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Hartselle Enquirer

How to beat inflation

By Clif Knight

The supply of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables from a backyard garden is reaching its peak. We can think of no better way to fight the rising cost of food than growing, harvesting and preparing your own for the dinner table. If you’re not a gardener, the next best option for you is to make regular visits to Hartselle Farmers Market for fruits and vegetables that are picked fresh and offered at reasonable prices.

A backyard garden is in progress at our home and is surviving the heat and dry weather with the help of occasional irrigation. An inch or more of rain each week between now and the end of harvest would be very helpful. Our objective is to provide veggies for four families and cucumbers and tomatoes for pickling and canning.

Of course, living in a natural habitat for wild varmints such as raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, birds and a lone deer presents another challenge. I gave up growing corn three or four years ago because coons climbed up the stalks, rode them to the ground and ate the ears. A couple of scarecrows have kept birds from digging up pea seed as soon as they sprout and start coming out of the ground. The latest thief is a full-grown deer who shows up in the garden after a rain and eats the buds of okra and tomato plants.

Volunteer blackberry vines are a newcomer to the garden. They moved in and took over a corner of the garden a year ago in a battle with honey sucker vines, but had no berries. They are covered with berries this year. I’ve been picking a handful at a time and eating them. I’ll be able to pick enough to make a blackberry cobbler pie next week. Harvesting fruit from a vine that does not require fertilizer or special care is a gardener’s gift.

The Farmers Market is located on South Sparkman Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon. Fruits and vegetables available include blackberries, peaches, cantaloupes, watermelons, green beans, field peas, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, field peas, sweet corn, okra, onions, potatoes and peppers. Quantities on some items are limited and are usually sold out by mid-morning. Early shopping is encouraged.