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It's a sweet time of year

August 6, 2009
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher

There is a certain peace in the garden at this time of the year. The beautiful butterflies of various sorts flit around the garden, from flower to flower, as if they have nothing better to do then to look over the colors of the phlox or the purple coneflowers. The bees are humming their happy bee song and all is quiet with the world at that one single moment.

Then, a blur of colors, shrieking and running past, with the dog in tow, goes the young masters of the garden, running wildly ahead, arms and legs pumping as fast as they can, to get to the corn patch to pick sweet corn for the days meals. They have waited for so long for this that they are simply wild with excitement. Sweet corn.

They are not allowed to pick it on their own - yet. But dad sure has a captive audience as he shows them how to tell if the cob is ready to be picked yet-"without having to take the wrapper off so the bugs don't get in it and make it all yucky."

This is a time that this Master gardener stays out of the patch so that they can have their time in learning from their farming dad how all of that effort earlier this spring can make their sweet corn turn out to be the best they have had yet.

Since, anyway, moms don't know much about sweet corn other than how to cook it (so I have been told). They carefully evaluate any ears of corn that squirrels or raccoons may have checked the ears to see if they were done and go over the plan about how to rid the world of the sweet corn eating bandits - especially those that get the best of the ears.

And did you know, as long as I have been a gardener - I didn't know this one - that green bell peppers can make a loud, pleasing sound as they are violently thrown to the ground? It is sort of sound like a pop gun. It will get your attention, all right especially if it is done right behind you at the time while you are bent over in the garden picking tomatoes. There was, even more so, more shrieking and running wildly out of the garden, after that little lesson in physics.

And, no, it wasn't me running and shrieking wildly either - though I did contemplate it at the time. The tomatoes and peppers are coming along nicely and since it has been so dry, most gardeners have been without so many problems up to this point except the obvious that it has been too dry.

The wilts, the blights and the other problems that our group of plants such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes can get at this time of the year, are doing very well this year, for the most part. We have to keep vigilant about watching and treating for these problems as they creep up especially since we have had rain which splashes a lot of dirt on to our plants which also carries with it, the fungus that cause the blight.

You can purchase many different kinds of fungicides for these problems. You just need to know which blight you have by what it looks like. The U of M has a great Web site that has plant diseases and pictures of what these diseases look like to help you figure it out.

We have to remember to watch when we spray so we can still eat those precious tomatoes for supper each night. In our household it only brings up another discussion of whether to eat tomatoes with sugar or salt. The young gardener masters say that either way is too yucky!

For more information on your garden, you can email me at



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