Friday, March 25, 2011

My Back My Garden

I have begun preparing my garden for planting which means turning the soil and working in compost.  I use a spading fork.  The first few times I do this in any year my back complains mightily, not just the muscles, but the spine itself.  I have a kind of arthritis that attacks the spinal column, the rib joints and my feet. Most of the time, I can ignore the pain.  This was not the case this time.  I had trouble walking the day after working in the garden and only managed a hunched over shuffle. Needless to say there was a delay in returning to my garden.

On Saturday, March 19, I purchased four tomato plants.  Usually, we have no freeze after March 14 although we will have what my grandmother called an "Easter spell" of cold weather in the weeks before a late Easter.  A native Texan, whose garden fed her family, she was uncanny in predicting the weather.  She's gone now so I am on my own.  I have decided to put my faith in meteorology and plant as soon as possible.

I added leaves and fertilizer to the bed I had turned compost into and turned it again.  I use no pesticides, but I am not a pure organic gardener.  I use a time release fertilizer that comes ready to apply and will not burn the plants.  In addition, it will not harm the earthworms and other beneficial insects.  Besides, I have a Ph. D. in Chemistry and believe that there are natural and man made substances that can be used together. I don't use pesticides because what will kill pests may not be good for us either.  Texas homes were treated with chlordane for termites for years before it was banned.  Now it is difficult to find soil uncontaminated with chlordane breakdown chemicals.  Know your chemicals!

After working the garden plot again, I planted my tomatoes, four different varieties: Solar Set, Celebrity, Sweet 100, and Brandywine (an old Amish variety).  I have my doubts about Brandywine in the Texas heat; we are far from Amish country.  I try different varieties every year.  I will purchase three more tomato plants this week to complete the tomato plots..I still have to turn that plot.

The good news: my back complained briefly about the digging and turning I did, then quieted down to its normal background growl of discomfort.

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