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Bonny's veggie garden earns July accolades

Bonny Disselbrett's garden in Park Rapids is an oasis of green near a busy commercial neighborhood. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 2
Bonny Disselbrett holds some of last year's crop of potatoes, which she has kept in cold storage through the winter. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 2

Across the street from one of Park Rapids' busiest commercial enterprises is a small oasis of lush flowering trees, flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruits.

You would never know it's there. Bonny Disselbrett's home is right across the street from J&B Foods, a block east of U.S. Highway 71, adjacent to the city's tennis courts.

Yet it's quiet and peaceful in this other world.

Bonny's gardening acumen has just earned her the gardener of the month award from the Park Rapids Garden Club.

On a back yard plot that's about 50-by-60, Bonny grows every thing imaginable, and some things you've never heard of.

"I've never measured it," she says of the sunny spot, trying to count the fence posts. "Are these 8 or 12 feet apart?"

It doesn't matter. It is jam-packed with bounty, some of which will be jam.

"There's raspberries and blackberries," she says, starting at the far wall adjacent to her neighbor.

"I've got a bend for potatoes," so there's three varieties.

She brings out last year's crop, which she's still storing and dining off of. They're hard and firm as if she just picked them.

She walks through the greens, listing off the crops and the health benefits of each.

"There's nine minerals and vitamins in these," said the youthful senior.

The corn is way higher than knee high and it's July 5.

She started the tomatoes from seed and thought they wouldn't make it through the hot, then cold spring.

"By George, they're coming pretty good," she encourages them.

There's the Concord grapes growing on the south fence.

"I'm watering them every day," her neighbor tells her through the fence.

"He's also getting some blackberries," she notes of the vines snaking their way south.

She bought the home 21 or 22 years ago and immediately began planting.

Shrubs, trees, bushes and many varieties of roses thrived.

She said she's only been vegetable gardening about 10-15 years.

"It just tastes better," she said. She gives veggies away to apartment dwellers in the neighborhood, cans and shares with family.

"The hot peppers, jalapenos, cauliflower and cabbage are there," she says, continuing the tour. "Over there are the squash, beans and peas. Here's the asparagus. I ran out of room so I planted the radishes underneath" the asparagus bush.

She's nibbling on a lettuce leaf while she stops to yank a weed or two.

One new addition is the herbs.

She nibbles at a leaf to try to identify it. "I think it's thyme," she pronounces. "Over there... I don't know if it's rosemary."

The tour continues down rows of carrots, squash, zucchini and chamomile and winds up at the rubber snakes.

The very real critters are spaced around the beans to ward off birds.

The strawberries are covered with netting, which she planned to remove Monday for one last picking.

Then there are the cherry bushes.

"These are Nanking," she points out, offering a cherry. "They're good for arthritis and gout."

At one point she consults a list to try to recall just where everything is. There's no map except the one in her head.

"I planted calypso but I don't know if it's coming," she said, scanning the leafy mass.

There's horseradish, mustard and Rusty the dog, who barks ferociously in protection of the bounty. He probably scares away the squirrels, rabbits and birds, but he's otherwise very sociable.

Neighbors and friends bring her plants and bushes. "I got this Minnesota wild rose from a friend," she said, pointing to a bush that's obviously loving its surroundings.

In her "spare time" Bonny is a music lover and painter.

"I don't know if I'll keep up with all of this," she muses. "It's a lot of work.

"I've got my paints waiting" inside.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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