At this time of the summer, I would have been busy with the pressure cooker and preserving garden products. I would have been canning and freezing corn and beans. There would be red beets and cabbage to eat and put away.
But this year is different for me. I am trying to empty my freezers and fruit cellar shelves. My life is changing drastically; I don’t eat very much. Most of my life I went to the cellar and freezer to get most of my food for my table. I did not even know a tenth of what could be bought in the grocery store. I was taking produce to the farmers market but now I actually went to see what I could bring home. It is about as fresh as when we go out to our own garden.
For the last two years I have encouraged other families to plant, cultivate, harvest and preserve the beans and corn. I have found several interested in planting but little did they realize the amount of work it takes to keep the garden clean which then makes it harder to harvest. They say, “It looks so easy when you do it.” We who have been doing this for years realize that it might take ten seeds to get one to grow or several plantings to get a row. Then there are the weeds that look like the plants and some with little thorns that seem to jump out at you. How about the rodents and animals that seem to think they are entitled to make a feast even before we think the produce is ready? One sure conversation among gardeners is, “How do you defeat the crows?” Then if you are lucky you might even share the garden space with a snake, even a timber rattle snake. It takes a cool head to realize the snake does not want to encounter us even more than we as we jump back in a startled moment.
The interesting thing that most of us forget is that gardening is usually a very short time to get so much food. A few people start gardening in April but more wait until May. Most of the harvest is in by October. I have even seen gardens plowed under by the middle of September. There are some who stretch the gardening from March through Christmas. Some produce like broccoli and cauliflower as well as greens actually do better in the fall rather than the summer.
So if you visit the farmers market on Thursday evening or stop at one of the vegetable stands along the road, be sure to show your appreciation that there are those willing to take the time to raise the produce and make it possible for you to buy it.