Gardening in the fertile soils of the Red River Valley was another enriching and fulfilling recreation hobby in the spring, summer and fall of 2019.
Every year the weather favors some vegetables and fruits more than others but really everything seeded or transplanted this year produced.
Gardening was engrained in many of us after farm childhoods where large gardens were needed to feed big families. There was lots of competition around the Beyer table with four brothers, two sisters plus Mom and Dad.
The Park Board offers public gardens along the Red River/North Kidder Recreation Area and along 11th Street North. We encourage continuing interest as 20-foot by 60-foot plots are only $15/year with $5 returned if cleaned by mid-October. For many of us, one plot is not enough!
Gardening produces natural, wholesome and healthy food. Nothing beats the taste of fresh produce from your own plants.
Kale is a favorite and a salad is prepared every meal with something else – honey berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, gooseberries or whatever is in season. We planted kale in an elevated planter on our deck which was convenient but they do not develop the root systems and subsequent large leaf foliage.
We are grateful for gardening/farming friends and got much kale from Harold-Carol Formaneck, peas from Jean Gulden and sweet corn from Mark Matejcek.
Grilled vegetable medleys are savored and each vegetable adds its own unique taste. Wife Joan does a wonderful job mixing eggplant, peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, beets, broccoli and more on aluminum foil. Olive oil coats the surface to prevent charring and the vegetables soften in their own juices.
Gardening is a family affair and we love to harvest produce for the girls. Daughter Britt’s favorite is green beans so they are picked and frozen in quart-size bags that will be delivered at Thanksgiving. We’ve had good luck with purple beans that magically turn green when they are blanched. Daughter Kayla loves the frozen sweet corn with Dad’s venison sausage.
Gardening offers many health benefits. It is mentally nourishing immersed in a sunny outdoors. Gardening provides a physical workout that is a great cross-training day for runners. An old-fashioned hoe is used to weed the garden on a weekly basis. It is best to attack weeds before they get too big and the best time is to hoe the topsoil to keep it black. Some gardeners like neighbor Barb Smith are smart and mulch with grass clippings to reduce maintenance.
There are studies that show gardening’s positive effects on happiness, stress relief, health, brain stimulus, better sleeping, friendships, chronic pain and combating diseases like dementia, heart ailments, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Some even feel the soil microorganisms help people, so wiping off those young carrots and munching them is a good thing.
Carrot and beet root crops were phenomenal. We thin our rows by pulling a few during the growing season for summer meals. Large onions grew on top of the ground.
There are nasty Colorado potato beetles that attack our potatoes and eggplant, but they are squeezed to bug heaven nearly every day and we are pleased with our red potato tubers already dug. We anxiously await digging out sweet potatoes that are a treat and will be productive based on healthy vine growth.
Artichoke are producing heavily and this Mediterranean thistle is a favorite. It can easily be heated in a microwave but be sure to wet it.
Muskmelon was plentiful and once again all 16 fruits ripened in about the same day. They last a while refrigerated. They have been followed by sweet red-pulp watermelons.
The cool weather did not favor tomatoes but a few plants are plenty for an aging couple. Joan has frozen many tomato soup packages and it is already good soup-sandwich weather!
Neighbors had to lock their vehicles again during a productive zucchini season but that’s OK because nothing beats Joan’s zucchini-chocolate chip bread.
Brussels sprouts are filling out superbly and these mini-cabbages are mighty tasty when baked with other vegetables.
Gardening makes every meal a special occasion. I cannot pedal my fat-tire bike fast enough to get home each noon to be nourished by goodies from Mother Earth!