Gardener's Grapevine 2012.03.21

Written by David Green.

It’s a wet, drab Sunday afternoon. Art assured me last evening that it wouldn’t rain. Now I have a wagon full of brush and rainwater. Apparently he wasn’t cut out to be a weatherman.

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned up the vegetable garden, pruned, and moved and tied up the raspberries. My dad came home and said he knew of better things to do on a Saturday afternoon. Really, dad? Better than playing in the dirt until all your muscles scream for mercy and you look like you took a dirt bath? What could possibly be more fun? Certainly all the scratches from the prickly canes qualify as fun.

My Uncle Dwight is the first person I know of to can something this year. He canned horseradish from our garden. He retired this past year and has always been a big gardener. He and my aunt taught me to can when I first got married.

He showed me his plant starts and they look great. He has some very nice tomato plants he started from seed. They are about 3-4 inches tall with nice sturdy stems. He also started a bean plant indoors, which produced two beans so far. My aunt laughingly said she’d stir-fry them for him if he wants.

As I’ve said before, it is extremely hard to start tomatoes from seed, and my uncle makes it look so easy. He is trying the toilet paper roll starters that I talked about a couple of months ago. Using the center of toilet paper rolls to start plants, and then transplanting them while they are still in the rolls made a lot of sense to me. I can’t wait to see his results. Like everything else, I bet it works great for him. He just has a green thumb gardener’s touch.

Art planted peas yesterday and he probably will have a great harvest with our weather the way it is. I hope the freezing weather is past. I always worry about that one last bad frost on tender new leaves, but hopefully we won’t get one.

Lori at the library said she couldn’t help it, she uncovered her plants and is taking her chances…true gardeners just can’t help themselves! As Art and I were working in the garden, we talked about how we had tried the garden mounding idea last year and how we felt about it. We both felt it worked really well. It made it easier to pick and maintain and there were fewer weeds. I do know we have cleaned up fewer weeds so far. Art has a bad hip and repeated bending is hard, so this has made gardening a bit easier on him.

What you do is till the garden and mound the rows up. It looks like we have a bunch of graves in the garden. The following years you are not supposed to have to till it again, just reuse the mounds. Art did till between the mounds to re-pile the dirt up and to plant the peas in the lower area, since they will harvest earlier than the rest. The idea is to use the lower areas as pathways.

Art was concerned with water shedding off the mounds last year so this year we are going to run a soaker hose or drip irrigation hose down the rows on the mounds. We had a nice harvest but he thinks the harvest will improve with increased water. Whatever makes him happy and keeps him out of trouble works for me! After all he’s the engineer in the family. My happiness is in seeing a plant from seed to full fruition and knowing I did that. Spring arrives this week. Enjoy.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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