10. March 2015 · Comments Off on Spring Forward · Categories: Domestic

That time of year again – the last week before the recorded date of ‘last frost’ in this part of Texas. I suppose that in some year or other there was a spasm of frost after March 15th – this is Texas, after all, where if you don’t care for the weather at any particular moment, just wait for five minutes. But March 15th is the traditional ‘ladies and gentlemen, start your garden engines’ moment. We actually started last weekend, moving out the tender plants which had been sheltered on the back porch, protected by sheets of plastic hung from three sides to make a sort of temporary if terribly cramped greenhouse. It has been pouring, drizzling, misting and oozing rain off and on for the past week, and … well, really, the rainwater is good for plants, and they might as well get all the good out of it.

So it begins – another year of attempting to have regular backyard supply of fresh vegetables, in a variety of raised beds, pots large and small, and hanging patented tomato planters. Last year saw us add three sapling fruit trees – apple, plum and peach, along the back fence, where they all graciously consented to leaf out, and to produce blooms in the last couple of days. This week, we added another apple tree – it seems that it is necessary for the purposes of cross-pollination. Blondie’s Montero awaiting a new engine, it was necessary to bring it home in my Accura – and not a problem at all. I opened the sun roof, and Blondie lowered it in, and we drove home with the apple tree’s upper branches waving proudly in the breeze. We planted it today, and I took down the last of the sheltering plastic sheets and swept out the back porch. This seems like the first sunny, mild day in weeks, so we did take a few minutes to sit down and relish it all. Tomorrow – top up the big raised bed with garden soil and plant potatoes. Last year we had a lovely crop of them; not as many as we had expected, but oh, were they delicious – and smooth, like vegetable velvet.

We also installed a number of small items which came from Mom and Dad’s place – things which had no particular value, particularly – so likely they would have been sold at a yard sale for a buck or two, or put into the trash by new owners cleaning up. A good few of them had survived the fire in 2003 which destroyed the house and garage, but left the garden relatively unscathed. There was a cast cement gargoyle, a hanging glazed ceramic bird-bath, a pair of cast-resin ducklings, a wind-chime, a glazed spatter-ware jug and some other oddments. One of them was the Moche-style face jug I made in the sixth grade, which always amused Mom enormously as it so looked like Grandpa Al. Blondie brought all these oddments back from California with her, and we scattered them about the garden in appropriate places.

The plants which did survive outside on their own did so in style; especially the one artichoke that I moved from a raised bed into a pot and thereafter ignored for the remainder of the year. I so love artichokes, and the ones in the store are usually as expensive as they are tasteless and tough. Here’s hoping for some likely blooms from it this year, and may the other two from Rainbow Gardens thrive just as well.

We might also have a respite from field rats, raiding the almost-ripe tomatoes and eating leaves off the pepper plants. We have detected a semi-feral ginger cat, lurking meaningfully in our yard, who might have set up occasional housekeeping underneath the shed. Blondie has nicknamed the cat Smeagol; if it turns out that he is a mighty hunter before the Lord, a dish of kibble now and again will so be coming his way.

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