The Crankee Yankee and I are getting the four raised bed gardens ready for planting this year (well, he is, anyway–all I’ve done is yank a few weeds so far). All of the garlic we planted last fall has sprouted into long delicious scapes, and both peony plants (the older one we call “Big Pinky” has doubled in size from last year, and the other smaller one, “Sarah Bernhardt, “we only planted last year) are full of fat pink buds ready to pop into flower.
Our dear gardener friend up the road has already been by to share her wealth of sweet onions, heirloom tomatoes and a squash plant. The Crankee Yankee has picked up the pea seeds and the broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower seedlings, as well as the seedling Yukon Gold potatoes. We are also going to put in carrots, beets, radishes, and herbs.
Also, he went a little nuts this year and brought home two Pepto-Bismol pink plastic flamingoes that go nicely with our garden gnome, “Uncle Winkelbaum.” The Crankee Yankee is nothing if not whimsical.
After days of scorching heat and not a drop of rain in sight, we welcomed a deluge of rain and lower temps yesterday, and surprise–on the first day of June it’s still raining hard. So we are off and running, and hope for at least as much abundance as we had last year.
My grandmother and my late mother-in-law were great gardeners. They always planted loads of vegetables and flowers, and everything they touched bloomed magnificently. My grandmother’s flowers were always amazing–she had at Hobbit-esque way of encouraging their growth and beauty. If regular columbine flowers were half the size of a child’s palm, hers were large enough to cover an adult’s palm.
The Crankee Yankee always recalls his mother’s glorious produce from their garden in the back yard. It took up nearly the entire back yard, and they ate out of it all summer long. In the fall, she canned, preserved and pickled whatever was left in the garden. Growing up, every woman I knew did the same.
We rookie gardeners are now on our second year of gardening. We learned from our mistakes from last year, such as planting the peas so close to the road you risked your life backing out into traffic. We learned that skunks adore rhubarb (the little stinkers ate every leaf last year), so the plan is to plant it smack in the middle of the onions (we’ve heard that the skunks aren’t keen on them). We learned the hard way that you have to mound up beets just as you do for potatoes, or you’ll end up with large beet “marbles” (which were actually pretty good, despite their size).
The Crankee Yankee, always wise to weather reports, got the seedlings into the ground before the rain came. So all our starter stuff is right where it should be, and later on this week we’ll put the rest in. We still can’t get over the fact that last year we hardly bought a bit of produce, and are hoping for the same this year.
Oh, us urban gardeners are so proud of our produce, even if the you can use the largest beet as a shooter in a game of marbles! Even though the Crankee Yankee and I were lucky enough to grow up in times where everyone had a garden, and every mom pickled, preserved and canned everything so that you could enjoy the sweet taste of summer in mid-winter–we still marvel that what we plant grows and flourishes.
It’s kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it–the effort you put into something shows in the flowering of that effort. I am sure that my grandmother, in fact all my female ancestors, and my wonderful late mother-in-law; are all laughing their heads off in Heaven while enjoying untold cups of coffee. They are probably saying, “Would you just look at them working away in their garden–maybe they were listening to us all that time!” or “Hey, you–don’t plant those tomatoes so close to the basil!” Or more likely, “you can plant all the rhubarb you want in the onions, but the damned skunks are going to get them anyway!”
To all the gardeners out there, good luck, good growth and good eating.