The Practice Garden

       If you ate today, thank a farmer!

        Today I am thankful for farmers because I am realizing  how much work  is put into producing a zucchini,  green beans, or potatoes.   You become a little more grateful for each bite of food when you try to plant your own garden.   Even if you have no interest in gardening, you might want to read this so your next bite of food is just a little more meaningful.
      We have had small backyard gardens at our city house, but never anything as grand as the garden we put in this year at our farm house.  My husband calls it our “practice garden.”   

        We chose an area that had formerly been a horse pasture thinking we might have some good seasoning already in the soil.  It also had some shade which might help in our extremely hot Kansas summers.

       The before picture, and yes our dog does have a tee-shirt on him.  I think we were trying to do something silly like keep him clean.  We have given up on that!  

The pasture was plowed in April and we started putting up fencing to keep the deer and bunnies out and gates to get the truck and tractor in. 

This picture was taken on May 1st as little sprouts begin to emerge.  

        This picture was taken a week later and the garden still looks manageable.   Corn, beans, pumpkin, watermelon, and cucumbers  are popping up  slowly.  Tomatoes, peppers and onions are planted.  We’re feeling pretty good.  This big organic garden was our eldest son’s idea and here he is fighting weeds  with us on a Saturday in May.

         But then the rain came and lots of sunshine and before we knew it our garden looked like this.

       By June 25th our garden is looking more like a pasture again and it is hard to keep up with the weeding.
         When we got to the garden on July 9th the weeds were so high we lost our yellow lab in them when he laid down.  It was beyond pulling time. It was weed whacking time.  It was discouraging, hot and miserable. 
        After a few morning hours of work, we sat in the shade along the fence line to rest and as we looked across the garden, we saw a blue bird on the opposite fence.  And then we saw another one.  I didn’t have my camera with me to capture the moment, but it meant so much to me.  God knew we were tired, hot and overwhelmed and so he sent two small birds to cheer us up.
       Here is what the garden looks like currently.  Our sweet potatoes and corn are doing great, but . . .
    . . .   to date we have lost half our potato plants, all our beans, and most of the red beets.   The deer and bunny problems we anticipated have not happened perhaps due to the abundance of corn fields around us and natural predators.   We have harvested three zucchinis, a small basket of golf ball size potatoes,  and a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes. We have also lost one bee-hive. 
       “My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”  
                                                                                   Brenda Schoepp 


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