Jerry’s Patio Garden – Alas! Cucumbers!



This Week’s Picture:  Cucumbers are sprouting.

2016 Garden Status:

I have 7 to 8 cucumbers sprouting now!  Looks like cucumbers are going to be the only vegetables that I may end up with this year.  Let’s see how they will do over the next week or so.

1966 Garden Status and Childhood Story

I think back to 1966.  That was 50 years ago.  I was 10 years old.  It was the year that I planted my first garden.  As I think back on that garden, the only vegetables that made it were my cucumbers.  My tomatos, my squash, my green beans never made.  My garden yield was very low.  I learned a lot about conditioning the soil prior to planting the garden.  My cumcumber sprouts showed up in late May and grew at a steady rate.  There were only a few days left before the summer break and I was looking forward to a summer of fun.

My First Snake Kill

June came.  The fist Saturday after school finally let out found me heading up the one mile hill to fetch water from the spring.  It was 10:00 A.M. and it was hot already.  As I think about it now, I am sure that it was 85 degrees.  I treaded up the hill with my wagon, looking ahead at the top of the ridge while pulling my wagon.  I happended to look down and there it was.  A medium size black snake.  I’m sure that it was not a racer, otherwise it would have taken off faster than I could blink an eye.  It was frozen.  I was frozen.  I still remembered looking right at its beady little eyes.  Those beady looking things looked as if they were staring right into mine.  I slowly took a step back.  The snake did not move.  I quickly looked on the ground to my left for a rock and fortunately for me there was a rather large one next to my left foot.  Immediately, I picked it up, quickly raised it above my head and threw it hard at the snake and smashed its head in.  The rest of the snake’s body and tail curled up and swung all over the place.  I was surprised at my accuracy.  I played a lot of stick ball and enjoyed trying to throw people out but I do not believe that I was ever that accurate.

I grabbed the handle of my wagon and made a wide berth around the dangling tail of the snake with the crushed head.  The rock rolled over a foot or so from the velocity wherewith it was thrown.  I was shaking.  My nerves were rattled and my adrenaline was in high gear.  I made it to the top of the hill, filled my jugs with water in record time.  Afterward I walked slowly back down the hill.  It was like I was crashing from some sort of sugar high.  I felt drained.  I walked by the dead snake, now still as the sticks and rocks that lay near it.  I stopped and stared for a few minutes and then moved on.  I made it home.  Put the water jugs in their place, poured myself a tall glass, sat down next to the wood crate and turned the glass up until it was finished.  I did not mention the snake to my aunt.  I just stared at the wall for a moment until I heard voices outside calling my name.

“Jerry, are you home?” , asked one of the kids as he knocked.  “We are ready to play softball.  Can you come?”  My aunt looked at me and nodded her assent.  I jumped up, grabbed my makeshift bat from the back porch and joined the crowd.  On the way to the field where we played, I told my story about the snake.  There were oooh’s and ahhh’s from some, there were a few “…you’re just making that up…”  comments from others.  Either way it did not matter.  I was still shuddering from the experience.


Stay tuned next week for stories from Jerry’s childhood in the rural south in Jerry’s Patio Garden

This Week on Jerry’s Patio Garden


This Week’s Picture: The flowers are blooming. It won’t be long before i see cucumbers at the end of those stems. At least that is what I expect. It won’t be the first time that I saw flowers and no fruit.
In the Days of my 1996 Garden

It had been nearly two weeks since the flowers, which were blooming all over the place, had fallen off and still there were no tomatoes, no melons, not much of anything. Just a few squash and a few cucumbers here and there. Probably had to do with the fact that the soil was not treated beforehand. My request to start a garden came far too late to do any pre-treatment of the soil.

A Trip Into “the Woods”

After eyeing my disappointing crop one day, I decided to just take a walk into the forest area, which we referred to simply as “the woods”. I was so disappointed, I did not check to see if I would be there along or not. I was not on guard for any of the wild life (lizards, snakes, large moths, etc.) that terrified me. I was generally terrifed by any critter that crawled, slithered or flew. This afternoon I did not care. I just walked deeper and deeper into the woods. I walked alongside a creek that ran through the woods. I was calmed my the rush of the water that flowed over the green, moss covered rocks. It was a moment of peace for me as I stepped slowly across a path that was made by others. As I walked I forgot all about my disappointment. Bushes, reeds and ferns lined the river. Pine trees, oak trees, and vines hanging from oak were everywhere. I was lost in the moment but not lost in the woods. I know the path would take me back home. I finally remembered my garden. Next year, I said to myself. I saw a rotted stump of tree, about a foot tall whose roots clung to the ground. I kicked it over, then watched the termites scurry all over the place. I continued to kick away until I saw the reddish colored wood in the middle. I picked up a limb that layed on the ground nearby and begin to knock away the rotted sections of the stump until the piece of reddish-orange wood stood out from the core. Kindling, I thought. Kindling was a great starter fuel for fires that were lit in wood burning stoves. You could buy them from the stores that sold wood, sometimes the lumber trucks would drop off a bundle along with scrap wood from the lumber yard or sometimes you could find it in old rotted out stumps of trees. I kicked the kindling until I heard a crack. It was broken free. I reached in with my hand and yanked it up. I brushed off the dust and termites. I smiled as I turned back to the path and headed towards home.

Stay Tuned Next Week for Jerry’s Patio Garden.