In the 40-plus years that Linda and I have been married, I have put out over 30 gardens. They don’t necessarily improve from year to year, but this year, in terms of the amount harvested, it has to be my best.
For a household of two, we have what many would consider to be a rather large garden. I grew up in a large family, which meant a large garden, so it all looks fairly normal to me. I don’t really think in terms of large when I look at those 25-foot rows, even though there are 44 of them.
Each spring, planning for the layout of the garden, getting the soil prepared, making the rows and planting the seeds are a joy for me. I even enjoy running the tiller between rows after the plants are up and growing. I don’t like using the hoe or pulling weeds.
Harvest begins early with the peas and other early vegetables and continues on through the summer. I always felt like planting and harvesting was my job, and preparation, freezing and canning was under Linda’s direction. With the bumper harvest this year, it has taken both of us to reap and stow.
In addition to the aforementioned peas, we have harvested potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, okra, tomatoes and sweet corn. Half the garden was dedicated to sweet corn, as I normally plan for loss due to deer, raccoons and drought. This year, rainfall was bountiful and I managed to install the electric fence in time to ward off the wildlife. Every stalk in each of the 22 rows produced — all at the same time.
Also growing in my garden is an interesting assortment of foxtail millet, cotton morning glory, ivy leaf morning glory, chicory, common ragweed, dandelion, large crabgrass and other weeds I could not identify from the online directory of Missouri weeds. Did I mention that I don’t like using a hoe or pulling weeds? Right now harvesting cucumbers is like a scavenger hunt. Look for the large patch of weeds, and you might find cucumbers — or possibly poison ivy.
There is a new catch phrase in our house, coined by my very patient, ever-loving wife, “Two people cannot possibly eat this much (fill in the blank with the current vegetable of choice).”
Next year, she is going to assist me with the planning stage of the garden. I will be allotted one seed for each type of vegetable with the balance of the garden being planted in fescue.
David Coffelt is a Harrisonville resident and CEO of Coffelt Land Title, Inc.