It is astonishing what the presence of a mere high tunnel shade house does to the aura of a garden. It immediately feels like the garden is composed less of a series of beds plopped into the middle of prairie grass, and instead it promotes a sense of a purposeful and planned garden. Despite placement deep down into the vegetable garden and off to the side, its existence somehow balances the overall garden. "Here," it says, "is a thoughtful and determined gardener." Thank God, I was able to erect it well enough that it isn't askew and disclosing the gardeners complete desperation to fight the searing Kansas sun. I should also be thankful that I didn't erect a real greenhouse else I'd have delusions that I might someday become a decent gardener instead of a serial plant killer.
If you ignore the weeds in front and behind the structure, the laughing masses of weeds that I swear weren't there two days ago, you'll see that I followed my original purpose and placed it around and over my very pampered strawberry bed. I've done about everything I can now, mulching the strawberries in black plastic so that the natural rain is concentrated in the rows and the competition of weeds is lessened. I've run drip hoses up and down the rows so that the mere turn of a faucet at the house can mitigate the July scorch of the prairies. I'm carefully directing runners back into the rows, to fill in the bare spaces and increase the yield. Now I must merely wait through Fall, Winter, and Spring to harvest the fruits of my labors, hoping all along that Winter doesn't get too cold and dry or that Spring doesn't recognize the humor of a late freeze. A garden might not provide fruit or sustenance, but every day it provides the gardener a lesson about the virtues of tolerance and patience.