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Squash gone wild

Gardeners have reported mixed success during the summer of 2009, but Kevin Kampsula, St. Lawrence-Rush Lake area, has had remarkable success with his squash crop.1 / 2
Kampsula's corn towered more than seven feet by August 8--while many gardeners and farmers have reported late and stunted corn.2 / 2

Grumbling gardeners are all around us...tomatoes and corn are late; growing season has been unusual; weather has been weird.

One area gardener is having surprising success, despite the conditions--at least in the corn and squash departments.

"I've never seen squash like this...some of the leaves are the size of beach balls," said Kevin Kampsula, who grows his garden near the east end of Rush Lake. "I think the conditions are good for squash and potatoes--cooler spring, cooler weather during the summer."

Crawling to his lawn and overtaking the rest of his garden, the squash is almost a vining menace. "These plants are four to five times bigger than I've ever seen before," said Kampsula.

But that doesn't explain his corn crop, which was about seven feet tall already by August 8.

He has fertilized with manure, but really no differently than past years.

"People drive by, and then they call me, 'what did you do to get your corn to grow so well?'" they ask Kampsula.

He contributes his gardening success, in part, to soil testing that has helped bring the soil to the proper balance. Watering is another factor, said Kampsula. With his garden plot only a dozen feet from his home and water source, he's had consistent, daily watering all summer.

Kampsula has deep roots in the New York Mills area, and its farm and garden tradition, though he grew up and worked mostly in the Twin Cities area before moving back. He works at Barrel O' Fun, and also operates "All Leather," a shoe repair and leather-works shop, out of his home on County 14, east of St. Lawrence Church.