My late grandmother had a huge garden, one worthy of a woman who survived the Great Depression and married young and raised four children in a small town (translation: wide spot in the road) in farm country. Grandma grew it and sold some of it and canned a ton of it and shared a bunch of it and feasted on it all winter.
Then there’s my mother. When I was a girl I hated Mom’s garden. Hated. It. Well, I guess it wasn’t the garden I hated. I loved strawberries and fresh corn on the cob and home-canned green beans, but can we talk about the weeding? Adam’s curse was mine as Mom ignored child labor laws and forced me to pull weeds out there in the hot summer sun. (At least that’s what I thought at the time!)
And now my sister, my younger sister, has carried on the gardening tradition. She lives in the country and has the space as well as the wherewithal and the knack for growing things. She’s even shared her bounty with me in exchange for help with cleaning and canning the produce, which happens to be a garden task at which I have skill. I can can. Or bottle, if you prefer. Bring on the mason jars!
But I live in town and just have a couple of 4’x8’ garden beds in the yard. I’ve had fair-to-middling success some years growing sugar snap peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I’ve learned to save heirloom tomato and cantaloupe seeds and had the most beautiful cantaloupe last year…that was eaten by deer the night before I planned to pick it. Yep. Deer. And rabbits. In town. We’ve learned to encase our garden in chicken wire, which makes weeding loads of fun.
So this year I thought I’d like to try to grow more green beans so I could go out and pick a “mess” of them for supper like Grandma used to do. I purchased Blue Lake Bush Bean seeds, the kind from which my sister gets oodles of beans each harvest, and planted them in mid-May, expecting to thin the seedlings when they came up. I have three plants. Three. One looks good. One looks okay. One is barely up.
Note to self: Don’t buy that brand of seeds ever again.
But I will not be defeated! Even though today is probably about a week past what should have been my last planting date, I went ahead and put a few more seeds in the empty space in my garden. The soil looks great. I’ve made a focused effort to add compost this past year and purchased some new soil from the garden center this spring for good measure. So I am hopeful.
The good news is that some of the “free” items I planted as garden hacks are doing well. And the tomatoes and the pumpkin vine appear to be plotting to take over the world. But I’ll tell you more about those another time. Meanwhile, if you have any gardening advice for me, please comment! I need to live up to Grandma’s legacy!
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