By LYNNE IRONS
My good friend Jenny (mother of this column’s illustrator) and I have been complaining and making fun of ourselves as aging baby boomers. What’s up with this hobbling around in the morning, frequent trips to the dentist, glasses and aching knees? Now granted one of the culprits is misspent youth. Many of my aches and pains are directly related to gardening. A word to the wise — stop jumping off the back of the truck! During one heavy snowstorm I injured my knees snowshoeing while hauling five-gallon buckets of warm water to bust ice in animal waterers. Luckily Francie Desmone, the Allegheny acupuncturist, saved me from certain surgery.
The Felco company makes a good pair of garden snips with a rotating handle. It is meant to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome when pruning all day. I need to purchase a pair.
When raking leaves at this time of year it is important to switch sides every several strokes to prevent lower back pain. It will seem awkward at first when trying to navigate the rake on your “bad side” but keep practicing and you will become ambidextrous.
This column has a way of keeping me honest. Several weeks ago I promised to cut up the rest of a bushel of apples into sauce. I finally got around to it. The rest of the fruit made its way into the Thanksgiving pies.
I am grateful to live on the Vineyard. Our falls and winters are mild compared to the rest of the Northeast. My brother reported two feet of snow blanketing my hometown of Rew, Pa. He has been plowing driveways every day for two weeks. He reminded me of our childhood. A claustrophobic effect happened when the snow piled along the walks and drives was taller than our dad by several feet.
Don’t misread me. I love snow. It is so beautiful and enjoyed immensely by children. However, for those of us who have fashioned our lives around outdoor employment and activities, it can become problematic. It seems we have to move it around endlessly. I tend to run the truck up and down the driveway rather than shovel.
I am not eating many vegetables. I cannot bring myself to purchase them at the market. Fortunately I still have kale and leeks in the garden. My greenhouse door blew off last week so a revamping is in order. It is too late or too soon to plant any more lettuce and spinach in there. I ate all that had been started in early September. Next year I need more to get me through Christmas.
Right after winter solstice is the time to start seedlings in the greenhouses and cold frames as long as it thaws during the day. The light gets stronger every day after the solstice.
I rummaged around in the freezer for the bags of alfalfa and fenugreek seeds. I started both for sprouts. They need to soak overnight in a jar with a screen on top. For the next few days I rinse them several times. As soon as they begin sprouting I move them into bamboo baskets to finish off. Keep them dark until the last day. Because my house is chilly they take longer. If your home is warm they should be edible in a few days. They are a great source of vitamins and a satisfying homegrown product.
Kathy Lobb and I were discussing the criticism I have received for being political. First of all, since the election results came in, I haven’t had much material. Secondly, gardening, especially for food production, is political. I like to think that I do my part in addressing global warming by growing and eating locally. Our refrigerators use more petroleum than our automobiles. Just look at the origins of our market produce and think how much it costs for shipping from, say, Guatemala. The labels are misleading. For example, Olivia’s organic greens say they are packaged in New England but that does not mean they were grown here. The canned Dole or Delmonte fruit in the produce section says packaged in the USA, but it was grown in China by poorly paid laborers, often children. We owe it to our world to become more aware and more observant.