Where I grew up was solidly suburban and a local farm stand was not to be found for 50 miles. That didn’t bother us any since my dad had the biggest garden in the neighborhood. With the exception of a patch of grass and a few shade trees along the perimeter, the entire backyard was devoted to his vegetables. The early summer began with sugar snap peas followed by green beans. A few weeks later a prolific number of tomatoes of all varieties began to ripen. There was summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant. My mom made roasted red peppers, pesto with home-grown basil, ratatouille, and gazpacho. At the end of the season, she prepared the leftovers for freezing and pickling so nothing would go to waste.
Years after my parents passed away, we moved about 100 miles away from where we grew up. How fun and rewarding it would be to plant my own small garden in our new yard! I gather some tools and buy some plants at the local nursery. I pick a nice spot to begin turning over the soil and removing the weeds. The first drive of the shovel seems to hit a rock. No worries, I’ll work around it. I keep plunging the shovel into the ground with the same result. The ground is hard and rocky, not at all like the sandy soil of my youth. Frustrated, I decide to deploy my secret weapon, a pick-axe wielding spouse.
Several hours of effort follow, preparing the soil and planting my small garden. At sunset we reward our labor with a tall, icy cocktail, however, our self-congratulations are not long-lived. What I failed to realize is that we have moved to the “country”, and in the woodlands, there is wildlife. Within days my seedlings are reduced to nubs. The deer, rabbits, and groundhog have eaten their way from one end to the other, leaving a path of destruction to remind us of the time and money we spent to feed them.
On the bright side, we have several farm stands nearby that sell local produce so off I go to buy some.