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The garden is a labor of live
judi tabler bw mug

Oh Oh. It’s that time again. Fred has planted THE annual garden. I have helped very little. It’s his project.
Fred loves to garden. It’s wonderful. He plants, weeds, and waters. I eat. I figure out ways to make different recipes, and we share our bounty as it begins to produce.
I say, “Oh Oh” because, well ... the garden is WORK. And like a child, it needs to be maintained regularly; watered, cultivated, and fed.
You see, this annual garden is a live thing. It has a personality. It has a vibe.
Let me describe it to you. I will pace it off.
The size has increased every year but at this time it is 55 feet long, and about 25’wide.
Because of a growing population of very bold deer, the plot needed a fence to protect it. The fence is about 4 ½ feet high. Deer can leap over the fence if they want to, but the presence of the barrier has kept them out, so far.
I also say “Oh Oh” because the garden ties us down more than if there were no garden. And because it must be watered, if we wish to go on a vacation, we must find “sitters” for the garden. Even with the best “sitters”, it is hard to leave when the garden is producing. Therefore, the garden, like a child, is also a RESPONSIBILITY.
At this time, the garden is looking quite lush. But, it won’t produce summer crops for a while yet.
Fred has planted and nurtured over 20 tomato plants, a long 54’ row of potatoes, 3 rows of onions, 2 rows of different varieties of cabbage, a row of cucumber plants, zuchinni and spaghetti squash plants, green peppers, hot peppers, and okra.
Why so many tomato plants, you ask?
Got me!
Basically, Fred loves to buy plants and tenderly place them into the ground. He is a true gardener. Just recently, he noticed one of the tomato plants was not thriving. It was puny.
He asked me to buy another plant if I saw one, so that he could plant it in the place where the runt tomato plant is growing.
I bought a plant. Fred carried the little thing to the garden, and when he returned, he said, “I couldn’t do it.”
“What”? I replied.
“That little stunted tomato plant is still alive and has a tiny green tomato on it. I couldn’t pull it up!”
What did you do with the new plant?
“I planted it by the lettuce, since the lettuce is almost done for the season.”
He couldn’t quite pull the trigger. So, that little crippled tomato plant will get another chance, and the new guy is living in an another location next to the now dried up lettuce.
We are going to reap much more product than we need. I can or freeze tomatoes, and I give away plenty. But there are now wayyyyy too many tomato plants if they all produce.
Fred has suggested I open a stand on the road where we live. I can see it now. Big sign. (like in Arkansas or Missouri). “STOP HERE. FRESH GARDEN VEGGIES!”
I imagine myself setting up a folding chair next to a card table, wearing a floppy hat, while sipping tea at the edge of the road. Maybe I can sell lemonade too.
I figure that I can make about $1 an hour after I pick the product, wash it, package it, and sit out on the road for hours waiting for some merciful saint to stop. Oh I know, I can have an honor system, but then I would need to erect a shed or basic shelter of some kind.
No, I will just set up my card table.
In the meantime, here’s a simple recipe for cabbage I make when I am tired of slaw and salads. It’s yummy. You can add sliced Kielbasa if you wish to make this a meal.

6 slices bacon (keep bacon grease)
Olive oil (if needed)
1 large onion diced
Minced garlic to taste (I am generous with this spice. We like garlic)
Large head of cabbage, sliced and diced
1 T. salt, 1 t. pepper.
Fry bacon until almost crisp, add onion, garlic. Simmer a minute or so.
Add cabbage and salt and pepper. Saute and stir until cabbage is tender crisp just to your liking and getting brown.

I will let you know when I open my roadside stand. I will only be there when I have a surplus. You will have to move quickly though because probably after the first day, I just might retire! You will know me by the floppy hat.

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at Visit her website