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So How Did the Garden Grow?

August 6, 2022

Another Way for week of July 29, 2022

So How Did the Garden Grow?

A vacation is not a vacation unless there is a home to come home to. And if you garden, the first thing you want to know is, how did the garden do?

Gardens in May or June look so nice.

I promise not to write any more columns this summer about vacations, but after our two-week trip out west we were greeted back home by a garden that looked like it had never been touched by a human hand. Tomato vines had grown by two feet, astray between rows. I had diligently tied them up on stakes as is our practice but it didn’t look like they’d ever been touched. Potato bugs had returned: I thought I had them under control, too, before we left. Our young pole bean plants: lost in an array of weeds. My husband despaired of ever finding the pole beans amidst the weeds.

This isn’t this year’s garden but a photo would have been much the same.

Weeds were everywhere. How could everything grow this much in two weeks? Not to mention the flower bed in front of our house. (Note to self: do not plan a vacation for two weeks in the middle of summer. August or June, may be ok, depending on the season and where you live.) But this summer, we have been richly blessed by frequent rains. Praise be! So far. August may be the cooker in terms of drying up the soil.

But little by little, as I told my husband we would, we made progress in cleaning up the garden.

Then came a sharp fierce wind and rain that felled three rows of sweet corn. Would they recover? Time would tell.

So sad, frustrating, and pitiful: corn laying over after a storm.

Then there was another windstorm, and things looked sad for a while, but the corn is popping back up. The pole beans are wending their way up Stuart’s strings and are chest height now … and of course the bean beetles have returned, just waiting to have their ornery chance at the beans. The sun beats down and coaxes the tomatoes to ripen beautifully.

Gardens are hard hard work. Someone has to care for them, nurture them, get rid of pests, pick the produce (which isn’t all that easy either when you’re 70). And then there is canning or freezing the abundance. We also enjoy taking extra produce to the retirement home where we exercise in its nice pool. Our friends there enjoy the free veggies and we love watching folks go for the green (cucumbers) and red (tomatoes).   

Each morning, the garden beckons. I first pick all the cucumbers, look for any tomatoes that have ripened, and then search for bugs on the potato vines. If it’s not too hot, I will keep going with killing bean beetles. This year especially, we prepare for winter knowing there could be sky high inflation and trucking firms who fail to get everyone’s groceries through.

Daughter Tanya on a long ago trip to Niagara Falls.

But the morning also reminds me of my mother’s faithful music coming from her garden, or the kitchen sink. I try to imitate her: “My God I thank thee who has made the earth so bright; so full of splendor and of joy, beauty and light; so many glorious things are here, noble and right.” Adelaide Proctor’s beautiful hymn from 1858 still works for me.

I sing the second verse: “I thank thee too that thou hast made joy to abound; so many gentle thoughts and deeds circling us round; that in the darkest spot of earth, some love is found.”

Amen and amen. Mom’s 98th birthday would have been this weekend. We miss her, but the memory of her lilting music lifting me up remains.


What foods do you like to buy fresh out of a garden or farmer’s market or local produce stand?

Hymns you like to hum or warble that remind you of your father, mother, grandma …

Or other comments? Share here or on Facebook or write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication. 

  1. My Grandma Cline always had a huge garden in Goshen. I remember visiting and Grandpa would pay us a nickel for every potato bug we caught. We California youngsters were in hog heaven over that! Grandma always gardened with a huge, floppy hat and nylons on her arms to protect them from the sun.
    Thanks for the gardening memories. I’m glad yours survived your vacation – even as the weeds blossomed into abundance.

  2. A nickel for each potato bug is a lot of money! Way to go Goshen Grandpa. I like that Grandma covered arms with nylons. Oh my, but I’m sure my grandma did too.

    I so wish I had taken before vacation/after vacation garden photos, but to be honest, I couldn’t bear to when it was at it’s worst. Not that it is August and I must also work in canning stuff from the garden, I can’t be too fussy about a weed here or there. Thanks for your sharing!

  3. Gardens grew on both sides of my family: the Longeneckers and the Metzlers always had gardens. We Beamans tried a garden behind our first house and got beans and tomatoes. At our second home, there were too many tall trees for a garden to flourish.

    We sang “This is My Father’s World” at Aunt Ruthie’s funeral because she loved growing all kinds of things. I believe she enjoyed being outside more than doing housework, especially cleaning. Mother loved her garden and regretted when she got too old to handle it any more.

    P.S. I believe you will have a better harvest than you imagine right now, Melodie. Probably we can expect a follow-up here. Blessings on the bounty! 😀

  4. Oh we are having a harvest all right!! Plentiful. Took some shareables to church this morning, which is always fun. The rain has been coming in just the right doses, we are very thankful. Many summers I spend a lot of time watering, haven’t even had to do that except very early in the season! Hoping to enjoy corn on the cob later this week.

    The beauty of “This is My Father’s World” for your Aunt Ruthie’s funeral was a great idea! I can’t say I love gardening more than inside work, but its another great song to accompany garden work.
    Blessings, Melodie

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