The Beginning of the Gardening Season

Reader Contribution by Ginnie Baker
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This is Memorial Day weekend and our village of Bellville is decked out to celebrate and to thank all veterans for their service to our country.

It’s the beginning of the gardening season and I’m ready!

After two months of heavy rain, the garden was finally dry enough to be plowed.

I’m a volunteer for our Richland County Soil and Water Conservation District, monitoring a home rain gauge.

In April, I recorded 8.84 inches of rain and by the third week of May, I recorded 4.6 inches of rain, including a hail storm.

That’s a lot of rain! The garden area was a soggy mess until last Friday when my neighbor was able to plow the garden.

My grandfather always had a large garden. I remember he said to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day for good luck. This year, I had to dig through several inches of snow to get a token handful of peas planted.

He also said not to plant the garden until Memorial Day. On average, we have our last frost around May 20 so it looks like I can get started.

I always have a scarecrow who “protects” the young plants from the crows and other critters (rabbits) who like to feast on them. He must not be scary enough because the birds sit on his shoulders as they contemplate what to pull up next while the chipmunks explore his pants pockets, filling them with sunflower seeds from the bird feeders. Meanwhile, the rabbits make their way along the rows, feasting on the new growth.

Since I’m an animal lover, I double plant everything so the critters get half, including the deer, and I get half!

I have a good friend who has a farm up the road from me. Every year, the same neighbor plows both of our gardens, usually on the same day.

She and I have a friendly competition every year on who gets things planted first, who picks the first beans and tomatoes, and who is first to beginning canning.

We also exchange recipes we find in GRIT and other publications such as the Amish Cook, a column written by an Amish woman in Ohio. Her mother started the column and published several wonderful cookbooks, which I use a lot.

I have always had an organic garden, no pesticides. I try to keep it that way, using only natural fertilizer provided by Samson and Delilah, my miniature donkeys. I have several natural “recipes” for controlling any pests that might appear.

I have a great book, Back to Basics, that has formulas to make at home. One I have used for years to control and kill the cabbage worm is to mix 1/2 cup salt with 1 cup flour. I use a small strainer to dust the cabbage plants. It works!

Another great formula for potato beetles is 1 cup Epsom salt, 1 cup Listerine (or any mouth wash), 1 cup ammonia, 1 can beer and 1/2 cup dish liquid. Put everything in a sprayer and add water. It makes approximately 15 gallons of spray, but it can be cut way down depending on how many rows of potatoes are planted. Spray the plants and the beetles will disappear.

I’ve used this one also with great success.

To help keep the rabbits from munching too much, I sprinkle garlic powder and red pepper flakes on the cabbage and broccoli plants, especially when they’re young and newly planted.

I really like using natural remedies for controlling unwanted insects and keeping the rabbits at bay.

The sun is shining brightly right now so it’s off to the garden to plant some beans and squash. Last year, I did get squash and beans planted early.

Maybe this year, I’ll actually get a jump start on my friend!

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