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lamb's quarters, or fat hen, growing in Columbus, Ohio

(lamb’s quarters in the yard, growing better than just about every crop right now)

I just picked up a new book from the library today. The Joy of Foraging by Gary Lincoff. I sure hope that some foraging will bring me joy, because I’m down in the dumps about the garden right now.

First, the groundhog has moved into our yard, taking up residence under the shed. Actually, make that groundhogS. At least two. Thankfully, they seem to prefer weeds and clover, so I’m forgoing all weeding around the beds, concentrating only on the garden beds themselves. And if someone wants some mostly organic, free-range groundhog meat, come on over. I’m not joking, please send me an email.

Second, since our region has been hotter and drier than usual, I’m having trouble getting new seeds to sprout for second plantings of different crops. As a result, I have about 30 square feet of raised bed space just sitting vacant as I struggle to get something growing there.

Third, the (choice word) squash bugs, squash borers and cucumber beetles are waging war against my plans to grow food. I’m trying to get out daily to exact my revenge on them and their pretty copper eggs, but it feels like an uphill battle. I actually saw, and swatted at, the borer moth for the first time last week. It was fast and smart, and I did not win. As a result, I’ve been checking every plant to find out where its nasty little larvae have ended up. I’ve lost 5 baby zucchini and pumpkin plants, 3 zucchini plants that were just opening their first flowers and 3 leaves off of a mature zucchini plant whose stalk was too tough for the larvae to penetrate. Darren helped me control the borer population by squishing one of the larvae himself.

Fourth, a disease has hit the yard. It started with the bean plants in the backyard that were just beginning to produce beans and moved to the jack-o-lantern pumpkin plants planted at the beans’ feet. I’m finding the same patterns on other plants all around the yard, including both of the other patches of beans, the watermelon vine, zucchini, other pumpkins and cucumber. It starts with a pattern of tiny, light colored dots, almost like pixels, beginning around the larger veins of the leaves. Then the entire leaf starts to grow paler, then the leaf turns brown and falls off.

Thankfully, the kale and tomatoes seem to be going strong despite all of the predation in the yard. Oh, other than the one tomato plant whose roots are being eaten by termites. I’ll be harvesting an entire THREE tomatoes off of that plant this year, an heirloom Black Prince who cost me $1.49.

I’m off now to see what kind of joy Gary Lincoff might have to share with me.

Happy (sarcastic) gardening!

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