altAs I have written previously, I’m not much of a gardener, but each year I try my hand at growing something. Some years are good; others, not so much.

My “garden” consists of old mineral tubs and a couple of old washing machine tubs. I don’t baby my plants, but I don’t neglect them either. I also don’t have to weed nearly as much, which is always a plus.

From four tomato plants last year, I supplied just about everyone I know with tomatoes, and canned salsa and sauces until I had no more room to store it, then I started giving that away too. A neighbor also had a great crop, and he would send his extras home with Bill and I’d can those up too and send the finished product back. I canned so much that my canning jar stash ran low and I had to buy jars a couple of times, and friends I had given things to earlier in the year were sending back empty jars for me to refill. The only solid weekend plans I made last summer were with my canner.

When the first freeze was coming, I bet I picked three bushel baskets of green tomatoes from my four plants. Everyone was thrilled when I offered green tomatoes because it was so late in the season. By this time, I was sick of the sight and smell of tomatoes and was ready to put the canner back on the shelf.

This year, however, has been a rough one for plants at the Crawford place.

Something ate my pepper plants the day after I planted them, something killed two tomato plats right off the bat, and my jalapenos turned out to be banana peppers.

I replanted tomatoes and got some habanero peppers. Next day, two of the four habanero plants were dug up and gone, and my two older tomato plants were damaged. Bill tried to blame our two geriatric barn cats for the destruction, but it had to be a something like a possum or a raccoon, or maybe even an armadillo.

After a little TLC, the tomatoes were starting to perk up, and the younger plants were thriving, then came the bugs. Those pesky Japanese beetles can do a lot of damage in a short time. Once I spotted them, it was as if they were on everything. I don’t know how many cans of Sevin dust I have gone through this year, but there have been times when my back yard looked like a talcum powder factory exploded.

Just when I thought my season was saved and I had tons of little tomatoes on my plants, root rot hit. Last year I complained about watering every day, but this year too much rain was a crop killer.

The only things left growing are the habaneros and the banana peppers, but they aren’t producing anything, so I expect a 100 percent crop failure for the 2019 season. I should pull up the remnants of my plants and dump the soil from my tubs, but it’s like I’m holding out hope; hope that is withering like the vines of my tomato plants. There’s always next year.

When you pencil it out, it actually costs me more to grow, process and preserve my tub garden produce than if I just buy a jar of this or that when I need it, but growing and canning it myself is kind of fun, and I am always humbled when someone says what I have grown is the best they have ever had.

While my friends and neighbors won’t be getting any of my “famous” salsa this year, I’m hoping the fall will bring me a bounty of fall fruits I can make into jams and jellies, but again it’s a waiting game.

That’s what agriculture is – a waiting game. We have to wait and see what the weather is, how the markets are and if crops grow.

Farmers and rancher have the patience of Job because there’s nothing “fast” about our industry. If you want to get rich quick, then farming and ranching isn’t for you; it’s a long, tedious process just to break even.

Farmers are also the eternal optimists because maintaining an optimistic outlook through is the only way to get through things like droughts, floods, broken equipment and sick livestock.

Farmers know better than anyone that there’s always next year.


Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected].


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