Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Visiting with Gardeners – The Shoppers Weekly


By Julie Karmeier, Washington County Master Gardener

I have been gardening for years and have seen countless gardens and attended numerous garden tours, but I’m always amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of gardeners to make their garden a production facility as well as a work of art and showcase.

Nothing is more lovely than a well-kept vegetable garden with its abundance of fresh produce brought to the table — to say nothing of the money saved by growing your own. I recently spoke with some avid gardeners, and one grows only tomatoes because he wants to have the best tasting tomato he can possibly produce. He trades his tomatoes with other gardeners for their produce and he does well only growing tomatoes. He and I are going to compare tomatoes in the coming weeks to see if his soil amenities really do produce a better tasting tomato. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Another gardener has back problems and her husband used cattle feed bunks to make raised beds. The bunks are about the height of a base kitchen cabinet and measure 4’x48’. She says, “It’s a field.” They are currently raising garlic, onions, shallots, green beans, tomatoes, yellow neck squash, cucumbers, bok choy, radishes, kale, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and sugar snap peas. WOW, that’s a lot of produce, but it’s 48’ long. They let the tomatoes vine without staking as well as cucumbers and squash. The sugar snap peas are on a low trellis. It all works for this family.

Yet another gardener produces loads of produce in a very small space. However, every inch is in use throughout the growing season. Early crops of lettuce, onions, radishes, broccoli, and cabbage soon give way to tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and okra. In late July she plants her fall garden of broccoli, beets and carrots. A tremendous amount of food comes from that postage stamp size garden.

Some gardeners like to add interest and creativity to their garden. I found just that on a garden tour in Carlyle in 2019 before COVID. One gardener had a tall tree stump set up to look like a rustic house for fairies, gnomes, trolls — not sure, but it certainly caught my eye, so much so, that I took a picture and tucked it away for a day when I might have to take a tree down in my yard. That didn’t happen until last year when I lost my huge elm tree and that was a sad day, but now I had the opportunity to convert that wonderful old tree into something new. I’m sure the tree feller thought I was crazy, as well as my neighbors, asking him to cut the stump high and into a pitched roof, but he did a great job. It sat for a year and most of the bark, which was already loose when cut, came off.

There was no way that I could tackle this job by myself, so I enlisted my grandson to do the heavy lifting. A few weeks of planning and gathering materials and soon my fairy house came to life. It certainly has become a conversation piece and perhaps one of these is in your future.

If you have questions about gardening of any kind, please contact your local University of Illinois Extension office.

Pictured above: Fairy house from elm tree stump

The Shoppers Weekly

Picture of Shoppers Weekly

Shoppers Weekly

Sign up for our Newsletter

Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit