Friday, July 11, 2014

The Fruits of Our Labor

Corn Stalks
It's summertime once again, and I spend at least a part of almost every day working in our garden. It's one of my favorite summer activities, and its always exciting when the vegetables begin to ripen and can be harvested. Soon it will be time to can green beans and make pickles. The corn will be ready to pick and freeze, and ripening tomatoes mean tomato sandwiches for lunch. The garden gives me an outlet for my outdoor energies on the days when fishing is out of the question, and serves to keep me occupied during my summer break from teaching.

This year's garden has so far yielded Georgia sweet onions and Red Pontiac potatoes, along with several cucumbers and a lone squash. Our squash and zucchini vines fell victim to squash bugs, and were wiped out before they had a chance to bear much fruit. I was surprised, because the first few years we had a garden the squash bugs and squash vine borers weren't a problem. I'm going to have to be more diligent in future years to make sure these pests don't become a problem again. The most disappointing thing about losing our squash and zucchini will be the lack of fried squash and homemade zucchini relish in our house this summer. Another loss from the garden earlier this year was our cabbage and broccoli plants. Judging from the tracks left behind, these fell victim to the deer that call the woods behind our house home. I was hoping to attempt homemade sauerkraut this year, but the deer decided that fresh cabbage was on the menu and didn't leave me any to experiment with.

The rest of the garden, minus the onions, potatoes, cabbage, and broccoli, was planted later this year than in years past. Normally I try to plant our garden soon after April 15, our normal frost free date, but some unusually cold weather caused me to delay planting until close to May 1. So far, this hasn't seemed to have a negative affect on our garden since we've been lucky enough to have fairly frequent rain showers. The only difference I've really noticed is that of course planting two weeks later has caused everything to ripen about two weeks later.

Charleston Gray Watermelon

One thing that has me excited about this year's garden is our watermelon vines. For some reason, my attempts at growing watermelons the past few years have been less than stellar. The watermelons seem to stop growing and ripen while still very small, even though I planted a variety that was supposed to produce large melons. This year I'm trying a couple new things with the melons, planting a different variety  and also changing the location of them in the garden. So far, our watermelon vines seem to be much more vigorous, and the melons are growing at a faster rate than I've seen in previous years. I don't want to declare it a success yet, but I'm hopefully optimistic about this year's crop.

Time will tell what this year's garden will produce for us, but the thoughts of fresh vegetables  make all the hours spend pulling weeds and picking beans worth every minute. This winter, the corn in the freezer and the canned green beans will serve as a taste of the summer gone by, and give me a reason to till the ground and plant more seeds come spring.

- Joseph


  1. I love gardening. Up here we have such lousy soil I grow what little I can on the deck, in pots. Usually a couple tomato plants and a Zucchini and a yellow squash. Maybe someday if we sell and move downcountry I'll have a big garden again.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mark! I think I'd have to have a tomato plant or two even if we weren't lucky enough to have good soil for gardening just for the tomato sandwiches.

  2. Joseph, thanks for sharing your gardening interest with us. Being retired and living in a Senior Community, I have left the gardening too others. Like Mark, I have some herbs, lettuce, and a cherry tomato plant on my deck. Kudos to you for your effort in providing for your family.

    1. Thanks Mel! The garden is a team effort around our house, my wife does a lot to help out.

  3. I love fresh, native veggies. I only have a few tomato plants on the deck, and some herbs. But I have two local farms that get my daily business.
    Your garden looks wonderful, and well worth the effort.

    1. Thank you Brk Trt! We really enjoy the fresh vegetables each summer. It's definitely a labor of love.


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