It’s July and How is Your Garden Doing?, by Kathy Smith

It’s July and how is your garden doing? Normally at this time of year most people are complaining about having to water their gardens, but the folks I’ve been talking to lately say theirs are under water. Have we even had a “normal” year recently?

This annual ritual of planting a garden is proof that deep inside we are all farmers. We are trying to connect with our past when our survival depended upon the food we grew or gathered. Or maybe we are not crazy about buying all our produce from other countries. My favorite part about having a garden is that for a few months I can walk past the produce department and smile at other people buying tasteless tomatoes and expensive lettuce. It just feels good.

Whatever your reasons for plowing, planting, weeding, tilling and sweating to provide vegetable for your family, here are a few absolutely true gardening stories you might enjoy.

Several years ago a man and his wife were putting in a garden for the first time. They had turned a backyard swimming pool into their garden. After trucking in loads of topsoil and horse manure, they decided to plant several kinds of peppers.

Apparently not being optimists or lacking faith in their gardening skills, they also decided that about half of their plants would probably die. So to make sure of a good crop, they planted 70 pepper plants. Not only did every one of the plants survive, they grew and produced like champions.

One day they picked 17 peppers from one plant! Weekends were spent canning peppers, and when they weren’t canning peppers, they were at the store buying more jars so they could can more peppers. They canned enough peppers to last for years. I was told that they did not plan to plant peppers any time soon.

Another garden story finds a husband and wife planting beans. She likes green beans and he likes the yellow wax beans. He instructs her to finish the row with yellow beans and cover the rows. Then he leaves. Well, she finished the row with green not yellow ones. Surprise!

Then there are the three cousins all about 4 years old who decided to help Grandpa with his garden. It was early spring and Grandpa had the seed bed all ready to plant when he had to travel to Florida for a convention. The grandchildren thought that they should help him by planting dandelions in his garden. The young ones worked hard at putting all the back yard’s maturing dandelions in Grandpa’s garden. By the time he returned a week later, the garden was a solid mat of yellow. The little ones were so proud of their work and how much they had helped.

Looking back, one of the helpers says he knows now that his grandfather had to fight back tears when they showed him their handiwork.

Our family has had some garden stories too. There was the year I worked so hard to grow sweet corn only to have the raccoons hold a party in the field and take a bite out of nearly every ear. And then there was a July hail storm when all the squash and pumpkins ended up with pits in them from the hail. Even as they matured, the dents from the hail remained as gray bumps.

Hopefully this summer will yield a bumper crop of vegetables from your garden and good stories too.

Kathy Smith is a farm wife from Wayne Township. She writes for the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau.