In our September garden, we grow the best weeds in the Midwest.
The hubs and I nurtured this elite crop all summer. Yet — can you believe this? — no one awarded us a grand champion ribbon.
Last spring, my husband, risking vitality and vertebrae, rented a tank-like tiller to prepare the soil. We planted the highest quality vegetable seeds and plants. Why? They attract the highest quality weeds.
I fertilized the garden, nurturing early weed development. Hubby shoveled mulch between rows, providing moisture.
With this year’s bullying June rains, I feared our weed crop would float downriver. But despite such watery adversity, they grew strong.
At first, the dastardly efforts of vegetables and flowers were winning. Rain morphed scrawny tomato seedlings into scary green monsters. Lettuce, carrots and peppers crowded out crabgrass and ragweed. Berry bushes actually produced berries.
Insidious squash vines crushed the life out of purslane and poison ivy. Squash — a fitting name for such invaders, don’t you think?
But squash aggression could not match barbaric cucumbers that wound deadly vines around helpless clover and cockleburs. They even turned against their allies, the zinnias, hanging fat-bellied cucumbers around the zinnias’ skinny necks like fifty-pound pendants!
Cucumber reproduction surpassed that of rabbits. I fled through nightmares in which thousands of cucumbers chased me, finally pickling me in a giant Ball jar.
Fortunately, other allies supported the weeds. After record-breaking rains, July drought sucked out the vegetables’ fighting spirit. The brave weeds, however, persevered.
Area animals also came to the weeds’ rescue. Deer sacrificially forsook hundreds of acres of wild food to munch our garden’s green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Bunnies wiped out berries, saving us from the sad necessity of eating them. Squirrels stole cherry tomatoes. As they could not carry Big Boys in their mouths, they contributed by taking one bite out of all they could reach.
I did question the knee-high weeds’ newest allies: chiggers. But what are a few thousand itchy bumps compared with the joys of paying high prices for store-bought vegetables that taste like Styrofoam?
Despite trials and tribulations, we weed-growers will never give up. When hostile vegetables and flowers multiply, we enjoy the deep-down satisfaction of giving our all to cultivate the finest crop this side of Green Acres.
Even if we receive no purple ribbon — not even a participation one — to hang on our wall.
Even if we never see our picture in the paper.
We will not lose hope.
There is always next year.
Which won your garden battle this year? The veggies or the weeds?