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20 Cucumbers in the Trash Why We Are Just Not Gardening People
Between the lawn-mowing business I had during my childhood and the fact that my wife hails from Iowa, you’d think one of us would have a green thumb. The truth is we can’t produce a good crop to save our lives. And I really, really don’t like yard work. More often than not, it’s too exhausting for what little return we get. When I was growing up, neither of my parents were gardeners. I would often mow our lawn and have to listen to my father lecture me on the patches I missed in the yard. From junior high school to college, I would mow neighbors’ lawns for cash, earning a pretty nice income. Meanwhile, my wife grew up with farmers in Iowa. Her grandparents had an entire empty lot where they grew vegetables and fruits. Sadly, people would sneak into the garden and steal from them. It’s ironic because Keri’s grandfather was the type of man who would give away his crops to anyone who asked. Regardless, Keri never gained a green thumb. (So much for the Midwestern farmer’s daughter that the Beach Boys sang about.) Every year, we try to plant a crop or two in our garden box, and every year, we gain little for our efforts. Even the plants we were gifted aren’t producing anything! Our tomato plants offered a semblance of fruit, my blueberry bush has only provided two handfuls of blueberries, and our strawberries went to hell this year — much to the delighted squirrels who got a snack out of our misery. The only vegetable or fruit that we’ve had luck with are cucumbers, which is great. I love cucumbers! But the reason we were picking bushels of cucumbers was that unbeknownst to my wife and I, our daughter was fertilizing with Miracle-Gro every day. Essentially, she was
beefing up our garden operation with steroids, and we suddenly had more cucumbers than a family of non-gardeners knew what to do with. Bewildered by the output, it was the talk of the family. It was only then we discovered what she had been doing! When you’re expecting your yield to be terrible each year, it’s easy to get frazzled when one year you have cucumbers coming out the wazoo. There’s only so many things you can do with cucumbers, and we can’t preserve anything. Plus, everyone is growing cucumbers. Giving away our massive yield was nearly impossible. Despite our terrible luck with gardening and yard work, there is one crop that I will always spend a few hours tending to: huckleberries. I’m a fiend when it comes to huckleberries; I can’t get enough. One of my favorite meals is huckleberries with buckwheat pancakes. I will always put in the effort to find huckleberries if it means I get buckwheat pancakes. Every year, our family treks over near Cascade, Idaho, to pick huckleberries. It’s a very public patch, and it’s not a place that was passed down to us or anything like that. (We know how Idahoans get with their huckleberry spots.) But we get a sizable harvest each year out of the slow tedious process that is picking huckleberries. When our kids were younger, they were excited to go, and every year we get a solid 30–40 minutes of work out of them before they’re bored. But I’m there for the pancakes; I’ll keep working for that meal. It’s not like I have a booming garden to get back to at home. Might as well get something out of this harvest season, amiright?
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