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Fighting a losing battle

The topsy-turvy weather pattern we’ve been in this spring has been a real troublemaker for home gardeners.

A few days of unseasonably warm days in March raised the prospect for an early spring and sent growers to their fields with fertilizer, seed and cultivating tools. I was part of that group of early-bird gardeners. I went whole hog with the planting of potatoes, tomatoes, squash, corn and cucumbers.

Unfortunately, the squash and cucumbers didn’t make it out of the ground and had to be replanted much later. Only about 20 percent of the potatoes came up. The tomatoes survived only because I covered them on three separate occasions to prevent them from being killed by frost.

Alternating periods of rain in April and part of May kept further plans for gardening on the back burner.

Meanwhile, weeds and grass responded with record-breaking speed and intensity. The garden had to be cleaned out and re-cultivated before further planting could begin in late May.

Daylight was in sight when family vacation plans intervened in the first week of May. My choice to join the family put the garden into another holding pattern.

The resumption of rain showers while I was away from home left the weeds and grass growing at will, while the young cucumber and okra plants were begging for attention.

I was reminded just how wet the soil in my garden was last week when I attempted to pick squash. My feet sunk four inches in the ground when I stepped on it. It was so bad I lost my shoes and had to rescue them in sock feet.

I hope the ground will dry out in time for me to grow and harvest a fall garden. I still have the fertilizer and seed to plant more cucumbers and okra, along with field peas and green beans.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the Hartselle Farmers Market this week with a good supply of home-grown squash, weather permitting. The tomatoes are growing fast and will be ripe and ready for the market in a couple of weeks.

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