By LYNNE IRONS
I have a word to the wise. After a certain age, the best thing to cultivate in gardening is young friends. A big thank you to Amanda, Zoe, Sam and Marie for all their help last weekend. Hopefully we will grow plenty to eat and share. We put in four different varieties of strawberries (both June and everbearing), turnips and onions. We picked up rocks until our arms didn’t work and hoed until we developed blisters. Everyone remained in good humor, at least to my face.
People, please, stop treating forsythia like a privet hedge. I noticed several properly pruned bushes — at Jenni Bick’s (formerly Mary Ann’s silk-screening building), David Finklestein’s office, the telephone company on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, and Nancy’s cobbler shop. They are all lovely and airy and not all chopped into a big ball.
I took a drive up-Island last Saturday. Talk about some stunning stands of daffodils — Heather Gardens, up-Island Cronig’s, Vineyard Gardens, the antique gas pump on North Road, and, of course, the Larsen home at Beetlebung Corner. Then coming back on Middle Road, I lost count of all the yellow wonders of spring. I had a conversation with my mother the following morning who mentioned how great the standard daffodils were this year around the old post office in Rew, Pa. Our family used to own the building (both my mother and grandmother, Nonnie, were postmasters.) My great-grandmother, Mama Armstrong, was the gardener in the family. She planted those bulbs back in the 1930s or 1940s. I do not seem to have great success with daffodils; they do not spread freely for me the way I see them in my wildest dreams. Oh, well.
I planted some onion seeds in the unheated greenhouse back in February. I sprinkled them generously in flats. One packet of Early Yellow Globe filled four flats. I sat on a stool a week ago and divided one flat into my garden, plant by plant. They were the size of pencil leads. I counted 200 individuals in one flat. Doing the math, that means I get 100 onions from one $2.50 package of seeds — more than enough for my family’s onion requirements for a year — if I don’t count my time (I do not — it belongs to me).
About 30 of us in the homegrown group met for the big seedling and tubers swap last Sunday afternoon. We discussed potato planting methods and Melinda DeFeo entertained us with a brief history of the Irish potato famine.
I was tickled to discover the tiny tip of my first asparagus spear this week. They come up so quickly that a daily check is necessary. They are so delicious raw and rarely make it into the house. My patch is over 15 years old and has served me well. I should be able to pick for a full two months this year. The last few years I’ve picked for six weeks before letting it go to fern. The really fun part is that I started it from seed. I didn’t cut it at all for three years. Gardening is the only area of my life where I am able to practice patience.
I am happy to have a President willing to play nice with others. I wonder if we will finally be able to drop the 50-year-old trade embargo with Cuba? We seem to have no problem with China which lends us money so we can buy their cheap stuff. What exactly do we mean when we take the democracy and human rights platform with some countries?