By Brian G. Schommer
We are starting to see roadside produce stands as we drive up and down the thoroughfares in our little nook of Minnesconsin. SWEET CORN signs with makeshift structures, tents, and awnings over the back of a pickup truck loaded with garden fresh veggies can be seen from blocks away creating an almost magnetized pull on your vehicle. The same can be said for the area Farmers Markets where only weeks ago the availability of fresh produce was limited. The early harvest is starting to set in and for those who garden on their own, this is a very exciting time of the year. Pulling all the weeds (most of them, those little suckers are relentless), watering, raking, and doing all the other little tasks that should provide a bountiful blend of gardenfresh produce will finally come to fruition. Very exciting, indeed.
After taking a long hiatus from gardening, I decided to put one in again this year. My usual mantra for a new or renewed project is “go big or go home” and sadly, often I fail miserably and realize after that the mantra should have been “baby steps.” With the gardening adventure, I have learned from past fumbles (a reference to get the football fan readers geared up for the upcoming season) and went with a much simpler plan. A nice little ten by twelvefoot chunk of land with a few tomato and pepper plants with a row of beans, a row of carrots and a hill of pumpkins and squash is all that “Garden Gate 2022” would need. A twofoothigh chicken wire fence to keep those bunnies out and come the late summer, early fall harvest time… fresh produce would be in our refrigerator.
I can report SUCCESS on both keeping the project to a minimum AND have harvested my first few items of the early season. I recently was able to pick three jalapeno peppers, six cherry tomatoes and ONE nice string bean from the garden with plenty more to come. The pepper plants will soon be providing numerous sweet yellow banana, green bell and of course, jalapenos in the very near future. There appears to be hope for the jumbo tomatoes and the pumpkins have spread like wildfire. The beans and carrots are doing okay but could use a little encouragement so, if anyone sees me out talking to them, just know that I read somewhere once that talking to your plants helps them grow. It was on the internet, so it must be true. When I compare this year’s gardening experience to years gone by, it most certainly has been much more satisfying and successful. Granted, I have been more diligent about taking the time to pull weeds more often than I have in the past. I have also put more time into cultivating occasionally and watering when Mother Nature fails to provide the costfree version of water known as rain, which she has not been very generous with this year. In the past, the amount of attention given to the garden might not have been what was necessary to help it grow and provide a harvest that one would hope for.
Spending time in the garden is also something that I have found fulfilling when it comes to having some of that “selftime” that those professional psychologytype folks are always recommending. It might just be fifteen minutes of reflection, but I have come to find that is all the time I need to keep my wheels on the track so the train that is life can keep moving. We all have a lot of moving parts on our journey and sometimes, keeping all the balls in the air can be a bit difficult. From the many adventures, expectations, and frustrations that come with being part of a family in today’s crazy world to work deadlines, involvement in activities and groups that “help make your life complete” to keeping up with the Joneses… fifteen minutes might be all you have some days.
Here is a bit of advice that I will share… take it for what it is worth. As for the family adventures, make sure you take the time for them because it can all change in an instance. We know that tomorrow is not promised. Do the little things that will lead to a bountiful harvest, just like gardening. There will be frustrations (weeds) and while sometimes the expectations that you or others have, keeping your eye on the prize (harvest) and doing what is needed to ensure at least some form of success happens is the key. The rest of things will come out in the wash, as my mom would say quite often. As for the Joneses, they have plenty of issues as well. Instead of trying to keep up with them, just focus on your own garden to make sure you get the harvest that you want. If you do the extra work that is needed, you have a better chance at filling your refrigerator with garden fresh veggies.
See you at a roadside produce stand soon… now Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors.