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Vi Henderson pulled up this beet with a 18-inch-long root. She said the dry growing season created the long root. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Vi wraps up 2014 gardening season

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By Sarah Smith

Like clockwork, the third weekend in October, the proprietor of Vi’s Vegetables drains her water, changes the oil in her 1998 Ford Econovan and heads south to Texas.

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She’s followed this route for 42 years. There’s no reason at age 89 to stop, Viona Henderson figures.

The last weekend of April, she reverses the process, changing the oil in the van and draining the water in her McAllen, Texas home before heading to Hubbard County lake country.

Last week she was selling veggies and having a rummage sale at her rural Park Rapids home.

“Some of this stuff is not mine,” she says. On one table are jars of grapefruit juice, from red grapefruits and yellow grapefruits. It’s her bounty from Texas.

She canned 481 quarts this year.

“That’s my medicine,” she grinned. The lean woman is a testament to good living.

She’s one of those people who figure why have someone else do it when you can do it yourself?

The Iowa farm girl changes the oil on the Ford, her lawn tractor and anything else that needs a tune-up.

The oldest of nine children, she mows her vast lawn, cans corn, tomatoes and beets and bowls on a league every Friday in Texas. With a 12-pound, 2-ounce bowling ball, she points out.

She puts many 30-year-olds to shame. She had an influx of people at her home last week while she was trying to pickle beets and have lunch.

She’d sold eight quarts of pickles the day before so time was a-wasting.

Her life philosophy is “if you rest, you rust.”

She holds up a beet with a, 18-inch-long root.

“It’s been dry out there,” she remarks.

She, too, has a long root.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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