I need to fall on my sword. Last week’s column had several typographical errors for which I need to accept full responsibility. As you may know I hand write this column, and my unfortunate editor picks it up and has to enter it into a computer. Pity him! He needs to sort through my not altogether impeccable penmanship. My third grade teacher would, as they say, turn in her grave.
What a week in the garden world. People are reporting all over town: yellow crocuses at Katherine Steward’s, daffodils at the Vineyard Haven post office, witch hazels blooming at Brookside Farm and Middletown Nursery and hellebores at the First Baptist.
Experts and common folk alike are astonished at such an early spring at the end of a nonexistent winter. I have lived on the Vineyard since May of 1970 and do not recall such a mild January and February.
We met at the Agricultural Hall on Sunday last for our monthly meeting of Homegrown. There were quite a number of us in attendance. We talked about getting ready to prune and fertilize our fruit trees. Abigail encouraged us to get the lime-sulfur oil sprayed on the fruit trees now that the buds are beginning to swell but have not yet opened.
We discussed starting plants from seeds. Naturally, any of the cold-resistant crops such as lettuce, kale, arugula and spinach should be happening. We decided it is not too early to start peppers, which take forever. Remarkably, I still have to order seeds for them. I’d better get busy this week, as if I have been lazing around.
We discussed the importance of ventilation in greenhouses and cold frames. The condensation which builds during the day causes various problems—fungus, damping off, white flies and aphids. Speaking of aphids, Abigail mentioned something I found very interesting: Hummingbirds will eat them. All the more reason to plant red to attract the lovely creatures.
I do have some aphids on some mandevillas I am storing in an unheated but frost-free room. Recently, Laurie Clements brought me a praying mantis egg case. I placed it in the mandevillas, hoping for an early hatch and then the quick demise of the aphid. I like what praying mantises do in the garden but must admit they give me the creeps. I hate the way they turn around and look at me.
For those of you who smoke or have friends who do and visit your tomato patch, be forewarned: Never touch your tomatoes while or after smoking as you will spread the tobacco virus to your tomatoes. They are in the same plant family.
We talked about the possibility of growing grain. I was able to share that the charter school students grow some wheat in their garden. They used a stone grain grinder, made flour, and then baked some crackers they shared with the parents.
Our group potato order will arrive by the first of April. Next meeting we will be ordering leeks and onion plants. Thanks in advance to Melinda DeFeo for organizing. We will save quite a bit by ordering together. That next meeting will be on March 18, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury. Newcomers are always welcome. We will be sharing seedlings by then.
I picked some carrots and parsnips this week. The ground has never frozen this winter with the exception of a thin crust in the morning. I was able to pull the roots easily. They are so sweet and delicious. The cold weather improves their flavor. Those root vegetables grown in Southern California never taste the same. I encourage you to leave some in the ground for next winter.
Oh, my! Rick Santorum. How is it even possible in the 21st century to have a front-runner like him. He is completely unhinged in his public comments.
It’s hard to decide whether he or Mitt is more tone-deaf.
I cannot even touch his position on, of all things, birth control. It is especially interesting about his wife home-schooling their seven children in the Virginia suburbs while he was in Congress. They soaked the state of Pennsylvania $38,000 a year per child to provide education for those children.
I love the 1952 campaign speech by Adlai Stevenson, “I offer my opponents a bargain: If they stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.”