Gardening this year reminds me of the struggles farmers face. Their tracts of land are greater, of course, but some of their problems are similar. Farming and gardening both struggle with weather, weeds, loss of crops, and insects.
Weather caused late start
Where I live, many farmers were unable to finish all their planting because of frequent wet weather. Since it snowed the first weekend in May, I wondered myself about when to plant the garden. Every Mother’s Day weekend, I purchase my plants intending to get them in the ground soon after because I have cats who like to nibble.
This year, when a cat ate all the leaves off my pepper plants a week after Mother’s Day, I rushed to get the flowers and seeds planted even though temperatures remained cooler than usual. The tender vegetable plants waited another week behind a closed door. This brought me to Memorial Day. For a few weeks longer, cool days remained the norm. Then warmer days arrived. By mid-July, the heat and humidity intensified.
Weeds always prosper
The whole summer has been wet with varying hot and cool days. My garden flourishes. Cutting lettuce, snapping beans, and picking zucchini bring satisfaction. Cabbages and onions and kohlrabi fatten up near my new bed of strawberries.
I’m still waiting on my abundant strawberry harvest. I planted 50 new ever-bearing plants this spring, but I had to snip off the flowers until July 1.
Weeds flourish, however, because weeds don’t care about temperatures and precipitation. They grow hardy whatever the weather. The part of gardening I’m not all that fond of is weeding, though I have known some older ladies who actually love the chore. The pleasure of a neat garden full of different greens and soon to be reds with the tomatoes keep me on task. I also enjoy providing my with family fresh produce and knowing how it was grown. I’d rather pull weeds than use chemicals so alas, the battle continues.
While weeding, I remind myself of these benefits, especially on hot days that tucker me out faster. My daughters help with weeding the flower beds and harvesting the vegetables and fruits. We weed each week to keep an upper hand on the pesky problem.
Monitoring my garden, I notice if the plant looks strong, but there isn’t any flower promising fruit. I count the handful of strawberry plants that struggle to survive or sigh at a bare spot where the plant died. I scrutinize the watermelon and wonder if I’ll have any before the season ends.
My thumb isn’t green, as those who have seen my houseplants can attest, but we manage to eat a lot from our garden and share with neighbors and friends. (My other crops include rhubarb, chives, onions, radishes, and carrots. Two sunflowers shade a section in between the boxes. I missed cucumbers and potatoes this year. The first because I didn’t notice they were missing on the list. Weather is blamed for the latter.)
So, I manage the weeds okay. Insects, however, cause more frustration.
Each year, the attack of the Japanese beetle catches me unaware. This time, I didn’t discover them until the day I was showing my dad my ailing maple trees. It appears our maples suffer from sun scald. My husband and I have consulted experts, researched the problems of the beetles and the ailing trees, and now take steps to do what we can.
I know gardening gives us such a small glimpse of what farmers deal with since the problems are on a much smaller scale. Still, fighting insects and weeds, suffering losses of plants, or getting poor yields frustrates a person. (I won’t even get into the frustrations of thieving critters like gophers, rabbits, and deer.)
Being aware of the work farmers do makes me thankful for all they provide. I hope despite the losses this year, they persevere, and that some good will come out of the stress they’ve encountered.
Though it is a small plot with questionable soil, we always harvest plenty of fresh veggies and fruit. It reminds me of Proverbs 12:11a and 28:19a: He who works his land will have abundant food.
Do you garden or farm? How are your crops this year? What’s your most bountiful crop?
Have you enjoyed the produce from a local Community Sustained Agriculture program? You might like to read https://www.michellekaderlywelsh.com/community-sustained-agriculture-broadened-our-menu/. This is a great option if you want to eat healthful food without gardening yourself.
I hope you enjoy your fruits and veggies until we meet again next week!