Extreme Gardening – Nebraska Edition

You have to be a special kind of person to garden in the Great Plains; stubborn yet flexible, optimistic but cautious. The weather changes rapidly and oscillates between extremes. Wind, heat, frost, critters, weeds, and my own ambitious tendencies make it a challenging exercise to say the least. So, I took a few days off last week.

Lesson learned. Do NOT ignore the garden for consecutive days in July.

overgrown garden

The tomato-jungle is visible just behind the gourds and miniature corn. The gourds are even smothering the weeds on the edge of the garden….my well thought-out paths disappeared in a hurry!

The pumpkins declared war on…everything. The cucumbers staged a counter attack. I am not sure with which side the gourds are allied, so I have decided to carry a white flag next time I go out there. Kohlrabi have grown to the size of small pumpkins (the 4-H manual says that the ideal size for harvest and exhibition is around 2-3 inches in diameter….).

The peas that were supposed to stop producing in 90 degree weather did not stop….and I am scared to venture all the way over to the zucchini. Those things are prolific enough that I figure they will just fight their own way out and over to the house when they are ready.

I was pretty sure I planted the ‪‎tomato-jungle‬ far enough apart this year, but….*sigh*, where did I leave that machete? (Hopefully not near the pumpkins!)

zucchini plant

A zucchini in need of rescue from this overgrown area known as “Jill’s garden”.

The beans were calling for help but I did not have a weed whacker with me so I could not free them. I suspect the potatoes are digging tunnels under the garden fence but I will be waiting for them (muhahaha). I haven’t heard from the carrots, beets, or eggplant but when I got out the binoculars, they appear to have erected a buffalobur fence, so I think they are safe for now.

We planted brussel sprouts specifically to show at the county fair and not because anyone in this house wanted to eat them. Guess which veggie is the only one taking things slowly? They ensured their non-readiness for last week’s fair, and are determined to make us either eat them or hack them into small pieces for the compost pile. Tough call…I really do need to find that machete…. [Editor’s update: Middle son was selected to take vegetables to the state fair. Shhh…do not tell the brussel sprouts! If they continue their current growth curve, they will be perfect for that, um, opportunity.]

With the machete and a pair of leather gloves (have you seen the wimpy stuff sold in most catalogs as “gardening gloves”?!?) I am planning an expedition. The dog seems willing to go along for protection. Hubby has the weed whacker tuned up and the sons are on standby for a rescue mission, should it become necessary.

Anyone have a good guess as to the state of the garden after I leave the country for 15 days in August?

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About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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11 Responses to Extreme Gardening – Nebraska Edition

  1. That is so funny. We are having the same problems with wild gardens. I wrote a blog post about it yesterday to publish Friday. 🙂
    The veggies are SO good though–if we can find them!

  2. Lakes, aka Jeffrey says:

    Am I the only person on this planet that likes Brussel Sprouts??
    I love them.
    Grilled with olive oil and sea salt or even heated in a pan with some butter., Yum.
    I also love Lima beans & Beets and I am not afraid to admit it !!
    Our garden has been a big old MEH this year. The late spring and the fickle weather of June really did us in.
    No beets. No carrots. Minimal Peas. Peppers are super micro size.
    Tomatoes? I don’t even want to talk about it. Zucchini are doing okay. Smallish but lots of them.

    The fishing has been great though! ‘) Lots and lots of Walleye and Crappie.

    You have a talent for writing and photography Jill. We enjoy your blog.
    Take care

    • jheem says:

      You are too kind! If you want to make a road trip to Nebraska and help me tame this wild garden, I will gladly share tomatoes and whatever else 🙂

  3. redvalley says:

    Oh, how I chuckled at this! Every year I swear I will cut down on plant numbers and spacing, and every year I fail. Didn’t see a mention of melons, but wow can those things take over.

    I usually raise phenomenal peppers, but the guy who does our farming had the co-op spray some type of herbicide on the field corn that drifted and did a job on my peppers. Then we got hail. Frustrating year, but at least we’re getting rain! Football soon!

    • jheem says:

      Thanks Red! Glad to hear you are getting rain. I do have some melons but in one patch, I think the gourds must have eaten them and in the other patch…I harvested a cucumber.

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