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Norb’s Corner: The Bounty of Western New York

Western New York is constantly taking a bad rap and some of it is well deserved. Our sports teams seem to do well but not well enough. We have one of the highest tax rates of the country. We have poverty, homelessness, under achieving schools and all the problems of an overused, underfunded, declining rust belt area. Let’s face it, we’ve been ridden hard and put away wet.

But those of us that still love the area appreciate some of the great things the area has to offer. First rate colleges like Buffalo State, Bryant and Stratton, Canisius, Daemen, D’Youville and University at Buffalo. We have amazing cultural venues like the Buffalo History Museum, Albright Knox, Medina Railroad Museum, and even the Jello Museum (yes, Jello was invented in Western New York). We have two of the great lakes on our doorstep, Erie and Ontario that give us immeasurable recreational opportunities. There are excellent medical facilities like Rowsell Park, ECMC, Millard Fillmore, Sisters and others. There are restaurants that rival any from New York City, Chicago or anywhere else in the world.

The weather may be bad at times but the temperature seldom exceeds the double digits and it gets a lot colder than we do in many other places. We don’t have major earthquakes, mud slides, forest fires or flooding like they had in New Orleans. We don’t have tornadoes, hurricanes or other serious weather. Sure we have snow, and sometimes a heck of a lot of it, like the blizzard of ’77, but we are used to snow and it eventually melts.

I would like to turn my focus in this article on the short growing season we have and what we can do with it. We have first class orchards, vineyards and wineries, vibrant agriculture that supplies food for the entire world, but I want to go even smaller than that to the home gardener. From now till the end of fall, I have friends and neighbors bringing over bags of fresh produce. Their small home garden plots produce more vegetables than they can possibly handle.

It is not unusual for me to find bags of vegetables on my front or back porch. Just this week, a buddy brought over a box full of cucumbers, acorn squash, carrots, green beans, yellow beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash,. I swear if it was not for the fact we can eat summer squash and zucchini it would be classified as a weed, with how quickly it grows and how prolific it is. Today, a bag full of various types of tomatoes from cherry to plum to beefsteak appeared on my front porch. This is one of the great things I like about the area. The people willing to share their overabundance that they can grow from a small garden plot. Every area has good and bad points but I like living where, when I get home, my house is exactly where I left it and there are piles of fresh veggies on my porch.

My first house had a 3200 square foot back garden where he grew beets, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and parsnips and even took a stab at corn. I also had a side garden where I grew the “vines” like squashes, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers. I had an asparagus bed across the back of his house, rhubarb growing along the side of the house and potatoes growing in the sandy soil along my fence. There were also plum trees and sour cherry trees. I love grabbing a fresh tomato off the plant and eating it like an apple.

Lead image: jeanneg

Written by Norbert Rug

Norbert Rug

Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport. His work has been published in over 50 periodicals and websites including the Buffalo News, Lockport Union Sun and Journal, Niagara Falls Gazette, the East Niagara Post, The Lockport Star, The North Tonawanda Extra, the Niagara Reporter, and Artvoice. His work has been published on Press Reader, Good Cookery, the National association for Home Care and Hospice, and Konitono. , in over 7 countries and has been translated in at least 5 languages.

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