Right about now, when snow covers the ground, Maine gardeners are poring over newly arrived seed catalogs, getting prepared for the next growing season. Well, the days are getting longer, aren’t they?

Our first garden, after retirement, was accomplished in spite of not knowing basic gardening information. Enthusiasm reigned. My simplistic method was to put seeds and seedlings inside a prepared area.

Placement and grids did not enter my mind. One just planted and waited for it to grow. Obviously I was issued a garden fairy. It must happen for the new gardener. So I did the unmentionable in Maine and planted the first week in May.

Neighbors scoffed, but apparently my assigned fairy took pity on me. I had my first ripe tomato in July. Since spacing wasn’t a high priority at planting time, vegetables bumped against each other. Lettuce filled in everywhere.

I probably held the seed packages upside down a time or two in my excitement. Green bean plants were so crowded they couldn’t tell what the weather was up to and produced all summer. Before I knew it, my little patch was soon full of veggies competing for space. It left no room for weeds.

Vine veggies must have had a meeting and decided the only way they could survive in the jungle was to head for a nearby stone wall. Blue hubbard and acorn squash took off, followed quickly by cucumbers and zucchini.

August, concerned neighbors were stopping by to check out my vegetable forest. They shook their heads, returned to their very neat gardens to search perfect rows for at least a pink tomato. My heart went out to them. They are true gardeners who follow the rules and perhaps actually read all the information on seed packets and seedlings.

The local deer herd didn’t show in our yard, but were getting their vitamins from other gardens where perhaps they could comfortably walk between the rows.

The deer that became my problem was my husband’s John Deere. Mr. Neat became obsessed with the uneven appearance of the perimeters of the garden, particularly the out-of-control veggie vines that had reached their objective — the stone wall.

One beautiful summer morning, Mr. Neat climbed up on his Deere and in a moment of pure power, dropped the mower lever and evened off the garden. At first I saw red when I saw bits of squash and cucumber sliding down the stone wall, but there was no need for misplaced anger.

It didn’t slow down the production of the vine veggies. If he hadn’t trimmed the perimeter of the jungle, I would have been making pickles and picking squash forever.

My garden is now enclosed with a fence strong enough to hold up lots of veggie vines and certainly strong enough to keep even the mechanized Deere out.

However, my planting program for the coming spring hasn’t changed. I still prefer to see bunched-up vegetables. It always looks like they are having a party.

– Special to the Telegram