As the end of summer is heralded by Labor Day Weekend, I look back at the short time I had cultivating my garden. I do it every year however this year seemed special. I felt closer to my dad than I ever had in years. Simple because everything I did do, people were reminded of him.
He was an avid gardener, farm boy at heart, cook, photographer, videographer and traveller. It’s been 14 years since he passed. I took over his garden the year that he died. It produced so much I was giving away bags. This year I had so much produce, I gave many bags away to my neighbors. One neighbor relayed a sweet memory she had of my dad.
When she was young, her dad was in the kitchen eating tomatoes that my dad had given him from his yard that year. She hated tomatoes and every time her dad said she should try some, she flat out refused. He didn’t cave in to her demands but told her that she had to eat them or else. So she did try them and from that moment on, she loved tomatoes. My dad’s tomatoes changed her hatred of them. She became a big time tomato lover and was overjoyed to get some from me. Yes, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
I planted twelve varieties of tomatoes. I chronicled those varieties on my Instagram. (Video homage posted below). Many pepper plants which included bell peppers: green, yellow and purple. Habaneros, jalapeños and long green peppers. Green beans, carrots, radishes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts (still waiting on those, fighting aphids), cucumbers (small numbers – something attacked my plants this year), eggplants and herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, dill and mint. My mint is overgrown but still under control and a great attractor of pollinators. I also planted corn. I’ve battled bugs before however the corn was pretty stable and successful. I think my dad was watching over it since it was under the birdhouse he constructed. He used to love planting lots of corn and sunflowers. Yep I planted lots of flowers too: sunflowers, morning glory (a new blue variety), violas, petunias, vincas, sweet peas, bachelor’s buttons, carnations, marigolds, wildflowers, lily of the valley and yellow roses. I think next year I’ll be at the farmer’s market in my neighborhood. 😀
The hydrangea bushes and the butterfly bushes attracted many butterflies. I also managed to make many bird friends by putting up bird suets too. Although we have a new cat on the block and he’s determined to catch one of them so they haven’t been around at least not when he’s hiding under the fir tree hoping to catch one. There was also my encounter with the rats of Chicago. As I watering one evening, relaxing in the peaceful quiet of dusk, two rats came zipping through the yard from the alley. One of them head butted my ankle and kept on going through the garden and down the gangway. It happened another time, that time the rat jumped through my sweet peas.
I’ve gotten several visits from bunnies early on. They liked to nibble on the sprouts and greens. Many bean sprouts died during those times and my sunflower sprouts barely survived the onslaught! And if you’re wondering about Mr. Squirrel, he did do damage early on. We had a long frozen stinky moment in the gangway – looking at each other as in – I know you! He dug up many of my transplanted seedlings in the pots. What pray tell was he doing? Transplanting his prized possession – a half empty walnut shell. My seedlings did survive, well most of them, and he finally stopped.
Last weekend I had to cut down and harvest the last of my corn. I miss the stalks already. The rustling of the long leaves in the wind and seeing all those ears ripening. My daughter said that we were the only ones with a corn field in probably all of Chicago. I’m sure there are other patches of corn in the Chi. I should hope so! More pics of my garden life can be seen on Flickr: Chicago Summer 2017 and Instagram: @photoschmoto. And, yes I’m already planning on next year. Can’t wait!