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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: She doesn't do weeds

© Another Day in the Country

Like the housecleaner who comes to clean up your messes and announces, “I don’t do windows,” my sister, who caretakes everything when I am gone declared, “I don’t do weeds.”  She did do some weeds while I was gone but didn’t want my expectations to be too high upon my return.

She’s always a busy woman, but when I’m gone, her load doubles.  During the beginning of summer she had the huge 4th of July event to choreograph in Ramona, our B&B to keep running, holding Ramona steady as City Clerk and taking care of half a dozen yards. There’s no time for pulling weeds.  There is only time to attend to the basics.

Before I left for California, I tried to get everything in tip-top shape — weeds pulled, gardens and beds mulched, hoses laid out for easy access.  I knew this was going to be a lot of extra work for her, and I wanted to make it as easy as possible.

Gardens are a lot of work.  I’m sure if you weighed the hours, the cost of seed, the price of water (if you are on a metered system), the fertilizer, the insect control and all that stuff, your home grown veggies are fairly expensive!  (But they taste so good, right?) Maybe, like my sister, instead of cultivating a garden in her backyard she’d rather “cultivate” the local truck farmers.  For some reason, their cantaloupes are always more tasty than any I’ve grown. 

When I got back from California, I went searching for the plants I’d purchased at the school plant sale marked “watermelon.”  I usually leave watermelon growing to our friendly farmers, but this year I thought, “Why not? I have room.”

I’d also planted bird nest gourds a couple of weeks before I headed west. (If I get enough, they’re destined for a school art project.) Those gourds were doing better than anything when I returned.  “What’s with those gourds?” my sister asked.  “They are going everywhere!”

Gourds will be gourds. There were gourds where the watermelon had been planted, gourds in the cucumber cages—big gourds (oops, that one’s actually a huge cucumber!) and gourds heading for the tomatoes.  I’d planted these gourds as an afterthought, on the edge of the garden and hoped they’d head for the road, not the tomatoes.  Search as I might, I found no watermelon growing in my garden. Instead I found cantaloupe, long overdue for picking, running rampant through that section of garden.

“Gardeners should stay home in the summer,” says my “yard caretaker” as she watches me struggle with weeds.  She’s right. Gardening and traveling are counter-productive.

I dug the potatoes yesterday. “Were you pleased with your yield?” my sister asked. I was glad that there were any potatoes at all, frankly.  I went straight into the house and cooked a batch of the tiniest ones for potatoes and creamed peas — it’s traditional.

There are so many things about gardening that are traditional.  My mother always waited until we came for vacation to dig the potatoes on their Oregon farm.  I loved digging potatoes and the yield was always tremendous.  Mom would also tent one of her blueberry bushes so the birds couldn’t eat them and we could pick them when we came to visit.  I do some of the same.  I plant beans that I think will be ready for picking when my kids are here. They love tomatoes and cucumbers. I’m planning ahead; but you know my kids are leery of Kansas gardens and just yards in general.

The chiggers apparently lay in wait for tender California skin to appear in town. Jana lessens the impact by spraying her feet and not walking on grass.

“I’d help you dig those potatoes,” she says, “but I’d have to have protection: covered from head to toe, boots, headgear — like she was going into a hazardous environment.  So much for spending another day in the country.

Last modified Aug. 7, 2014

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