I Come to the Garden Alone

Another few weeks and Ann will be threatening me with my life if I bring in another five gallon bucket of tomatoes or beans or squash.

This is a statement of faith, as anything can happen in love, war or summer gardens.

Today, I’m going to anchor down the tomato cages, having learned from freak windstorms in years past that five foot tall fruit-laden plants are quite top-heavy. There’s nothing quite so sickening as to go out after the storm has passed and find a dozen wire cages on their sides, the soil littered with a hundred green tomatoes.

What I’ll do first though, before any gardening this morning, is take this aggravating dog out and run some of the mischief out of her. She won’t leave me alone, and has resorted to fetching undergarments from the washroom and trash from the waste baskets to get my attention. She’s got it.

Having my daughter’s equal-sized pup over the weekend of the 4th, I now know what level of play-energy Gandy is capable of sustaining–for hours at a time–and my puny rope toss and tugging matches don’t touch her reserve capacity for play.

Not unattractive–if they just didn’t like to eat the same things I do.

Gardening pests this year: not so bad. Cucumber beetles and squash bugs seem to be controlled by kaolin spray (a kind of clay–imagine chalk dust) and I got ahead of the bean beetles (fingers crossed) and the Japanese beetles (pictured here on a totally ravaged ornamental cherry taken while I was waiting on a tire repair in Christiansburg yesterday) have only nibbled my beans.

I hear the whining: Fragments has become all gardening all of the time. Trust me–there is much more going on in my life just now, but the garden does not generate stress, require agendas or have committee meetings, so it is my wilderness refugium of choice.

Please close the gate behind you as you leave.

[Larger garden panorama is at Flickr. Click to view]

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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. Since I am unable to have a garden of my own this year I totally enjoy hearing about yours, Fred. I just wish we lived closer so we could share some of those tomatoes. 🙂

  2. Nothing wrong with being “all about gardening” – especially at this time of the year! I have to re-think my vacation time as I always leave when fruit and veg are really making an impression… sigh…