The Deadbeat Gardner

September 2007

I tackled the garden last Friday. I would call my husband a deadbeat gardener, that is the nicest thing I called him as I pulled out 6’ tall weeds and piled them in a pile roughly the size and shape of a Volkswagon Beetle. Each spring we have the same conversation, I say, “let’s just do a little garden this summer, some tomatoes, maybe a zucchini.” To this my husband replies, “Huh” very loudly which means he doesn’t agree. A few years ago I had him put in a hydrant at the end of the garden so he couldn’t stretch it one more rototiller width each year, he has to stop at the hydrant or it would be pretty obvious. His mom raised 11 children on her garden produce and he seems to think I could do likewise. This right here is one reason I am not Amish.

As I am pregnant and still unaccustomed to the humidity and heat of central Nebraska summers after nine years, I told him it was up to him this year. He gamely planted three rows of potatoes (the cheapest and most reliable produce item to buy in a store) because we had some getting a little leggy around the house. He planted tomatoes, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, beets, zucchini, and cucumbers. At least that is all I unearthed, he might have planted carrots too. Of course the cukes are all yellow chicken bombs by this time, and since he got the garden in late, the beans seem to be just coming on. It is just too doggone hot for me to be crawling around out in the garden picking beans during Tommy’s naptime (after lunch), and the mosquitoes are horrid after bedtime, so we haven’t had any.

He started the summer rototilling between the rows, but that ended when July started.  He had a pressing fencing project to complete, and a grain bin to take down, and a friend who needed help doing something and so on. It is not like he languishes on the couch watching TV or anything, but he hasn’t been gardening either.

My jungle expedition revealed a trazillion ripe grape tomatoes and lots of green tomatoes which are going to be ready soon. And the beans. We also seem to have one intrepid beet. I jostled the vines around enough to cause problems with both the cantaloupe and watermelon, two and one respectively, all small. We ate so many zucchini and cucumbers earlier this year that our skin looked like we were developing some sort of photosynthesis mechanism. Our green skin has faded though, and fall approaches. My pantry has one lonely quart of tomatoes awaiting its fate.

I ran out of canned tomatoes a few years ago, so I went to the store. Did you have any idea there were so many different kinds of canned tomatoes? Diced, whole, stewed, then you hit the value added market, diced with onions, basil, green peppers, and so on. I just go to the pantry and get a quart of tomatoes, two if I am making soup. What do you even use all this other stuff for? I am hoping the weather and the family cooperate so I can put some tomatoes up this year. I love to look at rows of home canned stuff on my shelf, and when I have the time and energy, I don’t even mind putting it up, but I don’t plan to survive on my garden produce.

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