Wet spring causing late gardens – Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm

Opinion

We finally got our garden in, about a month late, we figure. There was way too much rain, and the ground was far too wet to do any tilling. What a spring! On the days when we could have possibly tilled, we were doing something else, like mowing knee-high grass. Last year, the asparagus and rhubarb were just starting to poke out of the ground when we tilled and planted. This year, the asparagus and rhubarb were tall, tough, and going to seed when we got started. Better late than never.

The weeds grew tall and thick in the untilled garden. Out of desperation, while I was spraying the gravel drive with herbicide, I also sprayed the garden in an attempt to knock down the weeds. It rained that night, and for many days to follow, so I hope the herbicide on the garden doesn’t do any damage to the freshly planted vegetable seeds. At least we didn’t have the flooding so many people did.

When we were able to till, we were amazed at how nicely the black Iowa earth did turn over, the now thigh-high weeds grinding up and disappearing like confetti after a wildfire. We’ll see how fast the weeds return to compete with all that we planted.

I cleaned the chicken manure out of the hen house for the last time—you may recall that a mink killed all our chickens—and spread the rich fertilizer on the garden. I have been criticized roundly by one of my readers for using chicken manure on the garden—telling me it would burn the plants and ruin the flavor.

To the contrary, we sure had a nice garden last year and everything, like the tomatoes, beans and sweet corn, were delicious. (The peas failed to germinate, however. Too much fertilizer?) Since there will be no more chicken manure, I will have to use something else in the future, like cow manure (more mild).

When we were buying seed, Ginnie and I got a little carried away. We planted five different kinds of corn—Bodacious, Incredible, Peaches & Cream, Indian Corn, and Strawberry Popcorn. To run in the corn, like children playing peek-a-boo, we planted hills of jack-o-lantern pumpkins and colorful gourds. They may not be ready by Halloween, but they sure will be fun.

Adjacent to the corn, we planted sweet and red onions, Huskie Cherry Red, Better Boy, Red Beef Steak and Early Girl tomatoes, as well as Big Red Sweet Peppers. Perpendicular to the corn, onions, tomatoes and peppers, like showing their better side, are Romaine, Butter Crunch and Cutting Blend lettuce (it may be too hot for lettuce); red and white radishes; spinach, carrots, okra; Super Snap and Early Frosty Shell Peas; Blue Lake and Top Crop Beans; and cucumbers.

Ginnie said she wanted to spend more time in the garden when she retired, which she did this first of June—that should do it! Her new pressure cooker is going to get a workout! As well as me—shucking, snapping and shelling.

BTW: as we were planting, farmers in nearby fields were also planting, driving mega equipment with tracks instead of wheels and GPS steering systems. Hoe in hand, I’m sure we looked comical. If the farmers have a crop, so will we, by golly.

FaceBook has a sometimes interesting, sometimes irritating feature of showing a picture we posted a year ago. Wouldn’t you know, one year ago we were proudly showing off pumpkin blooms. This year on the same date, we were planting the pumpkins. Grrr.

With the garden in, and needing rain, it quit raining. Tsk. At least we got caught up on the mowing. All those grass clippings will make for good weed control between the rows of Eden.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.

About Chuck Vandenberg 4869 Articles
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