A collector of vegetables

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This article has little to do with antiques and collectibles, unless a person could consider collecting produce from the garden as part of that subject matter.

Personally, I always had kitchen gardens until 1987, when outdoor gardening became a delightful hobby and occupation for me. I feel empty lawns, with nothing but grass, are a waste of space.

Too much work? Some people think gardening is too much work, yet they go to gyms, health clubs, run, walk and even purchase expensive exercise equipment to get their exercise.

A garden, however provides more than just exercise. In addition, it provides ample supplies of healthy foods.

Springtime signals the beginning of the outdoor work season, and is a time to consider the garden layout and prepare the planting area.

MyseIf and others take great pride in our gardens – the clean rows, the healthy plants and eventually, ample produce.

Ranking vegetables. Certain vegetables are held in higher esteem than others in the garden. Corn is first of the main crop interests, then potatoes.

As soon as the ground was ready, peas, lettuce, radishes, carrots and similar seeds are planted. Corn was planted the same as it is today, two to three seeds per hill, one foot apart.

However when I was young, I was taught how to use a corn planter – a hand-held device. Field corn was often planted the same method if a team and planter were not available.

Planting potatoes. Potatoes were planted cut side down, not merely dropped. The hill was piled high over the seed to at least hold a half bushel of potatoes. Rows were marked off with a stretched clothes line, 3 feet apart.

After planting, hoeing was commenced about the middle of June, the usual time for the first cutting of hay. Hay left later than June 15 had gone to seed and was no more than stalk.

The subject of hay making causes me to wonder how many folks today can handle a scythe properly.

Learning young. When I was young, my grandfather taught me the procedure. I stood in front of him while he held the scythe. He placed my hands on the nibs (the handles), slowly swung the scythe, and with his foot pushed my foot, first the right then the left.

This taught me how to step when mowing. If you are out of step, the mowing is not accomplished properly, and you simply remained in one place.

By hoeing a garden by hand, a person can eliminate the weeds easier than with a rototiller. Go in between the plants and hill them a bit as you go. Always walk backward, otherwise you pack the soil you have already hoed.

Dust, spray or harvest before you hoe – this makes a neat garden row.

Touchy subject. Dusting plants with insecticides is a touchy subject; some like it, while others have their special ingredients. I used lime quite a lot, as it seems to clog the breathing tubes of insects and sweetens the soil.

On TV I saw a short program on wood ashes. I wood ashes and coal ashes to loosen the soil, then used sawdust for mulch back in the 1940s. Of course in those days we used fireplaces, pot-bellied and stoves and furnaces burning coal, so they were available.

In the past. Gardening is one phase of my past that I miss. Our family maintained and harvested several gardens – one 45 feet by 150 feet, a second one was 100-by-100 and the last was 50-by-100. All were hand cultivated, without a rototiller.

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