Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meanwhile, up in the North Forty . . .

. . . Spring has Sprung! After living most of my life in Illinois I am happy to be back for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is gardening. The spousal unit is a wonderful landscaper and each of our homes has been over the top when it comes to trees, shrubs and flowers. Vegetables, however, were my territory before we first left Illinois and since then have all been purchased at a grocery store. Do you know how many years it's been since I've eaten a tomato that actually tasted like a tomato?

I haven't done much with gardening over the years we've spent in Georgia and Florida other than some hostas and a few flowers. Georgia has its copperheads, frightening but very colorful spiders and scorpions. And oh yeah, you need a pile driver to make a hole in the clay. In Florida we have our pygmy rattlers, the very aggressive black racers, and my niece's personal favorite, the wheel bug, one of the largest terrestrial true bugs in North America according to Wikipedia.

Perhaps the worst killer of gardening fun in the south is the fire ant. Your chances of being attacked are 50/50 anywhere you step or kneel. Been there. Done that. Not so fun.

In years long past it was my habit to purchase veggie seedlings rather than seeds. This year I decided to try something new -- starting seeds. For some strange and unknown reason a previous owner of the house we are renting installed a rather large hot tub in the upstairs bathroom. This is in addition to a normal tub and shower. The room is quite large, especially for such an old home. My helpful and quick-thinking spousal unit retrieved a good chunk of plywood from the batcave (basement) and placed it over the hot tub. Taking a tip from our daughter Kristen, I got us a nice electric blanket to warm the little seeds. Plastic trays with 72 Jiffy Pellets each were a great buy at Walmart for $5 or $6 each.

I spent most of Monday afternoon sowing the seeds I purchased. Nothing unusual or heirloom, just some flowers and green beans, some herbs and zucchini, cucumbers and TOMATOS, TOMATOS, TOMATOS (of the beefsteak variety). Now, only three days later, I've opened the incubators to find that babies have been born! If I've catalogued the trays properly, we're on our way (so far) to morning glories and basil. Can't wait!


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