April 17, 2016
Today, I bought a hoe.
This is significant.
You see, back in the Dark Ages when I was a kid, my parents had a massive garden. About an acre and a half. Plus fruit trees, plus a pasture with cows, plus, for a while, a hog pen. And a truck patch. One must never forget the truck patch. I’m not sure why one calls it a truck patch, but it was basically a late garden, planted in a low-lying, damp spot in midsummer so it could yield in the late summer and early fall when everything else had, sensibly, quit.
We didn’t eat much we didn’t grow.
And about a half-century ago, when I got big enough to wield a hoe reasonably well, I got put to work helping to tend the garden. Hoeing it, picking bugs off tomatoes (I hate a damn tobacco worm to this day), picking, preserving.
I hated it. HATED it. I wanted to be out playing with my friends, or reading the latest Nancy Drew, or watching Days of Our Lives or Dark Shadows, or at the pool in town. I did NOT want to be on the business end of a hoe. Swore, when I grew up and got away from home, I’d NEVER do that again.
Never say never.
Fast-forward a few decades, and I started dipping my toe back into that water. First there were herbs in pots. Then there came the making of refrigerator pickles from produce bought at the farmers’ market. Then there was the picking up of pears and figs, and making of pear preserves. Then there were attempts at tomatoes in pots (those didn’t work). More ventures into canning and freezing. Finally, this year, I’ve taken the plunge. I got someone to come over and till up a couple of garden plots, 6-x-12 feet each, plus my front flower bed.
And today, I bought a hoe. And tomato plants. And herbs. And seeds for squash, zucchini, cucumbers and pole beans.
And my mother is perched on a cloud up in heaven, laughing hysterically at me. OK, Mama. You win. I’m back. You always did know better.
Yes, we’re gardening.
Today, after Children B&C and all the grandchildren left (and THAT has been fun, and a marvelous weekend, can I just tell you?), and after I took a much-needed nap and the Cards had pulled out a win at Cincy, I went to Lowe’s. I got my plants, a good variety of Roma, cherry, grape, heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, as well as a range of herbs (no tarragon, once again; will have to go to Home Depot in search of tarragon, because I think that’s where I found it last year); a hoe, and another 100 feet of garden hose. Was going to buy compost, to enrich that yard dirt that has supported a lovely crop of bermuda, but no veggies; Lowe’s was out. I’ll have to do that when they restock next week. Came home, used the new hoe to finish breaking up and smoothing out the flower bed, and planted all my herbs. Tomorrow, I’ll try to get out and do the clod-busting on the garden plots, in preparation for getting the compost on them and getting them ready to plant later in the week.
My tentative plan is to put all tomatoes in one plot; pole beans (hadn’t planned on those, but they had Kentucky Wonders!) in one of the plots, along with the smaller tomato varieties. The front bed will be given over to the squash, zucchini and cucumbers, although I’m reserving the right to move the cucumbers back to one of the plots if the tomatoes don’t take up as much room as I think they might.
If we’re really lucky, we’ll have enough tomatoes to can a few now and again. I don’t kid myself I will have enough yield to can all I’ll need or want for the winter, but I’m hoping for plenty to eat and a few to put up.
If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wanted to come on over and take a turn with the brand new hoe, I would not take it amiss.