This winter and spring have brought crazy temperatures and weather damage for many crops, but the vagaries of backyard gardening make me appreciate just how consistent the produce industry is.

The foibles of home gardening

Amelia Freidline
Fresh Take

Picking the first sweet spring peas is something I look forward to every time we manage to plant a garden, but we couldn’t get them to grow this year no matter what we tried.

The first attempt, I admit, was with peas we’d had hiding in the closet since I was in high school, so it was little surprise when they failed to grow.

Then our second crop was devoured by chipmunks. So much for spring peas.

Another item we’ve grown for several years is asparagus.

By the time consistent spring-like weather arrives in our part of the Midwest, however, and we’re hungry for asparagus, the stalks are usually taller than I am.

So, when we sat down to Easter dinner a couple of weeks ago, the peas and asparagus we enjoyed were not from our own garden, but probably from California and Central or South America, via the grocery store.

We were all grateful that produce growers around the world are more reliable than we are when it comes to raising fruits and vegetables.

Some success

One vegetable we did grow successfully, however, was radishes — and I didn’t know whether to be excited about that or not.

Radishes, it seems, are not a young person’s vegetable.

According to The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2011, only 13% of consumers age 23-39 said they bought radishes in the past 12 months, compared with 35% of consumers 59 and older.

To me, radishes are odd round things that seem more at home on the Christmas tree than on Grandma’s Christmas relish tray.

It was a pleasant surprise, then, to unearth the radishes from my backyard and find I actually liked them. I guess I’m on my way to being a convert.

It’s only a matter of time before the hot Kansas summer sets in, though, and our radishes become a distant memory.

Squirrels and rabbits and summer vacations could kill any chance we have of getting the tomatoes and zucchini we intend to plant.

It reminds me to be grateful for the men and women who work hard to ensure fresh, safe fruits and vegetables are available for us to eat year-round.

Having a backyard garden can be fun, but growing food for your family takes time and dedication, not to mention money.

After all, they say the most expensive produce is the kind you grow yourself.

E-mail afreidline@thepacker.com

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.