Harvest Time

Published 1:31 pm Monday, August 23, 2010

One tomato, two tomato, three tomato, four-one is split and the others rotten to the core.

Now, here's the visual that goes with my rhyme-Me, in my muddy jeans, red clay-smeared T-shirt, and gunk-covered garden gloves, tossing my tomato harvest at a huge old oak tree in the backyard. SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT.

The tomatoes that weren't split or sporting black spot, were indeed rotten-thanks to the dear deer who insist on taste-testing each red globe they can reach over the fence. And, if it wasn't enough for them to sample each and every tomato, they follow their first course with a salad of leaves from my tomato vines.

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I GIVE UP. Yep, my gardening days are OVER. Been there, done that, and all I get in return are ground hogs fattened with my corn, little Bunny Foo-Foo devouring my lettuce and spinach, and chipmunks with onion breath.

My cantaloupe's been bugged and I caught my banana peppers curling. The strawberry plants I put out early this spring went underground. And, what started out as a good year for my beloved lavender plants went downhill a couple of weeks ago when they went into a scent-induced comma.

The only thing I've had any success with this year are GOURDS. Obviously, the critters in our area have not developed a taste for them. Oh, and I planted two rhubarb roots this spring and they thrived. So just what do you do with rhubarb, anyway? And, does anybody out there have a recipe for a rhubarb and gourd casserole? With cheese, please.

For years, I've tried to develop a symbiotic relationship with D. Garden. I've tilled-by hand and motorized. I've fenced-with and without electricity. I've fertilized-chemically and organically. I've weeded, mulched, and composted. Yet, D. Garden eludes even my most earnest and earthy efforts.

Now, that man-of-mine is even starting to question why my garden doesn't grow. In the past, he was too busy to notice but now that he's retired, he's offering play-by-play reports on how other gardens are doing.

Using the same investigative techniques he honed over decades of police work, he's begun questioning why my garden doesn't measure up to others he sees. No wonder Mary-Mary got contrary. Who wouldn't when people start questioning how your garden grows-or doesn't.

Maybe I should trade in my tiller. Wonder what I could get from a tiller trade-in with a really tired tiller. Probably KNOTT MUCH more than some silver bells and cockle shells.

But then, there are those few tomatoes that actually make it to the innards of a BLT sandwich or the salad bowl. Nothing could be finer than a homegrown mater between two slices of bread and real mayo. Trust me, there comes a time, usually after the Fourth of July, when white bread and a tomato just have to Duke it out, usually over a few slices of bacon or a slice of Havarti cheese.

Just when I'm ready to throw in the trowel, the hubby, dog, and I were making our laps in the bottom ground the other morning and that man-of-mine asked if I wanted him to re-till the garden area we have there.

Visions of collard greens and kale danced in my head. As much as my brain yelled NO WAY, my quest for D. Garden prevailed. And, hey, maybe, just maybe, D. Garden I've always longed for is within my grasp with the help of D. Man I've always hoped would pop that question.

Reckon there's any chance D. Deer and Bunny Foo-Foo will stay away? KNOTT MUCH.