How does the garden grow?

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By Celia Hayes

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary ...How does the garden grow? At this point, it's hard to say anything definite; for much of February I have been sidelined with the current flu, possibly in combination with a whopping reaction to all the pollen in the air for the last few weeks. All the plans for the garden were on hold until this weekend ... filling up the big raised bed with another humongous bag of good potting soil, constructing the first of several smaller raised beds, getting a dozen or so tomato starts planted in either home-made topsy planters or in the existing Earth Boxes, and planting the onion starts and the various beans. All of that ... and the thunderstorm which roared through in the wee hours of Sunday morning just seemed providential. I wish that we could count on a good solid rain every two weeks or so from now until autumn ... that, and the assortment of seed packets that I bought at Lowe's on Sunday will come forth and thrive as advertised.

Beans, and peas, zucchini and summer squash and mesclun-lettuce mixes, oh, my. I used to have very good luck growing the mesclun and salad mixes from seeds from a specialty mail-order nursery during the first few years I was here and trying my best to have a usable, edible garden. Last season, the tomatoes worked out all right, although I honestly could have used more, more, more in the way of bearing plants. I'd like to have so much in the way of tomatoes and zucchini that I am reduced to leaving bags of them anonymously on my neighbors' doorsteps, running the doorbell and running away. I'd love to have enough bearing bean plants that I could go out every evening as I did in Utah, and pick enough fresh beans for dinner.

As for the home-made topsys; I had very good luck with a number of inexpensive planters' pots from Lowe's, and making hangers to suspend them from picture-hanging wire. All I needed to do was cut a square hole in the bottom of the pot with the kitchen shears, and then cut an ordinary cellulose kitchen sponge in half. A slice halfway through the half-sponge and a hole for the stem of the tomato plant, fit the leaves through the hole in the pot, and fill up the pot with good potting soil, and we're in business.

The three pots of eggplant from last year are doing OK; I finally moved them out of the greenhouse and into a sunny spot against the back fence. I have crossed my heart and vowed to actually eat the eggplants this time. There were four or five on the plants last year, but they went to seed before I got around to doing anything constructively culinary with them. Quite a few of the okra pods also went to seed – but there I got the good out of them and saved the seeds. Now I have a whole Earthbox full of okra sproutlings. My ambition as regards okra is to have enough ripe pods at one time to make a meal of, or possibly a single jar of okra pickles. And that's been my weekend in the garden – what about yours?