MANKATO — MANKATO — This summer, an investment in sweat equity is resulting in a bountiful pantry.
“The heat’s been good for the peppers, okra, tomatoes and eggplant. Melons are doing great, as long as they are kept hydrated,” said Lisa Coons of the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry, which oversees the community garden plots at Good Counsel.
Withstanding the high heat and humidity to haul water and pull weeds has been worth it, agreed most members of River Meadows in North Mankato.
“This is our best year yet,” said Lynn Solo, garden manager. “Most plants really liked the heat.”
Last year, she had problems with garden pests attacking her squash, but fewer worries this year. The insects didn’t return.
Member Marion Fullmer, 80, wasn’t bothered by bugs or the heat. She regularly tends to her plot late afternoons and early evenings. Each maintenance visit to her garden has meant four or five trips to the water spigot at nearby Crossview
Covenant Church. Fullmer cares for close to 50 tomato plants.
Fullmer willingly helps other gardeners and she sets aside some produce for people who don’t have gardens.
“I plan to give some to the local food shelf. I’ve already had cucumbers delivered to them,” she said.
Many community gardeners in Mankato are anticipating their pantries will be full after this summer’s harvest and several people are raising corn this year.
The bi-colored variety River Meadows gardener Doug Mehloff planted is coming along, he said. The first-time grower’s crop has started to tassel, so he’s been going from stalk to stalk shaking pollen loose. His efforts may result in better pollination and more kernels per ear.
River Meadows member Don Rickard has to wait until this fall to taste his corn harvest — he’s growing popcorn. “It’s struggling along. I am hoping for more rain.”
This summer, Mankato Magazine gardening columnist Jean Lundquist gave up the struggle involved in growing her favorite variety of corn. After a personal drought assessment of the rows she had planted, Lundquist mowed them down.
Many sweet corn lovers prefer paying for ears to backyard farming. Costs and quality have varied in reports from throughout the area this week.
Thirteen fans responded to The Free Press Facebook inquiry about what they’ve paid for the favorite summertime meal. Their purchases had ranged in cost from $4 to $7.50 per dozen.