Garden Gate(d)

Don’t ask me how people do it with unprotected gardens in Floyd County. We’ve had to enclose ours in a stockade fence against the deer, and the place only lacks razor wire around the top or it would look like one of the human containment facilities the Agenda 21 folks are certain we’ll all live in one day.

The garden keeps me off the streets. I do a lot of sitting out there of late, having to water every living plant every other day or so. We are the inverse of last year’s inch of rain every three days. Now we lose that much water from the upper soil as quickly, and our grass crunches underfoot and the berries will be tough tasteless knots if we don’t get rain. Tomorrow. They say.

How does my garden grow, you ask? Well by all appearances, things are going as well as can be expected. In the race to the top, one heirloom bean plant is already above my head on the perimeter-wall cattle panels, and others close behind.

We have a few jalapeno-looking peppers of a variety called “Fooled You” because they are not hot, but I’m hoping will be more productive than California Wonder or other large bell peppers have been for us the past few years.

So far, knock on wood, no tomato diseases. I think we have about two dozen plants–Celebrity, Amish Paste, and some plum-shaped “cherry” tomatoes, plus a gaggle of volunteers of uncertain parentage that I left to grow in place where they dropped seed last year.

We have so little space in the garden (of about 25 x 40 feet) that there are only a dozen potato plants. You can see their lovely flowers in the image above (or larger, here at Flickr) and tell they are first cousins to tomatoes, also in the Nightshade family.

I regret to inform you that, this morning, with some mixed feelings, I zapped the growing paper globe  (grapefruit sized, yellow jackets I think) that was growing immediately overhead of the “thinking chair” in the garden shed, a place where I sit while waiting for the water barrel to fill up with creek water, or the wife to recompose herself after the latest housekeeping micromanagement infraction.

Although to have a stream of stinging insects fly down the back of my shirt might at times be a pleasant diversion. Kidding. Of course?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The beauty is, I can say outrageous things on the blog, and never worry about repercussions. Wife told me recently (in all honesty) that she did NOT know the name of my blog. After 12 years. Need I say more? (I most probably will anyway! : > }