What they may not know is the garden was dug and planted by Carl Fritz, 71, of Metropolis on his hands and knees.
The vegetables that have come out of Fritz’s garden have been feeding his family and several of the families in the neighborhood.
Fritz worked as a farmer and also worked for Westvaco cutting trees making a living until, one day while he was cutting trees, a tree fell on him from the ankle up to his waist, crushing him.
According to Fritz, he laid for five hours before anyone found him. He was rushed to then Western Baptist Hospital and later to a hospital in Cape Girardeau. Fritz said the bone wouldn’t heal.
The accident left him unable to walk and also left him with a large sum of medical expenses to pay. “I haven’t been able to walk for 37 years,” said Fritz, who says the accident is in the past and through the adversity went on with his life.
Fritz was originally born and raised in Villa Ridge, in Pulaski County. When he was a child his great grandfather sold wood to the steam engines, ran a grocery store and a shipping produce business. He said his great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all gardeners, and he has a special secret fertilizer that was handed down through the generations of his family.
It was eight years ago when his wife died and then a year later, one of his sons, at the age of 40, passed away. At that time he still lived in Pulaski County, but says “I couldn’t stand it by myself.” So about a year and a half ago, he moved to Metropolis to live with one of his other sons. He says his grandchildren — Shawn and Rebecca — are his pride and joy.
Every year he plants a garden and says he has always been an outdoorsman and enjoys being outside. Fritz has not let is inability to walk to prevent him from his love of gardening. In addition to not being able to walk, Fritz also deals with COPD and has breathing problems.
Fritz said the spot where the garden is was filled with some stumps, many of which he dug out using his spade while on his hands and knees. He started working the ground at the end of May and used the spade to scoop out the grass.
“I couldn’t find a used tiller anywhere,” he said, noting next year he will probably have to use one to get the garden planted.
But, this summer, when he got started working on his garden, it took him all of about three days to get it ready and planted.
His garden has tomato plants that are seven and one-half feet tall. He has okra, cucumbers, beets, pear tomatoes and squash, just to name a few. He planted four crops of beans and 46 tomato plants.
“Goodness gracious, I’ve picked a lot,” Fritz says, pointing out he has fried some green tomatoes and eaten a lot of the fresh vegetables, but also says that has also given a lot of vegetables away to his neighbors that live near him.
In fact a neighbor wanted some tomatoes planted and with the help of his son, Carl, he rolled his father over to the neighbor’s backyard for him to plant the tomatoes for his neighbor.
He said he has had some people who have tried to pay him for the vegetables. “I don’t want it,” he said, pointing out that he did not take any money. Giving away the vegetables and helping other people, he says is what he does.
According to Fritz, in order to keep the squirrels and skunks and other critters out of his garden, he keeps a garden hose handy and sprays them with water. Fritz said next year he probably will have to have to get a used tiller to break up the ground.
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