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2016 Spring Has Sprung! It Has! Really! (I Hope!)
Will he or won't he?
In the early morning hours of February 2, 2016 in the small Pennsylvanian town of Punxsutawney, a Ground Hog was brought forth from his den to tell the world what to expect in the coming weeks. Thousands of people lined the streets of the town, with news reporters from across the globe in attendance. Millions of people tuned to their local stations to catch the soothsaying rodent's appearance, to see what he would say. Would it be as it has been for the past who knows how many years, with Spring still an interminable six weeks or more away? Or will we catch a break and have that most rare of situations, an early Spring? The world waited with bated breath for Phil's announcement.
He failed to see his shadow! That means an early Spring! Hallelujah!
An Early Spring!
The world jumped for joy at Phil's declaration that within two weeks, Winter would fade to nothingness and allow Spring to surge ahead, to arrive a month ahead of schedule for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. All hail the rodent!
And so, with this fact in my pocket, I set forth to do that which I have never done before: ready my garden to accept my efforts in March. In recent years I have had to protect my emerging seedlings from frost in April and even snow in May, crying over their demise at the hand of the evil Winter Warlock and Jack Frost. I patiently replanted and resowed my plants, and still gathered a bounty but always I wondered, I wondered...
What would happen if for once, I didn't have to replant? What if I were to be able to plant my garden one time and not have it ruined, not have all my hard worked shot to hell in a hand basket? Well, according to Phil, this is that year!
And so, without any further adieu, I submit to the world My Garden!
I did wait a bit just to be sure...
Lest you, the gentle reader, think I immediately set forth to purchase seeds and to till my garden on February 3rd, I most assuredly did not. I waited a bit, watching Winter fade into the past before purchasing anything. I also watched the plants and trees to determine if Spring really was approaching. On Wednesday February 17th, flowers appeared in our front yard; flowers like I have never seen before. I researched them online and found them to be of the Crocus family. Beautiful little purple and white flowers stretching up out of the ground, reaching for the warmth of the sun and spreading across our front lawn. It appeared to be acres and acres of them but in reality only about a hundred square feet of our yard was covered by them. I was moved to run across the yard in a long dress, twirling about with my arms outstretched while singing "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music". People stopped and stared, neighbors peering intently at the madman across the street singing at the top of his lungs, but so what. Spring had arrived!
I next watched the trees, for if they began to bud out then I knew, I knew that Spring had truly arrived. I saw Willow Trees begin to bud, then noticed the Tulip Tree in the back yard begin to produce flowers. As I drove across town I saw Bradford Pear Trees begin to bud with their soon to be opening flowers and Buttercups and Jonquils began to appear in yards across town. Oh happy day it's twue, it's twue! Spwing has twuwy spwung!!
And so, on this the first weekend in March, I did it: I tilled my garden. Yes I did, I tilled that sucker good. Seven times I tilled it just to make sure it was ready to receive my plantings. Back and forth, back and forth across the land I tilled. By days end the dirt was ready, lying like black gold in my backyard, waiting, waiting, waiting. Before that last tilling I tossed about some weed killer then tilled it once more to work it into the soil in preparation for a good bountiful crop of the seeds and seedlings I would plant.
I purchased a nice 5' x 5' x 6' tall greenhouse from Big Lots ($69.99) and set it up along the south facing portion of our house. I also readied my containers for the seeds I had purchased, seeds that would carry my family forth throughout the year in foods. There shall be tomatoes: tomatoes such as the world has never seen! Better Boys and Better Girls; Beefmasters and Big Boys; Early Girls and Rutgers. And from these tomatoes shall come salsa, salads, sandwiches, pasta sauce and more, so much more! There shall be potatoes as well, but not just any potatoes: these are Yukon Gold Potatoes! Sixteen plants worth, enough to feed us for months, maybe even years. And Green Beans, Bush Providers, an indeterminate which grows as long as the season allows. And Corn, two varieties of Corn, Golden Bantam and Peaches and Cream, standing tall and watching over the other plants. And of course, there shall be Cucumbers. Cucumbers for pickling, such as the Boston Pickling variety, the Sumter variety, the County Fair variety, and of course the National Pickling variety. Cucumbers for slicing and adding to a salad such as the Straight 8 and Marketmore variety.
I may throw in a few Jalapeno's for good measure, to add to the salsa and the odd pot of summer chili we make. Who knows what all shall be grown in this garden?
I am the Lord and Master of all I survey!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!
Settle down now
I'm okay I'm okay I'm okay. Whew, got carried away there with the feeling, the powerful feeling of growing food for the table. I can honestly say it is such a pleasure to wander out to the garden and pick some tomatoes and come in, make a pasta sauce and have it for dinner. Or to dig up a few 'taters, pick some green beans, toss them in a pot and cook for the day then enjoy them for dinner. Bar-B-Que a steak on the grill and pick some corn for a Saturday afternoon meal. Pick a five gallon bucket full of pickles and can them, only to watch as your son pops a jar open as soon as they've cooled down, smacking his lips in pure enjoyment. At this point I have to tell you: every time we open a jar of pickles he comes running to the kitchen, placing his nose as close tot he jar as possible in order to get that first wafty wafty scent as the jar is opened. I tell you, it is both intoxicating and satisfying to know you grew these foods, there are no preservatives or other harmful chemicals in them, and they are fresh fresh fresh!
Really, no one has an excuse to not grow their own for fun and table. There are kits you can buy, kits to make an above ground raised bed to grow veggies in. Seeds are better than ever, with a high rate of probability of sprouting. I usually place two to three seeds in each area to make sure a plant grows and far more often than not I have to thin the seedlings, leaving the strongest plant to continue. Then it is simply a matter of staying on top of the weeds several times a week, wandering about with a small hoe to remove the undesirables from your plants. If you're lucky, you will have something to eat in a couple of months, something you created, from your sweat and your work, and believe me it will taste better than any store bought vegetable you have even eaten in your life.
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And so I now head back out to the greenhouse to sow a few more seeds in preparation of planting the emerging seedlings in the garden in the near future. And then waiting, caring for and ultimately harvesting food for our table.
Who knows, sometime in the future I might be singing another song in the back yard, one from another musical. Channeling Gordon MacRae while riding a horse through the garden and singing...