Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gifts from the Garden

For all the rewards of growing a garden, there are also disappointments. Sometimes gardening can be downright humbling. For example, today I spent some time looking over the tomato plants for signs of ripening tomatoes, and just to see what needed to be done. I noticed that the husky red tomato plants were so husky that in some cases they were smashing their own fruit. All summer long I have talked about what beautiful plants these were and felt they were doing fine. Now that it is too late, I see where I should have staked up stems or pruned away suckers. In trying to make up for it now, I popped 3 nice green tomatoes off the plant. If I would have noticed the need for this 3 or 4 weeks ago, I would not have had this problem. As it is, it looks like we'll be enjoying some fried green tomatoes for dinner.

Some things to add to my do's and don'ts list for next summer:
  1. Don't be afraid to use some Sevin dust (after the plants have finished blooming) on the squash vines;
  2. Do space the garden boxes further apart. Consider some kind of climbing supports for the cantaloupe and cucumbers;
  3. Don't mix different types of plants in the boxes;
  4. Do be more diligent about tying the tomato plants to the stakes.

For all the rewards of gardening, it is also a lot of work. I think that sometimes, people who do not have gardens feel like homegrown vegetables have no cost. The extra tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash your gardening friends share with you aren't really free, however. It takes a lot of planning, sweat, and hard work to have a successful garden. Seeds, plants, soil, chemicals, mulch, fertilizer, and sometimes even water, must be paid for. We gardeners feel these cost are justified and that it is worth the expense to know where our food comes from. We like the ability to be able to enjoy our vegetables fresh from the garden. We have the freedom to choose the varieties of food we grow and eat, and the peace of mind that our harvest is safe. We like to share with our friends and neighbors because we are rightfully proud of our harvest. So, if you know a gardener who offers to share some gifts from their garden with you, be sure to remember the hard work behind the harvest, and smile because they are happy to share their harvest with you.

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