The mower blade sliced through more weeds than grass as I steered the John Deere around Mom’s garden plot Sunday afternoon down on the family farm. That I was mowing at all seemed a bit unnecessary to Mom, but the weeds were starting to make the place look a bit tacky.
With the front yard still showing the north-south path of the mower from a couple of weeks ago, complete with brown patches and one or two small areas of green growth, I promised to stick to the back half of the farm. It still took me two hours.
Two hours to listen to the mower, reminding me yet again that I really should invest in ear plugs. Two hours to think about nothing and everything; two hours to wish that life becomes more normal than it is.
And as I mowed along the garden, I thought about two seasons. We are in our second summer season without Dad; in our second summer season of attempting to grow the delicious sweet corn he was so well known for among his faithful customers. In our second summer season, we have failed once again.
Last month, one of my brothers went through the sweet corn patch with a mower and mowed it all down. The corn was little more than knee-high and it was clear it wasn’t going to produce those tasty ears filled with sweet yellow and white kernels.
Last year, the sweet corn crop was planted in too-wet soil and met the same fate. This year provided a near-perfect spring, and yet the corn crop looked terrible. Mom says the garden needs fertilizer. She said that last year, too. All of us kids have been told, but nobody gets the fertilizer. It’s obvious, things fall through the cracks when Dad isn’t there to do it himself.
Other areas of the garden appear to be producing an all-or-nothing crop. We’ve already had our fill of asparagus and rhubarb, and she’s currently picking tomatoes and green beans, with the bounty taking up more counter and refrigerator space than she can spare.
The cucumbers should have been plentiful this year, but apparently Peapod — the neighbor’s peacock who took up residence on our farm in the fall of 2018 — has an affinity for the plants. He obliterated the cucumber vines, leaving a fairly slim potential for pickle wannabes to be picked.
Peapod is also being blamed for the disappearing sweet pea and carrot crops, although Mom said the rows might just as easily have been destroyed by the deer.
Still, there are pockets of bounty. The gardener has toiled and plucked, and enjoyed the fruits of her labor. And since this gardener is Mom, she has also shared her wealth with us kids — a bevy of veggies filling zippered gallon-, quart- and pint-sized bags.
As I steered that lawnmower around the garden, I thought we kids need to do better next year. We need to get some fertilizer for that plot and tend to the land like our Dad would have. That way, when someone asks if we have some of that delicious sweet corn our dad always sold on the corner, we can say with pride that yes, and it’s going to be a good crop.
Perhaps we should also build that fence.