Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Retirement

This post is the official notice of my retirement from vegetable gardening. Actually it's more of an final admission of defeat. I surrender. Yes, the weeds have finally won. Forty-five years of relentless conflict and they have totally worn me down. I quit. That's it.


















It had all began those many years ago. Just married, we rented a small house in the country. The landlord said there was a small plot I could use for a garden in the back yard. Although being a totally naive big city boy in the ways of gardening, I thought "what the heck why not.With the encouragement of my new bride I planted a few crops. Some proved to be quite successfull. Others were, shall we say, a little unusual. Like the J-hooked onions that came up. Actually they weren't a new variety.... I had planted them all upside down. Or the rhubarb seedlings I had nurtured.... they turned out to be an ugly weed called burdock. Oh yes, I couldn't tell the crops from the weeds at first. And there were always plenty of the later. They were relentless.
Then there was the garden in the country where we bought our first house on three acres. The garden there grew and grew in size. I dug it all out by hand. Apparently rototillers hadn't been invented yet. The weeds followed me there as well. And I added to that crop by fertillizing with fresh horse manure from a neighboring farm. It turned out horses eat a lot of weeds and the seeds remain viable to spread new generations of their kind.

Yet each winter, looking out upon the bleak landscape, hope would spring eternal. A fresh start. A new garden. I became a true gardener.


















Once upon returning from flyfishing trip to Montana with my brother I found all the carrots gone. It seems my volunteer garden substitute, Mrs T, had weeded them all out. Apparently she hadn't realized that weeds generally don't grow in neat rows. And the blistered hands from hoeing. And the frustration. In more recent years each time we left to spend a few weeks with the grandchildren in far away Colorado, I would meticulously remove every visible weed before we left. Then return to find the enemy everywhere overpowering my hapless little seedlings.

I had tried everything in addition to sweat equity. Newpapers, mulch, even old carpets. Last year my frustration turned to desperation. I had learned from a resident "master gardener" that weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for hundreds of years, only to spring to life upon exposure to light and moisture. Finally I had deserted my every moral and guideing principles. I turned to something called ROUNDUP.
It worked. With a minimum of effort it killed all the weeds, as well as stunting all my tomatoes, peppers, beans etc. In addition I was contributing to the degredation of the environment. What a disaster. Embarrased, humbled, even looking guilty in front of my gardening friends, I resolved then and there to leave the field of battle. Finis. The End.
p.s. Life goes on though. My big native wildflower project continues. More trees, shrubs and flowers have been planted. There is less grass to mow. More birds and big and small creatures of the woods to enjoy. It is truely a labor of love for me. Each year I see fewer and fewer of those pesky weeds. I don't miss them at all. btw.... we'll be visiting lots of farmers market this summer for those delicious home grown veggies. And it doesn't hurt at all that the Amish ladies bake wonderful pies. Life is good.
Troutbirder

Foot note: My woodland flower gardens.


23 comments:

  1. Lovely post! I gave up the weed battle years ago.......they can share the space with my roses and tomatoes. Gave up on other veggies the year I planted zucchini and went away for 2 weeks .......returned to find a monster 2 feet long lunging at me from the plot......made lots of zucchini bread and swore off planting veggies.

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  2. I loved your story and laughed all the way through it. I can truly relate to it. I can’t wait to see more photos and stories about your wildflowers. What a fun post!

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  3. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers can all be found at the local farmer's market. No reason to spend life picking weeds when we can pay someone else to do all the dirty work. And I love the woodland garden!

    Take care,
    lph

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  4. It turns out weeds are tougher than almost all of us. I've given up everything but he tomatoes. You can't buy the old heirloom varieties, not here anyway.
    Marnie

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  5. I on the other hand, being young and naive will continue the battle with the weeds, I have to, it's in my blood, LOL. Awesome post, and I can truly see myself making a similar one in the distant future, LOL. But for now, someone has grow those veggies for the markets....

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  6. Great post! Those weeds are pretty tenacious. Your post made me smile.

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  7. My husband bought one of those Mantis tillers several years back. He loves the thing so much that he has taken over the vegetable gardening. I did all that before, but I like growing flowers better. But my husband is a meticulous weeder as well as tiller of the soil. I'd rather keep some of the weeds and have him actually pick the vegetables and cook them than have rows of plants with clean soil in between the rows. Vegetables are to be eaten, but he hasn't gotten that message yet.

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  8. Absolutely perfect. Moving into the shade also prohibits much vegetable growing!! ;-) But oh, those wildflowers! I'm sure you're seeing plenty these days.

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  9. Lots of ways to garden my friend :)

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  10. LOL!! I think you echo what hundreds of us feel TB. Those nastees always seem to have the upper hand. At one time I even went so far as to put down a concrete slap, build a 4' wall around it and fill it up with "fresh" soil and guess what, they popped up there too. LOL!!

    No, I agree with you, veggie gardening is for the birds ... or is it for the weeds? :)

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  11. How about just one Topsy Turvy upside down tomato planter?

    What a perfectly delightful post, just what I needed for this "can't sleep" night.

    A woodland flower garden -- can't get better than that. And I agree with you about the pies baked by Amish ladies. Delish!

    donna

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  12. Enjoy your retirement. Look at it this way; you'll be supporting other, local gardeners. :)
    My mom's boyfriend inadvertanly burned up my first veggie patch (JUST as it was ready to pick,) so I gave up after that. Where we live now NOTHING will grow unless it was here before us...except our ligustrums, which have survived, but not grown.

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  13. Congratulations on coming to your senses! I tried gardening once and gave it up when each tomato turned out to cost more than a dollar, not counting my labor. Farmers' markets are the answer. I now grow only native plants (including many weeds!), some of which get eaten by rabbits and squirrels, but never mind, I head to the woods to enjoy the beauty I don't have to lift a finger to create.

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  14. I loved this post. I decided I'm helping the economy and environment much more by buying from our local farmers.

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  15. I have always enjoyed your woodland flowers so maybe your should just enjoy it. So I am on your side if you are taking votes.

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  16. LOLOLOL! Those weeds! Followed you! I fully understand! You fought a valiant fight, and now, surrender is the noble thing to do. ;c)

    I love the wildflowers more anyhow, and they WILL choke out the weeds!

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  17. How interesting to read your post...change must be in the air..I just told the other half a week ago..the gardens goes this year..not so much because of weeds but just ALL the work and $ of maintenance. I probably did a better job of keeping the soil in tiptop shape than harvesting great veggies. I just bought two Winterberry bushes and was wondering where to plant them...and suddenly I knew exactly where. All that perfect soil I grew over the last several decades..I just knew I was preparing it for some grand event..and now I know. Those Winterberrys will bring in the birds with all their orange berries come late winter!!
    Thanks for making me feel like I'm doing the right thing..just when everyone else is planting due to the economy I was walking the other way..good to know another educator/retiree is doing the same!

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  18. Lovely post. I have great respect for anyone that gardens successfully.

    My mom is a great gardener, unfortunately that is something I never inherited. I can't even keep a houseplant. LOL.

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  19. Kia ora TB,
    I wish you a happy retirement!
    Cheers,
    Robb

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  20. Come on over and look at my post today and let me know what you think?
    As to gardening? Well. I'm just so glad I live on sandy loam now instead of the yellow clay of my youth!

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  21. One man's weed is another man's meal or medicine and great for hosting butterflies and other beneficials. If you think about it that way, those nasty weeds don't seem so intimidating. Summer veggie gardening isn't much fun in Florida, and I've shrunk my growing space this year by about 25 square feet. Like you said, there are plenty of fresh veggies to be found at the farmers' markets.

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  22. Hilarious post, thanks for the stories. Good luck with your wildflower & woodland gardening. I grew up with a huge garden and Mrs Rover & I had good gardens while back East, but the climate here has been a good excuse for other pursuits.

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