By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

PFEIFER -- If you ask Wayne Jacob how his garden grows, he just might answer, very well, thank you very much.

Indeed it does.

Nestled not far from the banks of the Smoky Hill River, Jacob nurtures a garden anyone would be proud of.

"I've got some great looking onions here," he said, his face beaming with pride as he walked alongside the upright shoots that reflect what's underground. "I let them go until they lay down."

It's not just a row or two of onions.

He has Texas sweet, "then I have three rows of Candy," yet another variety of onions.

Next to that, Jacob has Vidalia onions.

Then there's the tomatoes and his green beans.

Well, in this case it's hard to tell they're green beans.

This year, he's trying purple green beans.

"They're purple but they turn green when you cook them," he said.

As he talked, his two dachshunds dashed back and forth, ducking under the purple bean plants.

"They're after those damn toads," he said. "I don't like them to get them. They get them in their mouth, then they start coughing."

His cucumbers are set in perfect rows, elevated planks set between the 40 plants.

Jacob uses the planks as a way to maneuver through the plants so he can retrieve his bounty.

Dill lines the fence row at the end of one section of his garden.

"I've got my dill right there," he said, "and they come up every year."

And then there are the tomatoes, his pride and joy. He picks them just as they start to turn red.

A year ago, he ventured out into the garden to pick his bounty.

"I picked 96 pounds of tomatoes," he said. "That was the biggest record I ever had."

This year, he has 36 tomato plants growing.

The cool nights of spring slowed down the growth of his garden, something he especially could see in a zucchini plant located in the shade behind a big bale of straw. That plant was markedly smaller than the three others, planted in the same row, but in the sun.

The list goes on, with potatoes, sweet corn, cantaloupe and watermelon rounding out the garden.

The cantaloupe and watermelon are marked with flags -- warnings for him to watch his step as he sprinkled about mulch to help keep down the weeds and hold the moisture.

As he starts harvesting his crop, Jacob will take tomatoes and cantaloupes to the farmers market in Hays. His cucumbers -- even the dill and horseradish that come up each year -- are so sought after that little is left.

In fact, he's had several inquiries to see if the cucumbers are ready.

"I get so many compliments," he said of his garden. "There's not a weed in the garden."

And it takes work.

Last year's planting took 13 hours, he said.

"After it's planted, it's not so bad," Jacob said. "I tell you the hardest time is when you pick it."