Keeping Busy in March

March 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Brad Moldofsky

It’s probably just the nice weather, but I’m getting very excited about my garden plans. With the sprawling success I’ve had growing mesclun and spinach, I’m inspired me to scrap my intention of buying pre-grown flats this spring and instead grow more items from seed.

My wife, our household Arts and Crafts Czar, suggested germinating seeds inside standing paper towel tubes. My 8-year-old, Pikachu, and I packed cardboard tubes shoulder to shoulder in a Clementine orange mini-crate and filled each tube with potting soil. Pikachu carefully dropped an eggplant seed in the center of each tube, then we wet the whole thing with a snowman-shaped misting bottle (which the boys typically use to paint snow with food coloring). Pikachu spooned in another half inch of soil and sprayed them all again. The tubes sit in the bay window next to the lettuce box on top of a plastic boot tray, which will catch any spillage.

I checked The Square Foot Garden out of the library again and reviewed the plans to build frames out of lumber. The author, Mel Bartholemew, pushes his ideas with great pomp and fervor, like Mao Tse Tung, interspersed with photos of himself and frequent reminders of how great the book is. My 10-year-old, Smartypants, is eager to help with the construction this spring, especially the power drilling part.

Carrying more weight than Chairman Mel is my wife, who sees too much radish and not enough tomatoes in my garden plan. She also thinks cucumbers refuse to grow in our yard, but I might stick to my guns on this. As a concession, the radishes will be replaced by yet more peas. But I’m stuck deciding about the tomatoes. These sprawling plants seem to conflict with so many other vegetables that I’d intentionally limited their presence in the garden. I might replace some of my potato plots with tomatoes. But we’ve always favored smaller grape or cherry tomatoes to the big beefsteaks. Fewer fruits on the plant mean all that much more heartache to find a single nibble taken from them before harvest. With cherry tomatoes, we can afford to lose a few dozen each season.