City Girl Gone Gardening: It’s Time

Farm Garden

By Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to plant and a time to uproot … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to mourn and a time to dance… Ecclesiastes 3 (heavily edited)

I have a confession to make. My little backyard garden isn’t my only garden. My nephew, A.J. and I embarked on a much bigger project last year on my parents’ farm in Southern Indiana.  We took Mom’s old 35 foot X 35 foot garden plot and planted rows and rows of tomatoes, green beans and various peppers. We had a blast.

So there was no question we would do it again this year.

The Farm Garden as AJ and I call it. This shot was taken in May from my brother's new toy, a "drone".

The Farm Garden as AJ and I call it. This shot was taken in May from my brother’s new toy, a “drone”.

a time to plant…

farm garden

This was planting day back in May. My, oh, my, how we dreamed of our bushels of beans and tomatoes that we would start collecting in July, just like we did last year.

a time to uproot…

Simply put, the rains have kept us out. In the past two weeks, the mushy land dried up enough where we could set foot in a row and not have our feet sink three inches into mud. We spent four hours hand-pulling weeds. We hoped we would be able to till between the rows and “air-out” the plants a few days later. It didn’t happen.

…a time to weep…

What’s supposed to be beautiful, green-free, brown paths between each row has been attacked by various and assorted weeds. Some we had never seen before in our lives. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the mess because I was terrified to take my phone in for fear it would drop into the mud and I would never find it.

This week, they say there’s less chance of rain (after today, of course). We’ll see. If it holds true, I’ll go up and, once again, hand-pull all the weeds and pray we can till. Maybe we’ll be able to harvest in, oh, I don’t know, OCTOBER.

…a time to laugh …

This is my consolation. My little raised beds continue to thrive, mostly.  My squash (front bed) is iffy and my cucumber vines (in the back) are looking a bit sickly, but this was my haul last night:

harvest

harvest

Despite the sickly vines, I’ve collected quite a few cucumbers. Most of these will become pickles.

peppers

My green peppers continue to grow as well. The banana peppers (peeking between the leaves on the right) will also be canned to be used on salads, sandwiches and whatnot.

For perspective, the bigger tomato is larger than my hand. [squeal!]

For perspective, the bigger tomato is larger than my hand. [squeal!]

Just look at these beauties. I can honestly say I have never grown tomatoes this big before. They’re called Mortgage Lifters from Gagel’s Farm and I will definitely get them again next year. A relatively smaller one ripened over the weekend, so my daughter and I tore into it.

tomato art

My daughter had to express her opinion of the taste through food art. Yes, it was very tasty.

potatoes

And lookie here! Yep, those are potatoes! The tops of the plants have died out and my mom said that’s when I can definitely start digging around in the ground. I picked this batch for dinner tonight. There are one or two that aren’t very visible, but they have a greenish tint to them. Those will go in the compost. I was told to never, ever, eat a green potato.

The next few weeks will be the same. Every other morning, I plan to go out and pick what I can.

Of this I know, I will definitely keep using my raised beds. I do believe they have made all the difference during this unusually rainy season. Now, to find my rain boots and snorkels before I head to mine and AJ’s garden.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3 12-13

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