We go to my Dad’s place in E. Texas quite regularly, and, the past couple of months, we’ve settled into a routine. As soon as we wake up on Saturday, often before breakfast, we head out to the half-acre he’s plowed into a garden. At first, it was readying the area, or putting plants or seeds into the ground. Then, we shifted to weeding, or hilling, or watering, or some combination thereof. And more recently, it’s been picking. So far it’s squash and cucumbers — an abundance of yellow summer squash and cucumbers. (I wish I could say it’s all organically grown, but my Dad is an old-school believer in the power of Miracle-Gro and Sevin dust.)
This past weekend, we switched gears a bit, as the sheer volume of produce began to overwhelm. After a harvesting session left us with something like 2 grocery bags of cucumbers and 4 of squash, we set to work pickling. I’m currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, and I’ve found myself immersed in the food preservation frenzy both within the book and in life. (More to come in another post.)
My own garden has become something of a disappointment. What I began with high hopes and plans for glorious raised beds has turned into three deer-ravaged potted plants and a couple of herbs in a bed outside my office window. One of my poor plants has been so destroyed by predation that it currently even lacks a single leaf, though I dutifully water it in hopes something will emerge. Fat chance we’ll get fruit from it this year, though there’s still hope for a few tomatoes. (And, I must admit, the herbs don’t appear to appeal to the animal life hereabouts, though the humans have certainly found plenty of use for fresh basil.)
This disappointment makes it all the more pleasant to get some gardening experience under our belts at my Dad’s, so next year we’ll have at least a season of knowledge to go with our electric fence. Last year, my father planted a similarly ambitious garden, but he had to abandon it when he went into the hospital with pneumonia — staying there for what turned out to be more than a month. This year, he’s much healthier, as is his garden. There is much to be thankful for, and to frantically preserve while it’s fresh.