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Roger has a mind of his own

08/08/02 12:00AM By Edith Hunter
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(Host) We usually think of the garden as a peaceful place, but commentator Edith Hunter says it can also be a hotbed of determined - if quiet - rebellion.

(Hunter) When our children were small, one story we always read when they were having problems with a younger sibling was, Roger Has A Plan of His Own . This was the story of a two-year old boy who wanted to do things his way, not the way those around him wanted him to. He was no longer a cute little baby, but was becoming a person, on his own.

I was reminded of the story as I sat looking at my vegetable garden. I have six poles of pole beans, two rows of three poles each. Son Graham, who is six-feet plus, puts in the poles for me and they extend about two feet higher than I can reach.

Grandson Sammy and I had the bright idea of tying a string between the poles at the highest point I can reach. The idea was that when the pole beans reached the string the vines would wind themselves around the string, rather than continuing on up the poles. We found some blue twine that had held the bales of mulch straw together and used it to form the trellis. It looked very pretty.

But the pole beans had plans of their own. They totally ignored the blue string and continued straight up the eight foot poles - up and up, and now stand waving their unattached tendrils against the sky. I had tried winding some around the string, but, as soon as my back is turned, most of them unwind themselves and go straight up again.

Today, as I was picking some of the beans on the lower parts of the plants I ran into a squash vine that had wandered over from the squash patch. The squash vine was beginning to climb up the bean pole. Here's another vegetable with a plan of its own, I thought.

As I sat by the garden house cutting up string beans, I contemplated my fully matured garden. I began sorting out the vegetables mentally into those, like Roger, with plans of their own, and the more tractable group that stay where I put them.

The asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, corn, and bush beans, I can count on. They grow to maturity exactly where I plant them. But the squash, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers, strawberries, and pole beans cannot be counted on to stay put.

As I mentally sorted the vegetables, I noticed a few dill plants trying to disguise themselves as asparagus. Their bright yellow flowers gave them away. The dill comes up on its own every year and has been assigned a place over near the chives and leeks. Most of it is over there, but a few of the plants have plans of their own. When I lay out the garden in the spring, I try to allow for the Rogers in the vegetable kingdom, but they always outwit me.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center, Vermont.
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