Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring!!!!!!

Spring and especially March is one of my fondest times of the year.  It was always time for the Osage County Spring Livestock Show which was normally starting about March 8th each year and it was also time to plant potatoes and onions and to prepare the garden.  Great times.

The garden changed over the years but when I was younger the garden was north of the house and about 1 to 2 acres.  It was huge.  Dad loved to plant potatoes as he grew up on potato farming.  He was especially fond of sweet potatoes but we primarily planted white potatoes or Idaho potatoes as a lot of folks referred to them.  We would take about 100 pounds of seed potatoes and cut them into fourths making sure there were eyes on each forth.  An eye on a potato is where a sprout would start and a sprout was the beginning of a vine and leaves.  The potato would follow that by starting to root once in the ground.  When we planted you had to make sure the eyes were pointed up.  We used a small Allis Chalmers narrow front tractor and a plow to create the ditches where we planted the potatoes.  Basically you would load up all  you could carry and start walking down those long rows with a gunny sack of potatoes and drop one about every 18 inches.   Then you would step on it to make sure it was firmly in the ground an no air was around the potato before you covered it up.  If there was someone helping they would be covering up the potatoes as you planted else you got to go back and cover them up yourself.  Debbie and Larry always seemed to be there helping and frankly I loved it.

Another great sign of spring was the rhubarb beginning to peak out of the ground with its leaves tightly wadded up and getting ready to unfold as the spring warming began.  The rhubarb was planted under the eve or next to the chicken house on the east side to protect it from summer heat and to allow snow to gather on top of the plants during winter to harden the roots.  Later on  we down sized the garden to about 1/2 an acre which is still huge by most folks standards and moved it to just east of the chicken house which was south of the house and east of the round barn (see the picture).  It was this move that allowed the successful growing of the rhubarb which is still about my most favorite pie. Luckily my sweet sister will make me one on occasion and yes I am making this plug so she will remember to make another one.  The other advantage of moving the garden not including just making it smaller to reduce the amount of work is that it was close to stock pins where we worked cattle and wintered a few steers for eating and prior to that it is where the dairy cows would wait to be milked.  Now if it is still not obvious what that is reflecting is that there was a lot of manure that piled up over the years there and as it composted it made great fertilizer for the garden.  That stuff was so hot that weeds had trouble growing in it but when you added it to the soil in the garden it was just right.  Kinda like the porridge in the three bears story.

It was this combination of manure and soil that made for some of the greatest gardens you ever saw.  We put up literally thousands of pounds of potatoes every year in the cellar for winter eating.  It also made for a fantastic crop of fresh green beans.  Now you may not know it but the best eat'n is when you take fresh new potatoes and especially the small ones and cook them up with fresh green beans and a little bacon and salt and pepper, WOW!  Making me hungry.

Well I might have to continue this one later so what do you learn in the Osage?

  • The rewards of hard work are great eat'n
  • A little crap can go a long way in making a good garden
  • Some folks are entrepreneurs and some folks are full of manure
Thanks for your time and let me know if this brings back a few memories or drives you to the garden,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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