Growing versus mowing

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Once again this year, I have to decide if I am going to plant a garden or spread grass seed behind my house.

Every spring, I look at the spot where I have grown my garden for the last five decades.

As I get older, this question gets harder to pick an answer.

Because I have a bad back, bending over to pick the vegetables I have carefully grown for months becomes more difficult.

This means Susie has to pick even more each year.

She doesn’t seem to mind, but it bothers me. So, what do I do?

My main garden is 100 feet by 35 feet. Our raised bed inside the back yard is 10 feet by 25 feet. In front of our house are two sections about eight feet by 15 feet. This small area is mostly for flowers.

Then, we have a row of concrete blocks with the two holes in the middle as a border. We fill each of the holes with Miracle-Gro, then put pepper and tomato plants in each hole.

Last year, we had a friend repair both of my big Troy-bilt rototillers.

One is a pull start, which the neighbor will start for me, the other is an electric start. I can turn the key on it all by myself.

But, after I get the tiller started, I have to run it 35 feet across the garden, turn it, then, return another 35 feet back. I will do a few passes before I have to stop and take a break. (In my younger days, I would till the other direction, going 100 feet before turning.)

Often, a neighbor or some of our younger friends would take pity on me and till my garden for me. I repay them with pies or cakes, and give them canned or frozen vegetables from the garden after picking time.

I have several plastic trays with multiple holes in them.

I fill them with dirt and plant the pepper and tomato seed to start indoors.

When they get to the right stage, I more them outdoors into my mini greenhouse to continue growing until they are ready to set outside.

Most of these plants will be placed into the holes in the concrete blocks. Some are put into planters or five gallon buckets which we give to local kids to grow their own plants.

The raised bed inside the yard is where we put special plants or new varieties, which we want to give extra care.

This leaves the 3,500-square-foot-garden out back.

I usually plant five rows of Provider bush beans, wait a couple weeks and plant five more rows, then, a final five rows later. This year, I will just put out five or six rows of green beans, and put 10 staggered rows of Lima beans.

I will probably put out four of five hills of zucchini, five of six half rows of ornamental corn for fall decoration, several rows of giant sunflowers for the birds.

The first thing in the garden will be a few rows of peas. I usually plant a few more rows of peas in mid-August for a late crop. The south end of the garden is always where I grow gourds and pumpkins.

When it’s harvest time this year, I may try to find someone young who can pick my produce in exchange for food or money.

I can sit at my backyard picnic table or swing and snap the beans and shell the peas and Limas.

Susie and I will can the green beans and freeze the Lima beans and peas.

I shred the zucchini in my Kitchen Aid mixer attachment, measure two cups (that’s what most of my zucchini recipes call for), bag and freeze it. The peppers and tomatoes I use either fresh or slice and dry them in one of my two food dehydrators.

When the time comes I can no longer find someone to help till the garden or pick the produce, I will probably have to spread grass seed, and then we will just have more yard to mow.

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].

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].