Loretta spent a few hours on the phone one day last week trying to locate several varieties of garden seeds and plants that her husband holds near and dear. She never did find Yellow Sweet Spanish onion sets, Boston Bib Lettuce nor Oregon Sugar Pod II peas, but she only called about half a dozen of the nearby places in Madison County that normally have all three varieties in abundance. It took five tries to locate Yukon Gold seed taters, but they are now in the ground and my conscience is clear that I didn’t talk her into violating any COVID-19 restrictions.
All the places we were searching, except for the one that still had Yukon Gold, had sold completely out of the varieties I wanted and some of them had reordered and sold out twice or three times. I sincerely hope that all these seed buyers know what they are getting themselves into and raise more vegetables that have been locally grown than we’ve seen since the Victory Gardens of World War II.
Then, last Friday, we decided to get on the phone and see if we could track down some burpless cucumber seeds. Two different store clerks actually laughed at me. “How bout Poinsette?” I politely asked to even more laughter. Long story short, four out of six stores that usually have around a dozen varieties of cucumbers were down to only “straight eights” and that variety may be better than having no cucumbers at all, but just barely, in my humble opinion. The other two stores had no cuke seeds, period.
I found three different varieties of burpless cucumber seeds on ebay, as well as the coveted Poinsettes we so dearly love. All four orders promised to be in my mailbox before the end of April. The orders were placed on April 24. I’m hoping to get them started in seedling peat pots on the front porch by May 1. Unless you are a gambler, it’s still two weeks too early, in my opinion, to be direct seeding anything in your garden that is prone to frostbite. I still have some saved, open-pollinated English cuke seeds but I don’t plant them until mid July.
I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to find out what manual labor is all about for the first time in their lives. I’d also bet a few bucks that these apparently “new” gardeners are going to have a far higher level of appreciation for the produce sections of their grocery stores well before the summer is over.
On the other hand, I absolutely could not be more pleased with the fact that so many people are taking up gardening. I sincerely hope that every single one of them gets as much pleasure out of the effort and the eating as I do and that includes the blisters to go with hoeing.
In the meantime, if it hasn’t already happened, I expect a huge run on work gloves by mid May. Swiping cell phones isn’t going to be of much help when it comes to raising a garden unless folks are looking for websites that have gardening lessons. And swiping the packets is not going to make the seeds go into the ground.
This week’s reading recommendation is Kentucky author, Janice Holt Giles. During my last two years of grade school and first two years of high school, I could hardly wait it to get my hands anything she had written that I had not already read. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, I devoured them all again. I’m getting ready to do it for the third time around.
Set mostly in the late 18th and 19th centuries, her fictional accounts of life in the hills of Kentucky make for some of the best reading America has ever experienced. Her autobiographical (non fiction) title, "Forty Acres and no Mule", detailing her experience of moving from Louisville to a rundown farm in Adair County, Kentucky during 1949 and the early 1950s is one of my top 10, nonfiction reads of all time. Her novel "Hannah Fowler" is in my top 20 fiction reads.
Google the author, read her Wikipedia biographical summary and try to read her books in chronological order if you can. See how many adolescent readers you can get hooked on Janice Holt Giles, who, in my opinion, all said and done, is the best Kentucky fiction writer I have ever read. I should be halfway through Giles’ “The Enduring Hills” for at least the third time, by the time this column hits your newspaper