Susie and I got married in 1971.
We moved into a small apartment complex and maybe had a plant or two growing in the window.
About three years later, we moved just south of Anderson and then had a house on an acre of ground. I plowed a large garden.
For the past 48 years we have grown flowers, vegetables and assorted other plants.
This year was different.
Forty some years ago, we moved to a new location with just half an acre. I now have a garden 100 feet by 35 feet in our back yard. We usually plant 10 to 15 rows of green beans and usually get four or five pickings off of the resulting plants. That gives us about 60 to 80 quarts of beans to can.
This year, we planted only five rows. We got one picking from this and only canned eight quarts. The weeds took over the garden because the two tillers I use to keep them down wouldn’t work, plus the ground was so dry we had very few blooms.
The only other thing I put out was six tomato plants. Usually, I plant about 20 plants. Like the beans, we got almost no produce from this effort. The little girl next door came over occasionally and picked what few tomatoes were on the plants.
I planted three hills of zucchini. Most folks would get a wheelbarrow of zucchini from this amount. It’s early September now and I have one zucchini. Fortunately, I go to the Pendleton Farmers Market every Saturday and I’ve found some nice ones at a decent price. I grind them up, measure them two cups to a bag, and put them in one of my freezers. They just need thawing for my zucchini bread, cakes and cupcakes.
Was my lack of a decent garden this year my fault, the fault of the weather, or perhaps the soil in my garden was lacking something?
I will turn 75 this month.
Next year, do I just need to buy all my produce from the farmers market?
Will the weather be better?
Should I sink some money into getting my two Troy-bilt tillers in running condition? I know I should get a soil sample test at the Madison County Extension Office and see if my soil is lacking some vital ingredient.
I always enjoy sitting in my easy chair and going through the stacks of seed catalogs, which show up in my mail starting around January.
I order a lot of my favorites, and always find some new products to try.
By the time all of my orders arrive, it’s time to till my garden.
That means by early January, I will have to decide if I will have a garden next year or not.
This year, we found it was much easier to just mow the garden instead of plowing, planting, weeding, watering and picking, then canning, freezing or drying all the produce.
Maybe next year I will spend more time in the garage making wooden pens, birdhouses and feeders, and assorted other crafts. We have an attached garage, so when it’s cold outside, it’s warm in the garage, and when it heats up, the air conditioner keeps the garage cool.
Metal detecting still takes up a lot of our time.
We have enjoyed this hobby for more than 40 years.
When we travel, we always have several detectors with us.
We carry extras in case we need to teach some newcomers how to join us.
While I like to search the yard around old houses, we didn’t get to do that often this year because of the lack of rain. The ground was too hard and I won’t damage someone’s yard looking for treasures.
Lately, we have gotten some rain, the ground is softer, and the temperature is more reasonable.
We have been metal detecting in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan and other places this year, and the next two or three months should be fine to be outdoors looking for lost goodies.
If you have an older yard and would like to learn what has been lost there, contact me. We can even teach you how to use a detector.
I guess I need to decide now if I will have a garden next year.
I would need to get my tillers into the shop this fall.
Next spring they will be too busy to fix mine without a long wait time. Mow or grow? That is the question.
The author may be reached at [email protected]
Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected]