This week we have had the typical Minnesota weather, rain, sleet, snow, thunder, lightning and 50 mph wind gusts. If the saying that “April showers brings May flowers”, well we should be in good abundance here come May.
Each day it is getting closer and closer to planting season here in the North. Because the season is so short here in Minnesota, many of us will start plants indoors in hopes of them thriving and ready to be planted outdoors come late May or early June when the danger of frost is supposedly over. There are no guarantees that we won’t have a freeze or snow at the beginning of June, but usually it is safe to assume Summer is here.
The other day we were at Fleet Farm and I was looking at seeds and trying to figure out my garden this year. I have a raised garden that is about 4 foot wide and 20 feet long. Luckily it is down by the old chicken coop and pump where no one can see it unless they walk down there. I always try to plant the usual tomatoes, beans and onions and then will add the space consuming zucchini and squash. And it always starts out great, everything has a place and everything strategically located for the best sunlight and moisture needed. And then it happens.
I will have a beautifully growing garden, tomato plants staked, pole beans climbing the tripod poles I have made for them and zucchini and squash starting to sprawl and cover the open ground. It looks perfect. The warmth of the sun and my gentle watering gets them going perfectly. I actually begin to feel like I know what I am doing and it is going to work this time. Until we get a 2-3 day rain and I am not out there to pluck up the weeds that grow faster than the plants. By the time the rains stop and I wander out to the garden, the weeds are now embedded around all the vegetable plants and towering towards the sky. It happens just that fast. And it becomes a 4 x 20 foot jungle of tangled weeds and a few vegetable plants.
I have realized that I have not inherited the gardening gene from my parents or grandparents who could stick anything in dirt and it would grow and flourish. I remember my dad growing beautiful rose bushes when I was pretty young. He had all kinds of colored roses in the yard. And my mom, while not as much of an outdoor gardener, she could grow anything in a pot inside. She had beautiful African violets that were full thick with deep purple blossoms. She would always give me one and within a few weeks it would be dead.
My grandma had massive flower and vegetable gardens all over her yard. In her later years when the arthritis was so hard on her back and the rest of her body, she would lie on her side with her elbow propping her head and that was how she weeded her garden. I remember the first time seeing this was when we pulled up to the backyard and grandma was sprawled out next to her strawberry patch, not really moving. It was a sky blue warm sunny day. My first thought as I was rushing to her was , “well at least she died peacefully in her garden where she loved to be”. But then she popped up and was sitting there with a big bowl of fresh strawberries that she had picked to have with our lunch she had ready.
But back to my gardening ability. I have none. I can’t even grow rhubarb which should come up yearly without doing anything to it. Nope, I may get one stalk from the year before planting, but it never turns into more than stalk. The rhubarb that I planted a few years ago, still only gives me one stalk. And as easy as everyone has told me asparagus is to grow, saying it will take over everything, I have tried the last 4 years to plant it. Last year I actually had some coming up that I had just planted a month or so before. But bless my little grand-daughters hearts for “weeding” the garden for me. All the weeds were still there, but they pulled up the asparagus, baby tomato plants and some radishes. This year we are alone here so it is only me and hopefully my Best Half working in the garden. I am so hoping he takes an interest in the garden because between us, he has the green thumb. It may not be a deep forest green thumb, but it is at least not the black thumb of death that I seem to have.
It is now about 6 weeks or so before we can start to safely put out some of the plants for this year’s garden. I chose Brussels Sprouts, Eggplants, Spaghetti and Zucchini Squash, Rutabaga, and of course Tomatoes, and Beans and Onions. The Sprouts and Eggplants are just popping up in a seed tray. They look spindly and like if I breathe on them they will wilt and die. So I am just leaving them alone in a warm spot by a window. We shall see if they even make it to the garden. But like every other year during gardening season, I have a Plan B…the Amish vegetable stand up North of us, and the produce department at the grocery store up town. Stay tuned.