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Senior Correspondent

And in all due time, as widely speculated but never quite forecast, the crust of the Earth has drained and firmed and begun to bear the weight of those who had hoped to grow one heck of a lot more vegetables this rainy season than the pitiful take that has come in so far.

The other day I picked two ripe — one the size of a ping pong ball, the other not quite so large as a juvenile handball.  That's it for the tomato crop so far. We have picked three zucchinis and four crookneck squash.  We have harvested about 19 cucumbers — perhaps a fifth of what we normally would have gotten by now. The broccoli bolted early on. Rabbits got most of the lettuce while we waited for the water to quit burbling up out of the fence post holes where big husky posts would have held up the new field fence with anti-bunny wiring at the bottom.  And the peppers have been audibly gagging in their raised beds, pouring all their energy into whining and griping rather than growing into nice greens and reds as the Lord intended.

Still, we have hopes of getting that fence up sometime this year, perhaps just in time to help remind us where the garden was when the snow begins to fly and the ice spreads its slick sheet of sly surprises across the hillside.

And then there are the blueberries. My gosh, what a crop — the like of which have remained unseen in lo these many summers.  We picked about six quarts Sunday and, after some nice sun Monday and a little more Tuesday, expect to haul in as much the next time we visit.  They are glorious, and a great many are just now showing signs of turning from green to blush to blue to that much preferred blue-black. Bring it on.

And eight of our 10 or so elderly apple trees (including, I must acknowledge, at least one crabapple tree) on the farm are showing the first of the ripening fruit. There's at least one Golden Delicious, or something mightily like it, but the rest appear to be reds of one kind or another and I need to consult an expert on what we have — and what to do with them.  Sometimes we go for years without seeing apples on these trees, so in this year of gardening disasters, it's reassuring to see these old boys putting out a crop.  

And marvel of marvels, I finally got around to planting the first of the apples that I've been planning on ever since retiring more than two years ago. I know, I know, not the right time. But it has been so wet and so cool up here this summer that, after consulting a few authoritative sources in the Jessie Peterman Branch Library's admirable stacks, I bought a few potted varieties at Slaughters and got them in the ground with what I hope will be adequate fencing to keep out the deer.

Given that most of what I know I learned from the error side of trial-and-error study, I expect there will be lessons from this little venture, too, but at least the schooling has begun.  Say, will this be on the final?

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