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Lessons Learned in the Garden

Lessons Learned in the Garden

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Jodie Fuller
Jody Fuller
By Jody Fuller

I’ve often said that one can tell how old a woman is by the number of Cool-Whip bowls she has in her kitchen cabinets and how old a man is by the number of 5-gallon buckets he has in and around his house. Well, I have a whole bunch of both and am well beyond my age in bucket years.

I’m using the bulk of the buckets for my garden. Bucketwise, I have tomatoes, peppers, and okra, oh my! In fact, I have 17 buckets of peppers, nine buckets of tomatoes, and four buckets of “okry,” as many of us say around here. I have plants of each in raised beds, too. I’m going to have enough for my own farmers’ market when all is said and done.

I also have cucumbers and squash, but they have required some extra TLC. Initially, I planted too many cucumbers in the same bed. I replanted one on the opposite side of the yard and within no time, it was growing like a vine. Only one of the plants from the original bed was producing, so just this week, I moved the other two into the bed on the opposite side of the yard. We shall see how that goes.

I had room there, because I pulled up my beets and carrots, both of which will not make the cut next year. Some people like beets; I get that. Some people like Alabama football, too. I don’t. No matter how you try to fancy them up, in the end, beets taste like dirt. My carrots were tiny and I don’t really care for carrots as a main vegetable anyway.

Squash vine borers decimated my summer squash. They were doing so well and producing beautiful fruit until one day, they all began to wilt. Eggs from the pest hatch and the larvae bore into the center of the stems to feed, blocking the flow of water to the rest of the plant. I was upset, because I love squash, but a lesson was learned. Originally, I grew everything from seeds, but since I lost the squash, I had no choice but to buy small replacement plants.
If my watermelons continue to grow, I’m going to have to throw them into the back of a pickup and go park on a county road somewhere. I’m real proud of them. I actually only have three of any size at all, but I’m hoping for the best.

Rabbits and chipmunks haven’t been able to eat the bucket crops but they have done some damage to my beds. I don’t think there’s much I can do about the chipmunks and their holey ways, but I did put chicken wire up around one of the beds. I don’t think the Little Rascals could’ve done a finer job. It turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, so I decided to put the chicken wire along the holes and gaps in my privacy fence. It might not keep them out forever, but it’ll at least slow them down—unless I trapped some of them within the friendly confines of my backyard.
I saw a gigantic rabbit the next day that looked as if it had taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque. Fortunately, it was on the other side of the fence, but I’m fairly certain it had spent some time feasting in my back yard.

I planted way too much of everything. As a first time gardener, I have learned a lot. Trials and errors have been plentiful, which I fully expected. With the lessons learned this year, next year should yield much better results, in the garden and in life.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, visit jodyfuller.com.