Prep Work

A.V. Walters

Today was the kind of pre-garden work that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Last year some of our orphan, Roma tomatoes brought a blight with them. You can always second guess yourself about taking-in strays. They looked a little peaked upon planting but perked right up and grew beautifully for weeks before the blight hit. It seemed to be associated with our summer fog. I know that after a couple of damp, foggy mornings the plants were ravaged. Usually I rotate the beds but the tomatoes had been so happy that I planted them in that same bed at least two years running. Not a good practice.

So, this year, before anything could go in, I had to scrub and bleach-treat all the buckets that were in the same garden as last year’s tomatoes. It’s a lot of work–about fifty buckets, all muddy from last year. A lot of bending,  stretching and scrubbing, so tomorrow, I’ll ache some. I still have to spray the tomato cages–they’re a likely contamination vehicle, as well. And then we’ll be ready. I dug in a handful of buckets today. Rick tried digging in a couple of the plastic bins that Elmer wants to use. No way. They’re flimsy 35 gallon bins. By the time you drill the bottoms for drainage, it’s apparent that they don’t have the structural integrity, or UV resistance, to be worth the effort. A season of summer sun and these things will be in pieces. (And digging them back out, like we do the buckets? I-don’t-think-so!) So, I think we’ll be sticking with the buckets.

We’ll get the bulk of them dug in over the next ten days and some of them planted. We need to go away for a bit, in mid-May, which is going to disrupt our usual garden schedule. I was all panicked about it, but then realized that a week or so, one way or the other, is not a big deal. We have such a long growing season, on the tail end, that there’s a lot of leeway on planting time. Not like back home, where it’s a race to get things in as early as possible because of the danger of an early September frost. Here, we’re still picking tomatoes in November. Last year we were still canning tomatoes in October! We ate chard all winter. Our cool summers–with the occasional, heavy fog–can stall everything except the squash. Nothing slows the squash. Our pumpkins and zucchinis are relentless.

That was it for the day. Not really gardening, but it all works in that direction.