Weather and critters makes gardening challenging

Jerry Apps
Every garden has its challenges, this year is no exception.

As I have done for several years, I report on my vegetable garden about the Fourth of July.  Each vegetable gets a rating from 1-10, with 10 being outstanding. I report on the good and the bad, including this year, a few zeros.

Every gardening year has its challenges and this year is no exception. The two most challenging features of our Waushara County Garden each year are the weather and critters. First the weather. The season began rather normal but in May quickly turned to hot and dry. Except for some timely watering, we would not have had a garden.  

Then, in mid-June the rains began coming, some five inches in a couple weeks. Vegetables that love hot and wet weather took off, cool weather crops struggled a bit.

The critter story is a sad one. Our two-wire electric fence keeps out the deer, turkeys, and raccoons. But not the rabbits. This year the rabbit population is greater than we’ve known for 20 or more years, and with dry, hot weather, their normal grasses dried up. They attacked some of the garden vegetables. And they destroyed them. These are the vegetables that received a zero in Natasha's rating.

Natasha, my daughter-in-law, and our chief veggie gardener rated the vegetables as of the Fourth of July as follows. No vegetable received a 10. Sweet corn and potatoes–9; cucumbers, radishes, zucchini,  and winter squash–8; pumpkins, tomatoes, gourds, and sunflowers–7; no vegetables for 6; beans–5; carrots–4; none for 3; Lettuce–2; green cabbage–1; red cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, and spinach (rabbit food)–0.  Zero for onions as well, as the onion sets didn’t grow.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every garden year has its ups and downs.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to