The peas are in! I don’t know how you feel about peas, so this may or may not be exciting news for you. Certainly some are feeling smug, for their own peas are probably not only in but up a few inches, so you will be eating peas before I do. To which I reply with that Ozark declaration, “Well! Ain’t you somethin!”
As for what peas and how many, since there’s just one of me, I planted a short, four foot row of Sugar Ann snap peas along the east fence of the garden – snap peas because I find them more versatile and less troublesome to harvest and prepare, and because I like the nice, satisfying crunch when using them raw.And Sugar Ann because they produce a shorter vine more nearly the height of my four foot high garden fence. I know the original Sugar Snap boasts a 10-foot vine, but I have no intention of either building a 10-foot trellis or trying to pick them while balancing on a ladder whose feet are resting on my soft and untrustworthy garden soil. I think the message I’m trying to come to is that one whose intent is to have peas should decide what they like best and plant those.Some will choose delicate snow peas; others will be content with nothing but the traditional English peas (of which the old standard Lincoln variety is still tops for taste and abundance, incidentally. But don’t settle for less than your favorite. If you don’t have favorites, experiment. Just don’t try to mimic what I’m doing unless that’s what you really want. You’ll be happier that way, and you’ll have peas! I can hardly wait. If it ever stops raining, I’m going to plant way too many potatoes next. And tell me. How does your garden grow?
My new book of gardening essays, titled Crosspatch: Cranky Musings on Gardening in Rocky Ground
has arrived at the printer, has been accepted, and proof copies will arrive October 15 – just in time for the holidays!
It’s 254 pages jam-packed with thoughts, notions, some wee bits of wisdom and loads of odds and ends on gardening as the valuable, healing meditative expression of hands in dirt and head in the clouds – a uniquely human effort that feeds both body and soul. It’s the total gardening me, guaranteed to be out standing in my field.
Those of you who followed my years-long gardening column in the West Plains Daily Quill
and/or my radio essays “These Ozark Hills”
will find some of these pieces familiar. They (no pun intended) cover a lot of ground. I can’t wait for you to see it, read it and let me know what you think! The book will be available at a variety of outlets by Halloween or before. Or you can order an autographed copy from me.
“I’m pleased to announced that on June 30 in the wee hours of the morning, I finished the first draft of my collected essays on gardening and garden-related writings. It’s still a few weeks away from its final version, but it looks pretty good. I have a few pieces I’ll have to lay in by hand, as there’s no digital copy. And even though I like 12 point type because it’s easier on these elderly eyes, I may have to take it down to 11 point, because even without the additions it clocks in at 270 pages in a 6X9 format. I will also be making it available as an ebook. Thinking about calling it Crosspatch, after my newspaper gardening column. More to come.”
Well, you’ll never guess what I’ve been doing. I’ve been spending these long hot afternoons, when the outside is not fit to be outside, in gathering up all the loose pieces of gardening commentery I’ve generated over the past decade and something, either from newspaper columns or blabs I’ve created for the radio – and putting them together in one place. Thinking I’ll make a book of them, and maybe an e-book as well. I’ve tried a number of things in a number of places over the years, and have learned a few things as well as discovered that some of the gardening knowledge I’ve held most dear just isn’t so. I’ll be posting a sample soon and you can tell me what you think of it if you like. It’ll be more musings than science, but I had fun going back through some of my experiences and reflections, and I hope you will too. Stay tuned.
I moved again, two and something years ago, and this will be my third garden in this little patch. I’ve changed its size and shape every year as I’ve searched for a manageable size and best, or at least better, practices. The first year I made it as big as I had fencing for, and because I had a more or less full time assistant who shared with me a gardening addiction. We harvested a lot of food, although between tending the garden and putting up its bounty it was almost more work than fun. Almost.
Then, just as the year two garden was getting underway, I was diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer that tried to kill me once before. That garden’s success was due, almost exclusively, to Sarah’s hard work, with a sizable assist from her sweet companion Gene. They did the lion’s share and I mostly watched and kibitzed. Kibitz is a word of Yiddish origin and refers to a person who gives advice and commentary whether asked for or not. It’s akin to the back-seat-driver syndrome. That was me last year.
But then late last fall, Sarah was sidelined by her own health problems, and was also faced with the more pleasant prospect of a new domestic life with Gene, back at her own home in Arkansas. So I was faced this spring with the reality of doing a garden mostly on my own, and with strength and stamina seriously sapped by the effects of prolonged radiation treatments and coming to terms generally with the fact that although my head is still in my 40s, my body has entered it’s seventh decade and is not remotely interested in finding extra work to do. So I downsized. Details, more, probably, than you’d care to hear, to follow.
Here are a few of the hundreds of photos Sarah took of the 2013 garden.
I started this garden column literally decades ago, before there was an internet, actually, when I was a reporter at The West Plains Quill and we were doing our writing on those Tandy green-screen computers with no memory. That meant if you saved your story to disk and there was something wrong with the disk, you got to do it over. One day, after I’d been waxing eloquently in the newsroom about the wonders of my then current garden, I was handed the gardening page. I was delighted, because I have lots of opinions about gardening, as well as a passion for all things gardening, not the least of which is growing one. I lived in lots of places in my life, and have gardened whenever and wherever possible, including the most of a year I spent in New England and planted a garden I would never harvest. At my age, planting fruit trees are likely to come to the same result. I can’t help it. It’s an addiction.
The only thing that scratches the itch other than having my hands in the dirt is talking about it. And since I live alone with no close neighbors, I’m way more likely to be doing my talking in typescript, even digital typescript. So I’m firing up this long neglected blog space to scratch the itch, and natter on and on about gardening. I’ll tell about what I’m doing out there in the dirt, what I’m thinking about doing, or used to do, or may still do. And since number 3 on my addiction list is books about gardening, I’ll be talking about those as well. Join me, if you will.
Saturday’s another day, in which some possible high points include “Happythankyoumoreplease” and “Five Star Day.” Or I may start earlier and pop over to the Clinton School for a showing of “Citizen Architect.”
June 7, 2010
And maybe I’ll have enough sense to either stay in for breakfast at the hotel (whose chef studied with Emeril), or go out earlier, so I don’t roast, like I did Friday, on the way back from the River Market, where the food court featured offerings from basic barbecue to falafel, with Cajun, Mexican and several others in between, and flanked on each end by coffee roasteries and bakeries. I had the falafel, coffee and a cinnamon roll. For breakfast.