The summer brought a bounty. First there was yellow squash -- then zucchini. The deeper we got into June there were peas and corn, tomatoes and peppers. There were butterbeans and eggplant. And as June became July there was okra -- the most prolific vegetable of all. We still have to cut it three times a week.
Mostly there are weeds. And more weeds. And weeds on top of the weeds. Some of the weeds, which look strangely like grass, are knee high.
What was once a garden that took up half a city lot is now overgrown and demanding attention.
There is still eggplant in the garden beside my home on Broadway -- produce will grow under the bright lights of a big city. The peppers are producing nicely. There are still fresh bell peppers in the garden -- under the weeds -- and in the kitchen.
There are six jars of pepper sauce in the pantry -- and I could make six more tomorrow if I wished. I got really creative with the stuff toward the end, infusing rosemary and Cajun seasoning in the vinegar before pouring it into a vodka bottle full of jalapeno peppers.
One bottle -- my personal favorite -- is three parts vinegar and one part tequila. It sure seems to make the field peas happy when it hits them. And it really does taste good. Promise.
Now that summer is almost over, it's time to share what I learned in a season of gardening.
Friends and family make it better. There were about a dozen of us involved in the garden, and it became a great social outlet. Who knew a 10-hour work day meant 10 folks showing up, working really hard for an hour, then retiring for dinner and conversation?
My wife will work really hard in the garden, but even she has her limits when I bring in grilled squash, zucchini and okra for the 48th consecutive meal.
Dang watermelons. At one point we had nearly 100 watermelons in various forms of development cascading down a little incline. Then those three days of 105 and 106 degrees took care of that. I was able to cut three of them. The meat wasn't sweet. It was just one of those deals.
Dang okra. I would trade 1,000 to 1, the okra for a sweet juicy watermelon.
The best bargain in this city may very well be what we pay for water. We kept that garden wet even on the hottest days and our water bill never went through the roof. It spiked, but nowhere near what I was expecting.
Me and my dad really are different. You would think 52 years would have taught me that. Our differences were magnified in the rich Broadway soil. But he survived it. So did I. And we got a lot of okra, peppers and stories out of the deal.
He says he is done and it's all mine if we do it again. I hope he reconsiders. I need somebody to blame for the watermelons.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, firstname.lastname@example.org.