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A lousy summer for gardeners

By Staff | Sep 18, 2009

This was not a good summer for the vegetable gardeners. With late spring turning into mild winter, the corn never had a chance. Neither did anything else. The calendar may have alleged otherwise, but this year we had April, April, October and October. That was summer.

Most of the corn produced half-cobs. It was the late spring, the cold summer, or swine flu. By mid-August, I thought we would get nothing. By September, even the half-cobs looked good.

With carrots in the grocery store going at 79 cents a pound, my fall crop will gross out at $3.97. From that we must deduct the cost of production. Of course, economics has never been a factor in vegetable gardening. It’s the pride of growing your own, reaffirming rugged individualism, proving you can survive without the government.

Even though it is not time to take in the watermelon, I know already that the crop is a failure. And this was going to be my big year for watermelon. I planted 14 hills and now have two anemic enlargements pretending to be the crop. And at the present pace, the two will not be ready for table display until November.

Then there were the rabbits. The weather had no deterring effect on them. They multiplied faster than a school kid in math hoping to be rewarded with early recess. A couple of years ago, I commented about arming myself to deal with these rodents. A kind-hearted lady in Mandan wrote to me and suggested that instead of shooting the critters I should just plant a little extra for them.

Well, I tried that, and it doesn’t work. This year, they spurned the lettuce and cleaned the tops off the beets. So there will be no beet pickles at our house for another year. Apparently, I need to provide the rabbits with menus before planting time so they will indicate what they plan to eat.

Instead of resorting to direct violence, I have asked the town board to put another dog on the payroll since Town Dog No. 1 has such bad arthritis that he can no longer get up enough speed to catch rabbits. That is the major reason rabbits have gotten out of hand.

Some folks who believe that there is some sort of justice in the climate have been speculating that we will be getting a mild winter as compensation for the cold summer but the Farmers’ Almanac is warning us that we should expect a wicked winter.

Editor Sandi Duncan said that the middle part of the country is going to be “very, very cold, very, very frigid, with a lot of snow.” But I have a friend who doesn’t believe it. He claims that the Farmers’ Almanac has been bought out by the flat world people who are using it to propagandize against global warming.

Most gardeners are upbeat in spite of the lousy summer. Wait until next year, they say. For some of us, that is no consolation. The odds are increasing that there will be no next year. Nevertheless, we might as well be positive and relish those half-cobs as best we can.

Omdahl is a UND professor emeritus in political science and a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota

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