Garden of Close Quarters mirrors family life

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Steve LaRue, Groundhog Hill

I have seven older siblings. That’s right, seven. At times, they are all annoying and bossy ... and older.

When we gather for meals around Dad’s kitchen table, it’s like squeezing sardines in a can. Close quarters.

Speaking of close quarters, I planted two rows of Peruvian purple corn much too close to one another. Ditto, two rows of zinnia.

I am fully aware of these quasi-planting errors.

When the inevitable buses full of Bourbon Trail tourists stop by Groundhog Hill next month, I am hopeful these non-relations will notice how well I corrected these errors in the other rows (which are nicely spaced apart) and thereby praise me.

My brother John once remarked that were Marie LaRue, our paternal grandmother, in charge of the garden at Groundhog Hill, she would make sure that there wasn’t a single blade of grass growing amongst the corn, sunflowers, green beans, zinnias or marigolds.

I have yet to figure out how she would perform this miracle (which is probably for the best as I would then have little to write about each week). His point, though, is that our grandmother could maintain a nicer garden than me. He’s not wrong, and that’s annoying.

I do have one tool at my disposal that my talented grandmother, whom we call Ma, did not: A Weedeater.

The other morning, I weed-eated my corn between pop-up thunderstorms. That’s right. I attacked the Johnson grass and the crabgrass with fiery abandon. Felt great.

There’s no way I’m getting in there with a hoe and digging out all that grass. My opponent is too strong and too determined, so once again, I concede victory.

No need to call the trainer for an injury timeout. I give. You win again, seeds.

Have I mentioned that the garden, for the third year in a row, will not be perfect?

The week you till and plant in early May, that’s the time of perfection. From there on, the battles commence: Man vs. Weeds, Man vs. The Elements, Man vs. Man’s Sore Back, and so forth.

Speaking of weeds, a new player has entered the game: Pennsylvania smart weed. It’s not unattractive and sort of basil-like, however, smart weed would taste terribly on pizza.

Also, my old non-friends, the Japanese beetles have returned for another summer to dine at the zinnia buffet where it’s all-you-can-eat. And, they do.

The zinnias have started to bloom in earnest, and the J-Beetles are munching furiously on their leaves. All the marigolds are finally starting to bloom, as well, so I am hopeful their perfume will drive these ravenous bugs to Harold’s garden and beyond.

So, other than bossy older siblings, leaf-eating bugs, and crabgrass, all is well at the cramped garden at Groundhog Hill.

More later……

(To see more photos of the garden, check out www.groundhoghill.wordpress.com.)