Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

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For the past 25 years or so, my husband and I have been planting our garden on Memorial Day. It's perfect -- past the chance of a frost, usually great weather, and a third day added to the weekend. That gives us plenty of time to get it accomplished without interfering with our regular weekend stuff.

Not so much this year. This year, the calendar has slipped a notch or two. The middle of May looked and felt like the middle of March. So the fact that we planted our seeds kind of late really shouldn't matter.

Not last year, but the year before we tried starting out with seeds. That didn't work out too well.

Well actually, it worked out great, but too early. The plants were ready to go in the ground by the end of March. Yeah, that's not happening in Northeastern Ohio. Then they started dying in those little bitty cups. We had to start all over.

But it was at least warmer by then so we could start them outside. That's when we learned that the puppy, Bo, was intent on putting the kibosh to us having a garden altogether. Something had bashed up our little planted cups. I blamed it on the neighbor's cat until I saw Bo jumping straight up onto the picnic table.

He actually helped with the cherry tomatoes. I had a mess of seeds in a former ice cream bucket that just weren't doing anything. Then Bo "aerated" the soil, digging in it with tiny paws and the next thing you know the little plants were everywhere.

This year we bought one of those seed starter kits -- that's for the cherries, beefsteaks, bell peppers and jalapeƱos. Then we got a bag of potting soil, some cheap Styrofoam cups and seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, green peppers, beets, beans, peas, cucumbers, radishes and turnips.

The turnips were an accident. On the package, radishes and turnips look about the same. I just got the wrong one the first time. That's OK, we planted them. They're coming up like gangbusters, too. I don't even know what you do with a turnip, but if we get a mess of them, I guess I'll find out.

The peas, beans, cukes, beets and radishes are all kicking butt, too. I took a count the other day of what plants we have and figured out we'll need to buy a few things. I planted a dozen of each of the tomatoes and peppers. I have seven cherries and 16 beefsteaks. I have 14 bell peppers and five jalapeƱos.

It's like the magic hot dog/hamburger buns at my house. After the first couple of times they "switched" on me, I started being more careful at the grocery store. Making sure I bought the right ones. And it never fails, at the end of the week, I've got two pounds of hamburger and three packs of hot dog buns. Or two packages of kielbasa and one package of hamburger buns. I don't know how this happens. I don't know why it happens repeatedly.

Anyway, we may need to get a few plants to supplement what we've got and maybe give away a couple of beefsteaks.

Hopefully, we won't have to buy the black canvas stuff again this year. This will be its third year, if it makes it. I thought about stretching it out in the yard to see how it looks, but figured I may as well wait and stretch it out in the garden once it's tilled.

Which our oldest son couldn't get to until he made a depth stake for the tiller. No biggie. Our plants are about one to three inches high right now. Well, except for the peas and beans. They just went nuts.

I remember growing a bean plant as a school project in the third grade. Heck, the dog could grow a bean plant.

Our son got the tiller fixed the other night and decided to get busy with it. Fine with me. We can do the garden in shifts. Till one day, put down the black stuff next, then put in the plants as they get big enough.

And then my plans hit a brick wall. I didn't hear the tiller running anymore and looked out back. It was sitting in the garden, but he was nowhere to be seen. He told me later we need to see about borrowing a tiller and added "We're lucky that thing didn't catch on fire."

Well, if it did, it would have burned itself to the ground because the garden is about 300 feet from the house and way out of range of the hose. So lucky for it, I guess.

All I have to say is Mother Nature needs to pony up for giving us a lousy spring and let summer last clear through November.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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