The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gardening, Year 2

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, you couldn't stop the tomatoes if you tried. Just about any summer vegetable thrived in the pleasant planting weather then subsequent steady summer sun.

However, the fruit trees were bare. An early thaw in February caused the trees to bud, only to be re-frozen as the winter returned. The onslaught of the Japanese Beetles combined with birds made sure there was nary a grape to be had in the land.

This year, spring vegetables were outstanding. We took a chance and planted way before the frost date, knowing in our bones another frost was not going to happen. We planted an early crop of spinach, potatoes, lettuce and peas, and they all produced famously. We expected the summer to continue in like fashion, but it was not to be had. Tomatoes stumbled to a weak harvest. Peppers were interrupted by some parched days and have only now started to recover (better management on our part would have helped). The broccoli bolted. Cute lil cucumber beetles ransacked our pumpkins, cukes and gourds. Basil, however, could not be stopped. Carrots and beets did just fine, too.

Then all of a sudden, there was fruit! Peaches were falling off the trees, a little unripe but sweet and juicy. We picked them early to beat the squirrels to them. A couple of baskets of grapes were picked, which Erin made into jelly (we lost much of it in the power outage). Then we discovered an old apple tree! Small but great tasting apples right out of the backyard! A little pruning and that tree may have a lot of fruit left in it to give.

I never had much hope for the fruit. In my grandma's yard growing up, there was a virtual orchard of trees, but if my dad didn't spray them, you would be hard pressed to find any fruit that wasn't absolutely invaded with insects. I once picked a couple pecks of small apples that my mom got me to sell to Nolan's grocery store in Garrettsville. The good hearted owner bought them off of me, knowing he couldn't make a dime off of them. We'd go into the store in the days and weeks to follow, and I'd see my little apples still sitting there, untouched. Nowadays, local, fresh produce would be appealing to consumers, but at the time they looked so pale and sickly next to the robust commercial fruit. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Erin's unsprayed, organic trees yielding edible fruit.

Berry bushes and asparagus have been planted this year and last, so hopefully it won't be long before they start yielding, as well.

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