The past three days I've been getting the rest this year's vegetable garden planted, and there's a bit of a story behind that.
And the story is that I did not exactly do it on my own. So credit and thanks will be hereby given where they are due.
In the first place, I didn't do the heavy digging this year. Or at least, not much of it.
I wasn't allowed to do anything of the sort until the 2nd of June, when my doctor cleared me for regular activity. And then I had enough to do getting the potatoes moved. My dream-- my fond, fantastic dream-- was that I'd locate some friend or neighbor who had a small rototiller that could do my small kitchen garden beds without tearing up the cobblestone paving. This was rather necessary for my purposes, since as I've posted before, my vegetables share the yard with two large maple trees. They simply love getting their roots in the beds and cumbering up the dirt, and any vegetable starts just popped in would face too much competition.
My friend Frieda* thought her husband might know someone who had a small rototiller, and the idea was to get whoever that was to come over and do my garden before the end of May.
Didn't happen, couldn't happen. This friend of a friend and his rototiller was too busy.
But a week or so ago, Frieda's husband found an old gas rototiller in the back of their garage. And with a little tuning up, it worked! And this past Sunday, while I was at church, they came over and churned the soil over.
I have to admit I was disappoin- ted in my hopes for a completely maple-root-pulverized garden. Obviously, the tiller tines don't go as deep as I'm used to plunging in my garden fork. But often as not, whenever I yanked on a root, it came loose. So the machine got in there and cut more than first appeared. The three beds still needed weeding around the edges and some general forking over, but the worst of the job was done for me.
(By the way-- who knew that white clover had such tenacious roots? Ye gods!)
So I thank Frieda and her husband, but that isn't the extent of the debt of gratitude I owe. For barring the onions and the leeks that've been dividing and going to seed around the edges the past two or three years, all the plants in these three beds were given to me by an elder in my presbytery who owns a garden center and nursery over in Butler County. He went through surgery and chemo for Stage III colon cancer three years ago and graciously said I could have whatever I wanted. I drove out to Quality Gardens last Thursday to pick up my haul, and came away with an amazing variety of plants.
As I mentioned, I took three days planting them all, starting Monday evening. I don't want to turn this into a cancer blog (feh!), but it turns out that you can't go full speed gardening after a five hour dose of chemotherapy.
Never mind. The plants are in! In addition to the snow peas, lettuce, and potatoes in the north bed, here's what I've got:
South bed: Crucifers-- "Premium Crop" and "Romanesco" broccoli and Brussels sprouts (variety not tagged).
West bed: Tomatoes-- Big 'uns "Brandywine Pink," "Cherokee Purple," and "Mortgage Lifter" (I wish!), then "Yellow Pear," "Small Fry," and "Ildi," the last three all grape/cherries, then "Speckled," a paste tomato I may not have given enough room.
East bed: Cucumbers-- "Sweet Slice," "Diva," and "Muncher." Sweet peppers-- "Lady Bell" (I'll let mine go red) and "Mohawk."
And in the border at the front of the house (yes!), "Bambino" miniature eggplant and two starts of broccoflower. Should have been three, but my greedy beast dog ate one!
I love the heirloom names. They bring up such an idiot sense of romance in me. And as I've learned in the past, the taste will give me even more to love.
So thank you to Tom as well, and I hope the yield I get pays him for his generosity.