses across the yard and down to the lot.

Maybe we should have done a bit of research. First off, we didn’t make it deep enough ... not enough room for the roots. On the flip side, we did apparently build it plenty wide, we could barely reach the produce in the middle of the structure. The water containment system kind of worked, but over all, it was a fail.

After that, we decided to downsize the garden and put it in a corner of our fenced in backyard, but that meant giving up fresh green beans. I figured I could live with that as long as we continued with plenty of tomato plants.

So last year it was on to Plan C. We tilled up an area just large enough for probably 12 tomato plants, several zucchini hills, bell peppers and jalapenos. Everything grew well, but nothing produced much. The zucchini at least bared enough for meals throughout the summer, but nothing more. I was able to freeze up a few peppers. The tomato plants towered our 6 foot privacy fence by at least 12 inches and appeared to have an abundance of fruit set on, but few of them would turn red. We did try fried green tomatoes ... not a fan.

So anyway ... it was clear we needed to go to Plan D. This year we attempted container gardening. It didn’t work for us either, plus we think our golden retriever Willow is snipping the blossoms off the zucchini.

We’ll just continue purchasing our fresh veggies from stands and markets this year, but next year we’ll be on to plan E — yet to be determined.

Contact Dana King at dking@shawmedia.com

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