Planting a Lot of Work

On Saturday June 6th the whole family helped put the garden in. It may sound insane to wait so long to plant a garden but the general rule in the higher elevations of the Black Hills and especially the Custer area, is not to plant anything at least until June first. Late frosts are not uncommon around here. Unfortunately we have a very short growing season here for which the area has a bad reputation for. I wouldn’t doubt we hold the record for the shortest growing season in the country.
To begin our seed sowing, my husband worked up the soil with what we call the rodeo tiller because it’s so old and hard to handle. It bucks and jerks all over and I let my husband be in charge of it. Last fall we tilled in 12 commercial size garbage bags of leaves from my mom’s trees. They’d broken down so well over the winter that I couldn’t see any leaves. My husband said the ground broke up easily and didn’t take long to till.
To make our perfectly aligned rows, we needed markers and string but didn’t have either one. We had the kids gather up enough broken tree limbs and sticks and found another use for baling twine—marking rows. We had lots of it and it did the job perfectly. The kids partnered up with a parent and everybody planted and watered the seeds. Since I didn’t have any tomato or green pepper plants purchased when we planted, we didn’t get them in the ground until the following day.
The next morning, our electronic temperature gauge read exactly 32 degrees. When I told my husband about it in a disgusted tone, he tried to be optimistic and said, “But it wasn’t that cold on those tomato plants, that’s just up here at the house.” I didn’t feel any better but there wasn’t anything I could do at that point. Amazingly, his made up theory was right and when I checked the plants none were black and shriveled up.
So now the whining will commence because watering the garden is a time consuming job that the kids don’t especially like to do, even though they love eating gobs of sweet corn or all sweet peas before leaving the garden. It’s a messy job packing the muddy hose back and forth which I tend to complain about also, when my clean clothes get wet and muddy.
Some days having a garden can seem like a big waste of time. The danger of frost, bugs, animals, and hail make it hard for produce to survive. Then there’s having to make time to water and pull weeds. Everything about a garden takes an effort, but the excitement over the first ripened vegetable and the luscious taste of sweet corn, tomatoes, beans and peas make it all worth it. I’m still learning that a good garden comes to those who maintain persistence, patience and check the night’s forecast.

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