Whitesburg KY

Gardening … vacariously

“Vicariously” is the experience of watching or reading about someone else do something and pretending, or feeling like, you are doing it yourself. A lady reader recently emailed to tell me that I rarely wrote a column that didn’t have at least a couple of words that she had to go look up. She was not impressed with my vocabulary and, essentially, told me to “keep it simple, stupid”.

Since I can’t seem to think of any other way of saying that I garden, “vicariously”, through my younger brother, Andy, I thought I’d just go ahead and save her a trip to the dictionary.

Gardening, through Andy, has been a transition that evolved over the last four years. In 2016, once he had the garden tilled up with the Troybilt Horse, I could get everything seeded or transplanted and, essentially, take care of it with a little tiller and a rake or hoe. Throughout 2017 I could still do well over half the gardening under my own head of steam. By 2018 I could still fire up the little tiller and handle a lot of the cultivation and harvesting. I saved seeds galore, dried shucky beans and even helped Loretta get vegetables ready for canning and freezing.

Earlier this year, in March and April, I even planted some peas, beans and lettuce without much assistance, but, by mid-May, I found out that I couldn’t even fire up the little tiller, much less run it. A third stroke, that seemed very mild at the time, has turned out to be having far more neurological issues than anticipated. Either that, or Mr. Parkinson has decided to put his pedal to the metal. Suffice to say that the medical profession isn’t of much assistance to me these days.

In the meantime, I have a fall garden planted while the spring garden is still yielding way more sweet corn, peppers, onions, Yukon Gold potatoes and six varieties of heirloom tomatoes than we can take care of. A short row of lazy wife beans is just now blooming.

I found the seeds last Wednesday, while Andy tilled up and planted 40 row-feet of red-eye and black satin fall beans, 30 feet of Oregon Sugar Pod snow peas, 60 feet of Bodacious sweet corn, a hoop of English cucumbers, from last year’s seeds and a short row of butter crunch lettuce. He also scattered a heaping hand full of turnip seeds around but we won’t know how large the patch is until they start sprouting. We hope to have planted some summer squash, radishes, spinach, mustard and green onion sets by the time you are reading this column.

Andy also stretched electric fence around the beans and pea patch. Rabbits, of which we have a hoard, will eat the plants as soon as they sprout and we don’t have a dog to chase them out. The beans aren’t up yet but that has not stopped at least four rabbits from attempting to check their progress. If you want to see how high a rabbit can jump and how fast it can run, just watch it touch its ear to an electric fence. I’ve seen the results four times last weekend.

Call me a masochist if you must, but there a very few things with more entertainment value than a just juiced rabbit wishing it had stayed out of our bean patch. As far as I’m concerned, the electric fence is more far humane than a shotgun. Somebody told me that rabbits have to eat too. My reply was “so do buzzards and coyotes and more than one rabbit has been on their menus as a result of trying to destroy my garden.”

In the meantime, as longtime readers of this column already know, I believe that most vegetables grow better and faster and taste much better when they ripen in late September and early October than they do in July.

My brother, Andy, is doing all the work but I’m having a great time tending the fall garden, vicariously, and praying that we don’t have an early frost.

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