By LYNNE IRONS
Sometimes in the early 1980s I bought myself a Troybilt Pony rototiller. I used it like a mad woman. Keep in mind I was almost 30 years younger. I finally got sick of dislocating my shoulder trying to start the darn thing. I gave it away last year. I was tempted to put it on the side off the road hoping someone with a big truck and a mechanic friend would cart it out of here. I am much happier now using the Ruth Stout method of adding more hay every year. I lay flakes in the spring and pull enough back just enough to place a plant or seed. As the weeds grow, I pile on more hay. Ruth said that hay is just manure that didn’t go through the horse first!
I have actually resorted to placing some old bales along an embankment and planting a seed right in the bale. This works fine for squash or cucumbers. A top dressing of Pro-Gro (North Country Organics) will give an added boost. In the past I have bragged about my success with potato growing in just hay.
I started a garden on pure sand years ago. I hauled in bags of leaves found on curbsides, shoveled a remarkable amount of manure back when it was free for the taking, gathered coffee grounds and egg shells from various restaurants, and pitchforked truckloads of eel grass from along the seawall in Oak Bluffs.
I mixed them all winter long, moving the pile from one end to another. Again, let me stress my youth and enthusiasm. I have been blessed to live on the same piece of land all these years with the best neighbors in the world (Peg and Jerry Goodale). They have tolerated all-night rooster song, pig chases and an occasional errant donkey with incredible good humor and generosity.
The season got away from me and I neglected to order garlic bulbs for fall planting. I tried my favorite Pine Tree Garden Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds, SBS and Vineyard Gardens. All were sold out. As luck would have it, I discovered several bulbs I missed during last July’s harvesting. They had redeveloped into seedlings from the cloves. I yanked them, separated, and replanted several rows. Then, Abigail Higgins was kind to share extras with an eclectic group of us who met last Sunday afternoon at the Agricultural Hall. It was the first of monthly meetings of Island Homegrown. All are welcome who have any or no garden experience but would love to gab on the subject. The next gathering is Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. again at the Ag Hall.
I heard a segment on National Public Radio about people in Third World countries who use miscanthus for fuel. Miscanthus is the tall ornamental grass seen at several locations on Island. My friend Phyllis McMorrow and I were talking about it. She mentioned that she has witnessed it on fire. It goes up like a torch which gave us pause about planting near dwellings. We have decided we are no longer fond of it. It reseeds in an invasive manner, is messy mid-winter, and impossible to transplant without the aid of a young strong man.
What is all this brouhaha concerning a Detroit automaker bailout? I, for one, am in favor of my tax dollar going almost anywhere except war. However, why do we all need new cars every five minutes? I drive a 1984 F150. It starts every morning. When something breaks I replace with brand new parts and I certainly contribute to the economy with the checks I write my mechanic!