Springlike weather makes me itching to grab a hoe



March 13, 2015 - 12:00 AM

You’ll never find “master gardener” after my name, but with this week’s warmer weather and a drive-by look at the Elm Creek Community Garden’s freshly worked soil, the thought of diving into the garden space wife Beverly and I have reserved is on my mind.
Years ago John Zahm — you remember, the friendly barber for years on West Street — invited me to share a huge garden just northwest of Riverside Park. We planted 100 pounds of potatoes and lots of other things. By the way, two pounds of green bean seeds will produce more than what two families can consume in a year’s time.
To ensure success, we rigged up a pump and drew water from a nearby gravel pit. We poured so much on a couple of rows of sweet corn that the stalks reached six or seven feet.
Three or four years of intense gardening was enough for me, even though it was in my blood. When I was a kid we had a full lot dedicated to a garden in east Humboldt.
Beverly also grew up in a family — the Mintzes — that gardened on a large scale. They enjoyed “fresh from the garden” and her dad, Lacy, was good at preservation.
She tried her hand at container gardening for a handful of years in our small backyard on South Cottonwood, with marginal results.
Last year she decided the Elm Creek experience would be good. She and brother Monty put in potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and onions. I watched from a distance, convinced my gardening gene was in hibernation.
Then a funny thing happened. One day I stopped by to see how all was going, took a round at hilling potatoes and was hooked again.
On a trip to Roswell, N.M., to see daughter Brenda I had stopped by a cotton field in West Texas and picked up a handful the picker missed, including six or eight seeds.
Cotton is a 120-day crop and I soon realized that planting on July 1 was about two months too late. Even so one of the plants shot up to better than waist high and had 35 or 40 bolls formed by late September. Only one broke open, but it was interesting to watch the growth pattern.
This year, with more seed from West Texas, I plan to plant a whole row around May 1. That should be early enough for full term ahead of cold weather.
Now if I can talk Beverly into doing a little carding, spinning and weaving, maybe I can have a new cotton shirt come fall.

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