June 10, 2013

Cat Tales: Who needs a big garden, anyway?

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — For almost 20 years now I’ve had my vegetable garden behind the house plowed and disked, but not this spring.

I got so disgusted with the weather last summer that by the time fall came, I swore I wouldn’t have a big garden next year.

Last year it didn’t rain for a solid month and it was real hot. That was in June. I bought so many soaker hoses that one store ran out and I had to go to another one to get more. The soaker hoses have to be real long to reach around to every plant because you can’t hook them together. You can hook one on to a regular hose, but not to each other. Since I have a double sided spicket near my garden, I was able to attach two long soaker hoses to two regular hoses so that they would reach the garden. It was like working a puzzle to get around all the plants and not have too much left over to waste water where there were no plants. I also had a large soaker hose on the flowers on the side of the house.

Even with all those soaker hoses my watermelons and pumpkins that were supposed to be huge, were so small I could easily pick them up. My peas dried up. My green beans just sat there until close to fall before they bloomed and produced. I actually got several messes and put them in the freezer. My tomatoes got the blight after I put them in cages in containers and stapled them down. I had also spent a lot of time putting black material on the garden and stapling it down. All I got out of the garden was green beans, a few cucumbers, a few cantaloupes, a few gypsy peppers, okra, and some basil. After all the hard work I did moving the heavy black material around to cover the whole garden, I was very much disappointed in what I got out of it. I could have almost cried.

So, this year I didn’t get the garden plowed. I’m letting the grass grow on it until I get over my mad spell. Maybe by next spring I will have a better attitude.

I’m not without any vegetables, though, because I have three wooden raised beds and a few large container pots.

In one bed I have asparagus, which is still coming up and in the corner of it is a rhubarb, which is getting so big it looks like a spaceship getting ready to take off. In the next bed I have strawberries that I’ve been eating and putting in the freezer. I have already made one Jerry’s Strawberry Pie with them. In the last bed I have peas which are blooming, radishes,  lettuce, and onions. I have already had one crop of radishes and planted some more seeds, but the stray cat outside loves to roll over in the dirt where they are planted so I don’t know if I will have any more. I planted Salad Bowl Lettuce. I like this kind because when I cut off, it grows back so that I don’t have to plant very much to get a lot.

I have five big container pots with tomatoes in them. I have one Mr. Stripey because my sister likes yellow tomatoes and I have four brandywine, the kind I like best. They look beautiful and are starting to bloom. In the pots I mixed compost in with the soil that was left over from last year. I hope they don’t get the blight.

This is all the garden I need and have time to fool with. In the freezer I still have plenty of green beans, zucchini, gypsy peppers, okra, basil, and parsley left over from last year. One of my friends promised me cabbage and cucumbers.

I’m going to put up some asparagus in the freezer by using the microwave method instead of blanching just to see how it turns out. The microwave method turned out good for the corn, zucchini, okra, and green beans I put up last year.

I plan on planting some green beans in containers in the middle of July for a fall crop because the master gardeners gave me two different heirloom samples of seeds — creamy bush beans from Virginia and granny pole beans from Estill County.  I usually plant blue lake and Kentucky wonder so I’m excited to try out these old varieties. I just didn’t get around to planting them sooner.

I don’t need a big garden to be happy. Besides, it’s rained so much most gardeners didn’t get their gardens plowed until the last of May. That’s getting a pretty late start.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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