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Eureka! At last I have produced enough home-grown vegetables to freeze a few for the upcoming colder months. My harvest is far short of my parents who grew enough vegetables to can or freeze and last a family of six through the winter.
It feels like I’ve made huge progress at last, overhauling the growing space, not coping with broken ankle or tick fever or art festival travels as I have in past summers. The peas, beans, and beets have matured. I’ve been freezing everything extra—since, how many peas can you eat in a week? Oncoming are corn, tomatoes, squash, and the ever-bearing strawberries are still putting out their sweet fruit.
It is thrilling after all this daily investment of time, watering, weeding, and fertilizing to have a few things actually grow! The raised bed concept is working well, the gathering of compost from daily life has really helped, and I’ve re-purposed leaves and grass to be weed barriers.
When I drive around Meeker and go to the Farmer’s Market, I see that many of you are way ahead of me and have mastered the art of growing vegetables, mitigating deer and squirrels, and accommodating ever changing growing local weather conditions.
Truly, every summer and season is different, challenging in its own way, and rewarding or frustrating. Here in Rio Blanco County, we can rejoice that the high temperatures were not overwhelming, the wildfires did not consume precious land, and it has been a rather easy summer weather-wise.
Yet, back in Indiana, the managers of my mom’s farm nearly didn’t plant anything because it was still so wet and crop insurance would not cover alternative choices. The mid-west of America is suffering this year to produce anything and we in the west are doing better than last year.
For myself, I try not to take this summer as some normative expectation nor gloat over the improved harvest from the year before. Like my grandparents and parents, I wish I raised enough stuff to preserve for the longer future in case the weather is not cooperative next year. Each pea or bean or strawberry is special to me, so I am grateful for their maturity and the freshness they bring to our meals.
In the end, it is a lesson of patience and endurance. One can’t survive over time if you give up easily. We humans have no control over Mother Nature so we must learn to thrive alongside, whatever the conditions. To me, gardening is one of those lessons about humility, acceptance, and gratefulness.