Over the weekend I visited some fabulous gardens, and you will be hearing more about them soon. What surprised me about many of these gardens was the amount of vegetable gardening going on in our town. I saw small vegetable gardens, big vegetable gardens, pretty vegetable gardens, and vegetable gardens in hoop houses. Wow!
I also have a very small vegetable garden this year, only 10 x 8 feet. This garden was prompted by the pandemic which has given me time on my hands. I am familiar with vegetable gardens after life in Heath, but after six years being away from vegetable gardens I have forgotten some of the important tasks.
After having harvested some mesclun, bok choi, and bibb lettuce I am now at a loss of what to do with those empty spaces and lots of summer and vegetable season left.
Fortunately I now have the Old Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook (Yankee Publishing $14.95) to help me through the rest of the growing season. There is information for new gardeners, and information about different kinds of growing spaces from beds on top of the ground, strawbale gardens, no-till beds, and many kinds of container gardens. There are also pages designed to help you keep records of your seed starting, plant companions, herbs planted, disease and pest records, fertilizing records, seed saving records and more. An important section on Growing Concerns give us tips on fighting diseases and pests as well as crop rotation and indoor gardening. Those Old Farmers haven’t forgotten anything.
The rest of the book is devoted to information about growing 30 vegetables from asparagus to turnips. I’m paying particular attention to the When to Plant pages. I have harvested lettuces, bok choi and peas. With bare spaces in my tiny garden I am now calculating when I can begin a second planting. I see possibilities of harvesting carrots which can stand the first frosts, beets and beet greens, and Swiss chard, as well as my potted tomatoes.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook is an excellent and useful book for a new gardener, and for a gardener like myself who needs to brush up.
I have also been reading the Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids ($9.95) which will give lots of pleasure to kids and adults. The book begins with interesting facts about each month of the year. Did you know that January 19 is National Popcorn Day or that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon July 20, 1969 and left only two and a half hours later after exploring, or that August 4 is Coast Guard Day?
This Almanac has great information about the planet Uranus, what it would be like if you could go right through the center of the earth to China, and everything you want to know about the bald eagle. I never knew that bald eagles have about 7000 feathers, and love to catch fish and eat them.
Of course, there are things for kids to do in this book. There are recipes for refrigerator pickles, yogurt, butter, ricotta cheese, and, in the winter, snow ice cream. There are games, goats, chickens, wild animals, and weather mysteries. There are also stories about inspiring kids!
As a former librarian, and a sometimes reader to first graders, I want to add that bright and engaging books like this benefit children by keeping them reading. With the world in turmoil we don’t even know if our children will be in school this fall. Maybe they will be in television-school where all their lessons will come through the TV/computer. School this September will very likely not be anything like school last September, but nobody knows yet what it will be like. Providing encouragement to children to read, and to learn about our amazing world is a great gift.
While I was the Buckland Library librarian I read to children at the Buckland recreation summer day camp every Friday at noon while the children had their lunch. Children from 5 to 12 attended so it was tricky choosing engaging books for all, but I found that picture books about male and female sports heroes, folk tales, facts about creatures of the deep, and insects interested just about everyone.
Reading to the campers was a great joy. I decided we needed a ritual to end the time we had together and I made up a closing motto – whatever you do keep reading! I made the kids shout it out. That motto was transformed when I was reading to a Buckland- Shelburne school classroom. I was preparing to leave after reading a Chinese Monkey King story when one of the third graders looked hurt that I hadn’t asked them to give the motto. Of course I asked her to give it to us. She then got worried but slowly said “ Read . . . until. . . your heart stops.” The teacher and I laughed, but the motto was transformed . Cynthia Fisher’s beautiful mosaic at the Buckland Library clearly states Read Until Your Heart Stops!
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives. Happily we can obey all the rules, and turn to our gardens and our books for pleasure and learning.###
Between the Rows July 18, 2020