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Susan Williamson – Joys of Summer

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For those who say gardening is too much work or too expensive or not cost effective—this week we had homegrown tomato cucumber salad, salsa, cucumbers in sour cream, cucumbers in vinegar, and fresh blueberries. Since early spring we have enjoyed wilted Swiss chard, fresh lettuce salads, green onions, spinach, radishes, a bit of kale, lots of basil, oregano, cilantro, roasted beets, pickled beets, tarragon, chives, mint, thyme and parsley.

This bounty was to be expected when we lived on ten acres, but now we live in a duplex. A senior living facility down the street had unused raised beds, built for the residents. The empty beds were available. Last year my husband and a friend put deer fencing around one of the beds. I bought a total of one basil plant, one Roma tomato plant, two pepper plants, a pound of onion bulbs, and seeds for Swiss chard, radish, zinnias, spinach, beet and lettuce. The cilantro came back from last year’s fallen seeds as did several tomato plants. The oregano and mint are ever present. I planted onions and lettuce last fall which we enjoyed before the spring crop arrived. I made a conscious choice not to plant beans or squash due to the hassle of watering—but thanks to the rain and only a few watering days, my summer crops continue to produce.

Early last spring we pulled up the nandina bushes beside our house and replaced them with blueberries dug fresh from the field in Bailey, North Carolina. A pot on our deck holds thyme, mint and basil. Tarragon, parsley and chives grow near the blueberries and the oregano threatens to take over the side bed.

I go to the garden daily now, because the cucumbers and tomatoes are growing so fast. My total labor per day is about fifteen minutes, not counting the time it takes to walk there with my dog.

I am not a tomato fan, although I do like to cook with them. But a slender fresh cucumber, just picked, with a side of cottage cheese is my favorite summer lunch. Last Saturday we visited the Williamsburg farmers market and walked home with peaches, bi-color corn, lettuce, a pepper, and best of all, a huge, sweet honeydew melon. Yum. Life is good.

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