All of my adult life I have planted a small family garden in the backyard. We normally plant tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers. I have occasionally planted corn and beans, but have had no great luck with them.
I love a garden most when all the work is done and I can stand in front of it and look at the neat, weedless rows of plants; all of them green and growing. The soil is still loose and fresh from tilling.
But as the summer progresses, the weeds begin to grow, the soil becomes packed, and some of the plants begin to show signs of stress. So, I put on my gardening clothes and shoes, get out my tiller and till again between the rows, being careful not to till up the plants. I get down on my hands and knees and pull out the weeds that seem to grow purposely intwined in my plants. I fertilize the plants that are struggling and then I water everything. All this is done in the heat of a summer day.
When the work is completed, I stand again tired, covered in dirt and sweat, in front of my garden looking at its renewed newness, filled with a sense of joy and love. That is the only way that I can explain it. That is my only justification for spending my time in this way. I love my garden.
The reward for this work are vegetables that are soon ready for picking. There is nothing better than a tomato sandwich made from a tomato just picked from the garden.
The saddest time of gardening is in September when I am hoping against hope, but my plants continue to fade, the vegetables are few, and the weeds are almost unweedable. I know the end is near.
I close my garden in October. I pull up all the stakes and pull up the plants that are now dead and diseased and dispose of them. A sad ending to a glorious beginning.
But a true gardener lives in the promise of the year to come; when the soil is freshly tilled, and all plants are green. And everything is growing in neatly planted, weed-free rows.
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