It will not go down as a fondly-remembered gardening year.
It started with my left Â hand in a cast until mid-May, by which time the weeds had quite taken over, and for a month there, I didn’t have the pinch strength to pull even the least of them from wet ground or to use any garden tool very two-handedly.
By mid-June, though, it was beginning to look rather nice, with three cattle panels on T-posts to hold Goose Beans, another couple for the Romas and bell peppers, and a half-dozen 5-foot-tall tomato cages, with the empty spot coming up in buckwheat for the pollinators to enjoy.
Then the rains stopped and the insect pests started. Digital control (pinching squishy yellow bean beetle larvae) got harder, then broke down entirely the week we were in Saint Louis. We have a garden of laced leaves on the beans and dead ones on the blighted tomatoes. It’s a sad sight.
In a normally watered summer, we’d have had a lot more tomatoes to ripen. The Mortgage Lifters only started showing good health and fruiting in late July. Same for the Amish Paste, a variety we will plant again, and try to get an earlier start. They are hanging heavy with cluster of firm oval green fruits. Many green tomatoes now will stay green since the leaves have blighted.
But I remember our old trick: bring the green ones in, wrap each in newspaper, leave in a dark cool place. And many will ripen over the coming weeks and months–not as tasty as sun-ripened, but better than tossing them into the compost bin.
We will have put away maybe four canners full of tomatoes, only one of green beans, and that is pathetic compared to a good year of 30-40 quarts of beans canned. It’s a mighty small return for the countless hours of work that goes into a garden. And yet, those hour’s pay was from more than produce. One could spend their time doing less rewarding things, even if the canning shelves are sadly bare in September.