Published on April 20, 2021

Memories are made of this

Spring gardening with Jan

By Jan Edwards
The Bulletin

Every spring, my fingers get to yearning to play in the dirt and get something growing, and they won’t let up on me until I get some kind of garden started.

I learned in my first few years that planting a garden directly in the ground wasn’t going to work.

First, there was always a chance the San Bernard River’s muddy water would inundate and destroy whatever was planted before the harvest. And, if that wasn’t the case, my husband, Roy, refused to mow around it.

It was a problem until Dona Worrell showed me the cinder block off-the-ground planter for her container garden that her husband, Tommy, built for her. That solved a whole lot of problems.

Container gardens are built up, so they stay out of most inundations, and you don’t have to bend over so far to work the garden. It even keeps out some bugs. She also introduced me to heirloom vegetables, but that’s another story.

I told Roy what I wanted, and my container garden began. Roy split two 55-gallon plastic drums, made cradles for them, and for extra height, he fit them into the landing on our stairs facing the river – full sun.

We filled them with a mixture of sand and potting soil, and I started planting. It started out with just tomatoes – eight, I think. Two for each barrel half. I fed them Urban Farms tomato plant food (developed in this area of the world), and they took off.

Some days I felt like that landing was the “Little Shop Around the Corner,” and I could almost hear the plants crying, “Feed Me!” Yeah, eight was too many; this year I am down to two, and I try different things each year.

Two of the barrels have one heirloom tomato plant in them – a German Johnson and a Pink Brandywine. The one with the German Johnson in it also is growing a yellow bell pepper. Trying to find sweet peppers was hard to do this year. There were trays and trays of every hot pepper you can imagine but sweet peppers, not so much.

I have one other half barrel dedicated to Asparagus. Did you know that they have two ways of propagating? By roots and by seeds. I keep letting my asparagus go to fern stage and create seeds, hoping they will fall below the planter and that someday we’ll have wild asparagus growing there. So far, that hasn’t happened, but they did come back after the freeze. I just knew I had lost them.

The last half barrel is my experimental barrel. I’ve tried brussels sprouts, broccoli, radishes, squash, and green beans in it. No luck at all with radishes or brussels sprouts. Great luck with squash, which Roy won’t eat, until blossom end rot sets in, and broccoli, until the heat sets in.

The summer sun kills out the green beans before I have the chance to harvest more than a handful. This year, I planted new potatoes and beets. I’m pretty sure I can get a crop of new potatoes before summer gets them, but I think the beets are going to be a bust. We’ll see.

On my deck, I keep a couple of buckets of multiplying green onions for cooking. It’s so nice to harvest fresh ones when the recipe calls for them – so much more flavor. I am also reintroducing my loofah gourd, which makes loofah sponges. No, I am not going crazy. The loofah sponge you use in the bath or a natural scrubbing sponge in the kitchen is made from this gourd – not a marine animal like most folks think.

I planted them here once before when I was a weekender. You must leave the loofah on the vine until completely dry in order to harvest the sponge inside the gourd; otherwise, you get a mess.

So, I decided then to leave my beautiful gourds on the vine for one more week. When we got back the next weekend, every loofah (dry or green) had been purloined. Even the vines had been destroyed by the thief or thieves.

I’ll devote my next column to why I like gardening and more about growing loofahs.
But loofah thieves, be forewarned. We’re not weekenders this year, and my shotgun is loaded.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)