Now that the snow has melted (and we hopefully won't see more) Sioux Empire gardeners' thoughts will increasingly turn to seeds, starter sets, fertilizer, bedding plants and schematics for their gardens.

When my dad retired he became an avid gardener. He would plot out his rows of produce far in advance of the planting season. Rows of tomatoes, and zucchini dominated the chart but he would also try peppers, eggplant and more exotic (back then) veggie varieties like lemon-flavored cucumbers and ruffly-edged patty pan squash.

Like everything else in Daddy's life, he did this to excess. The small garden plot became a huge expanse of row-upon-row of vegetation, planted just so, with marigolds to ward of bunnies around the entire exterior. The harvest from this monstrous operation was, to put it mildly, plentiful. It was a good thing tomato sauce was in such high demand in our household at all times!

If you're a fruit and vegetable gardening fanatic who always ends up with extra, now you can share your delicious hard work with hungry South Dakotans. For the third year, Feeding South Dakota is encouraging gardeners and small farmers to "Plant An Extra Row" and donate the resulting yield to a Feeding South Dakota partner food pantry.

Last year alone Feeding South Dakota was instrumental in providing over 190,000 hungry South Dakotans with around 11 million meals. Their goal for 2017 is to make those meals even healthier, which can be a very expensive proposition without donations from enthusiastic partners with an overabundance of produce!

For information on where and how you can donate your "extra row" of produce, call 605-335-0364, go to feedingsouthdakota.org/howtohelp, or check out their Facebook page.

Now get growing!


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