I want to start this entry by saying that I love gardening. I have been gardening for at least 60 years. My dad said I got my love of gardening from my uncle. Dad had big gardens because we needed the food. But my uncle would plant a tomato plant with the same tender care that a loving mother uses when she puts her baby to bed. I aspire to that standard. The best part of a new year is not the New Year’s Eve celebration, but the new seed catalogs. That’s when I start planning and dreaming about how to do it better this year.
Now that I have said all that, I have to talk about the realities of gardening. For the three years before I came to Big Ugly, my gardens were destroyed by cows. Even though my gardens were fenced in, those cows climbed over the fences and destroyed everything. I thought coming to Big Ugly was going to be so sweet, since there were no cows around to wipe out all the beautiful produce and hard work. Folks here told me that last year we had a bit of a dry spell, but aside from that the gardening was good. I also learned about Grow Appalachia and how it could help with some of the necessary inputs for the garden. I jumped on that as quickly as I could. I was delighted that there was this really cool tiller that I could borrow and greenhouse that was being restored to use. Grow Appalachia even helped me build a deer fence to protect my garden from damage. I was so looking forward to fresh produce and the joy of gardening when I could get some help with inputs.
I didn’t expect too much from this first year garden, since I was not able to start this garden in the fall. I didn’t arrive here until late winter, so I missed the optimal time for starting the garden. Normally in the fall I try to begin improving the soil with organic material. But the soil test showed that the mineral content of my garden was good even though the texture of the soil was clay.
The spring rains came. And came and came. We thought we would never get into our gardens. We were able to harvest some spring crops and then the weather turned dreadfully hot. It was still humid and the rains continued. The Toney’s garden flooded and they lost a lot of their garden. My garden now looks like blight is taking over. I worked hard on the garden, but Marcelle worked even harder on hers and her tomatoes are beginning to show blight. Much of her corn never germinated because of the wet soil. Frank and his wife run a commercial greenhouse and they are seeing the worst results in years, despite their hard work and many years of experience. We are all feeling discouraged and at a loss for where to go from here. Gardening is hard work, even for those of us who love it. Seeing that hard work come to naught, is even harder.
I believe that I will be looking at those seed catalogs this winter with renewed hope and faith. But I can certainly understand if others just throw up their hands and say “What’s the use?”