Surprised by bounty

IMG_2780.1lowrezThe sentiment this summer among gardeners was dismal. Just when we started thinking this year would be a great year for gardening, a storm whipped up out of nowhere and smashed everything. So we replanted and waited and got hopeful – And just when we started getting optimistic, another stormed whipped up out of nowhere and smashed everything. Again. It was a little discouraging. Who wouldn’t be dismal when their beautiful garden gets crushed by pea-to-golfball-sized hail, knocked down by straight-line winds, flooded out, shriveled in the heat, or burned by an early frost?

IMG_2755.1lowrezBut suddenly we’ve been surprised by our garden actually producing vegetables, in spite of the late (third or fourth) planting. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but Sarah’s boss at Dakota Greens in Custer gave – gave – us upwards of 20 tomato plants, after the first planting was smashed, plus a variety of pepper plants. Such a gesture of generosity really floored me.

IMG_2749.1lowrezMom dutifully and eagerly planted them, regardless of how late in the season it was, content to have a garden that looked nice even if it didn’t ultimately grow anything. Someone else gave us a tomatillo plant which is now covered with fruit, other people gave us zucchini plants, and Mom replanted green beans.

IMG_2793.1lowrezBut what has been delightfully surprising is that not only did the plants that she planted late do well, but many of the plants that had gotten flattened or severely bruised in the hail are doing beautifully! Mom’s square-foot gardening boxes were planted thick with root vegetables, and we’re getting a bumper crop of turnips. I couldn’t help but marvel at the color – Such a rich, pure color. The basil and oregano likewise are plentiful, and many of the squash plants are laden.

What a welcome surprise! We have bags of green beans waiting to be blanched and frozen, lots of turnips, and herbs to freeze in oil. How exciting!

IMG_2805.1lowrezWe were out picking a few days ago, and Luna the Cat was darling to watch – He’s a weird cat with some really weird habits and weird quirks, but he is quite the charmer. He is uncannily companionable, although he prefers to not be snuggled, but he loves to be where the activity is. The whole time we picked, he was discovering the garden. He sneaked up on picked zucchini, prowled around in the green beans, got his little paws wet in puddles, and then discovered the leeks. He likes leeks.

Our tomato crop hasn’t been very good, since a late hail storm damaged a lot of the fruit, but the lack in tomatoes is more than made up for in the other bounty. We’re still pondering what we could use as a hail screen next year.

IMG_2741.1lowrezLesson for the day: Patience and persistence really does pay off sometimes. If Mom hadn’t insisted on replanting the third (or was it the fourth?) time and continuing the cultivate what survived, we wouldn’t be getting anything from the garden this year, except maybe some of the root crops and some squash. But we’ll have a little to put up in the freezer anyway, and plenty to cook fresh. Nothing quite makes a meal like home-grown produce.

Laura Elizabeth



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