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Chalk up 2016 as a tough year in the garden

Chalk up 2016 as a tough year in the garden
Front Porch: The bear didn't get my garden, but rabbits, weeds and disease did!

An old saying you hear frequently here sitting on the front porch is that "some days you get the bear, and some days he gets you." Or one week you sell a $5,000 gilt and the next week the boar that sired her dies. You get the picture.

My battles with gardening are legendary. I’ve expanded gardens, moved gardens, shrunk gardens and even sold the rototiller so I wouldn’t be tempted. Yes, I went back to gardening. 

The garden is small. It started out as a 10-by-20-foot patch. Each year it creeps out a little bigger.

WEED PATCH: Are there vegetables in there? Truth is there were a few — very few!

Then this year came along. That crazy old bear that gets everybody one day or another didn’t get my garden. What did my garden in this year was pesky rabbits, too much rain, too many weeds, more critters and diseases.

Tough start

One year ago rabbits lived in a big brush pile 20 feet from my garden. I burned the brush pile last fall. More limbs fell over the winter, so I restarted it, but it was much smaller. I decided to plant cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower again.

“Those rabbits will be back, and they will eat off your plants again,” said my wife, Carla.

“No, I think they moved somewhere else. Besides, I’m going to dust the plants so they won’t want to eat them.”

I hate it when Carla is right. Another family of rabbits decided even this smaller brush pile looked like the Holiday Inn. The dust did keep them off — until it rained.

Within two weeks my garden was cabbage-less, without broccoli — you get the picture. This time they even attacked the pepper plants.

Everybody can grow zucchini — except me. Two years ago I tried zucchini on the new garden spot. They grew vines, and then the vines died. Everything you read says it’s calcium deficiency. I tested the soil. There was plenty of calcium.

I tried again last year and they bloomed, but I didn’t get any zucchini. This year I got one zucchini. It didn’t go far chopped up in a mixed vegetable dish.

Tough finish

I planted green beans the last week of May. I was expecting green beans by the Fourth of July. I still didn’t have green beans by the fourth of August. Finally I got enough for a mess. Perhaps nothing is as good as fresh green beans, new potatoes and smoked sausage cooked together. And it was good. Of course, we had to buy the potatoes and the sausage.

I started with 20 tomato plants. A few actually produced tomatoes. By that time, though, they were hidden by weeds growing well out of control. I gave up on the weeds when the pull cord on my "toy" rototiller broke. (Yes, I bought another one, but it was cheap. If you buy cheap, the bear definitely gets you.)

Between disease and critters, maybe those rabbits again, eating on tomatoes, I’ve harvested enough for a couple rounds of bacon and tomato sandwiches.

Add up the cost of seeds and such, value the produce harvested, and I’m pretty sure buying vegetables at the store is cheaper.

Maybe it’s time I swore off gardening again. Carla says she will believe it when she sees it.

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