Today, Sunday May 8, 2016, I got serious about my garden. I had tilled a few weeks ago, before going to Rome for a couple of weeks. Today I tilled the garden again, mowed the lawn in my back lot, watered my rhubarb, and young ponderosa pine trees, and got my tomato cages in order.
The soil in my garden is dry. It seems dangerously dry for so early in the season. The tiller was able to move easily through the soil today. When the wind came up, as it periodically did, the dust actually blew.
I have two gardens and a number of pots in which I plant cherry tomatoes along the perimeter of my house.
The larger garden is approximately 40 by 30 feet, with a ten by ten foot raspberry patch near the north end. The garlic I planted in the fall occupies a six by six foot square on the southwest corner. There is a small asparagus patch on the northwest corner
A significant percentage of this year’s garden will feature Italian vegetables from seeds I smuggled out of Italy two weeks ago. I do this to honor Jefferson, who smuggled upland rice seeds out of Italy to introduce into the Carolinas.
For five or six weeks I have been growing tomatoes and cucumbers in my dining room. They are big, strong, beautiful, and ready to transplant. I won’t do that until after Memorial Day. It can freeze in North Dakota right up to the first week of June. I doubt that will happen this year, but North Dakota makes optimists pay a price almost every year.The second garden is my Square IX Jefferson garden. My friend Pat Brodowski of Monticello sends me Jefferson seeds. I send her Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara seeds, mostly the ones that Meriwether Lew
is collected while he was here between October 1804 and April 1805. She’s a master gardener, and Jefferson was right when he called Albemarle County a perfect growing climate.
The temperature today was about 75 degrees. It took about an hour to till and about two hours to mow the back lawn
The dastardly pheasant that has turned my life into a pale version of Caddy Shack was not in sight today. But the male wakes me up most mornings with a sickly suburban “grek, grek, grek.” His days are numbered. My paint gun strategy last year failed miserably, though it gave me a hundred blue streaks in the lawn. This year I have more vengeful plans for the pheasants, but I dare not divulge them, lest my next dispatch is from Ft. Leavenworth prison.
Stay tuned. I will plant about half of the garden this week. I’m watering the ponderosa pines as I write this. It’s Mother’s Day. I’ll make my mother a rhubarb pie from rhubarb transplanted from my grandmother Rhoda’s farm in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Mother loves rhubarb more than any other pie.