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Looking back on growing season

September 15, 2011
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

The sudden appearance of what seems like fall is upon us once again. It is with the changing of seasons that I often find myself having mixed emotions about the gardens of which I have been in charge of for the year. This year, with the weather situation being as it has been for all of us, I am glad to see the season winding down then heating up. It certainly has been a frustrating growing season not only for gardeners but also for our farmers.

Yes, I am still glad that as far as my vegetable garden goes, I still managed to get some produce from it and have tucked it away for the winter. I have also been fortunate that there have been family and friends who have donated some of their extra produce to help fill our shelves. I know that there are many who are still looking for someone who might have some extra produce to fill in where the weather has taken it away. I encourage those who have extra to try and see if their neighbors, friends and, more importantly, their family could use the extra produce that you might have.

In turn, as these things seem to go, my flower beds and trees have not been such a show of color and are certainly the prominent eye catching item in the garden this year. I am amazed that especially now that the fall colors are starting to bloom along with the last of the perennials and the strong growing and flowering annuals, the color that I have in my yard is truly amazing. For two years in a row, some annual mixed seeds that I have purchased locally have been the show stoppers in my garden. They are a mix of zinnias (or as my little girl calls them zinnjas-sounds like ninjas), cosmos and the tall version of marigolds plus a little alyssum thrown in here and there. These plants are towering in my two gardens; well over three feet tall (except the alyssum). The beautiful butterflies are amassed; attracted I am sure, to these towering giants, along with all of the other flowers that are still going strong. The highlight of the garden this year is an ivy geranium sort of pinkish-purplish that the hummingbirds have fallen in love with.

We have also had not good but great luck with our pumpkins this year and our sunflowers. So far, we have counted over 20 pumpkins and miscellaneous gourds and wee be little pumpkins in the patch. The sunflowers, of which I have written before, are slowly finishing up. They still are attracting a treasure trove of bees and some butterflies which I didn't realize that butterflies would be attracted to them. It is probably because they are the decorative type. We also have the seed type which their heads are nodding down now. As my middle son as told me, they do this so it is easier for him to reach up and snap their heads off. The blue jays think home grown sunflowers seeds are the best and it is fun to watch them come in to eat the seeds.

The trees are all doing well, considering they had such a tough few summers not to mention, this summer alone has caused some interesting problems. My heart aches for those trees that are now gone from the storm. It will take years to replace them but on the flip side, it is also wonderful to watch a little tree to grow up and take over an empty spot.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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