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And how does your garden grow?

And how does your garden grow?

My gardening experience consists of digging holes in the same dirt I use year after year, inserting either seeds or little plants I’ve purchased and sitting back, waiting to see what happens. I do water — and weed.

Last year, after an interminable period of cold and darkness, I found myself overcome with an ebullient optimism. This was going to be my year to turn my garden into an area worthy of acclaim.

The greenhouse offers huge carts for the unwary shopper. Carts as large as a small car begging to be filled to overflowing with all the goodies on display. I pushed happily up and down the aisles. What should I select?

Begonias are a must for they flower nonstop in the large window box I can see and enjoy throughout each day. While the colors may vary (though not by much), I’ve never found anything else that pleases me more. Greens? Of course though definitely not the lovely green and white flowing ivy I selected two years ago. I suspect it’s no longer sold. It shouldn’t be for it’s become a major pest. Escaping from the window box when my eyes were turned, it has taken over the herb and flower gardens below, growing so quickly and strenuously that it will climb under the siding if I don’t keep digging it out. I’ll never get all those roots. Buyers beware!

That’s not a problem for my vegetable garden. I plant the eyes of potatoes early — some of them do grow. And red lettuce will return, like it or not. I do. Honestly, anything I can harvest tastes so much better. I feel a definite pride in being able to walk out the door and know I’m bringing in something I did myself. (With a lot of heavenly help, of course.)

Chives and parsley are in the herb garden and, as I was warned, my mint threatens the plot where I encourage strawberries. Sage only died this past winter. There, year after year, I really never figured out too much to do with it so that area is now filled with hyacinths. Spring flowers are a blessing. (By the time the lilies of the valley and lilacs bloom, while I love the smells, I get too busy to even pick.)

So back to my time at the garden store. Tomatoes? I treasured a potted cherry tomato which produced all summer long. Few appear in my garden and, honestly, I think even the cherry ones would be cheaper at the store. (It isn’t the same though, is it?)

Anyone around here can grow zucchini, which is why I have so many good recipes just waiting. Well, I can’t. I will count on friends or the farmers’ markets.

Why not go wild? Who knows? That optimistic ebullience remained.

Along with a few disasters (never appearing or, if they did, amounting to much), I dug rows of eggplants and watermelons. Do they even grow around here? The heck with “here” which generally means Fredonia and Dunkirk (where the greenhouses prosper as well). What about Cassadaga?

Both acted like they liked it here and were pleased with my attention. “Attention” meaning little beyond the obligatory watering which I confess brings me pleasure in itself. Do I need an excuse to linger outside as the evening shadows creep in? Perhaps I do.

Six “Black Beauty Eggplants” filled a row along the northern edge of the middle of my three modest plots. Funny — no harvest recorded though harvest I did: three small eggplants which were a lovely shade of bronze. I kept waiting for an eggplant color to appear. It never did.

Beets were very successful, though quite a bloody mess if cut before boiled and skinned. We ate many and I froze even more. I like beets. (And the eggplants made a large casserole of moussaka, a little still left in the freezer.)

Two cucumbers appeared — late. “Don’t bother to do this again,” I noted. “I don’t even like them.”

I planted peppers and vaguely recall seeing a few — and feeling pride at being able to slice them for salads.

Then there were the watermelons. Two grew — from six transplants. Well, that’s good for me, but they were tiny. And, like the eggplant which was delicious, I kept hoping if I waited long enough they’d grow up.

No way. Perhaps four or five inches in diameter, once picked they sat on the kitchen counter’till I was convinced they weren’t going to grow any more. Would they be edible? You bet!

This season I promise to fertilize and try to use some of that compost I keep adding to and let’s see what wonders appear.

Spring and summer are full of so many dreams.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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