Home Life Kitchen Garden

Wisps of Morning Clouds

LAKE MACBRIDE— Wisps of clouds in the western sky are colored gray and pink, touched by white, against a blue sky. The leaves on the pin oak tree are falling, making way for this year’s growth. The lilac bushes, apple trees and every other plant in the yard are coming alive after winter dormancy. The driveway is damp with last night’s rain, and there is hope the garden will dry out enough to dig today. Not much hope, but some.

The temperature is forecast to peak at 55 degrees when I have to depart to cross the lakes to North Liberty around 3 p.m. In these windows of time— between now, and the next thing— we might make a life if we apply ourselves.

The cucumber, zucchini and yellow squash seeds I planted April 7 have germinated and are forming their initial two leaves. The tray of lettuce has grown, and the tomato seeds are still a bit spindly, but for the most part have four leaves, and should be ready to plant when the last frost is past. The experiment with seedlings is progressing acceptably.

After consulting with a farmer friend, I decided to wait to plant the turnip seeds in the ground, rather than start them in a tray. This year, I hope for a lot of turnip greens to make soup stock for summer and beyond.

I can  make a brush pile from the twigs and branches collected since last fall. That is, if the ground is too wet to dig. Take down the short chicken-wire fences where I started peas last year, and clear a spot for the burn. It is an hour’s work to be done mid-morning.

Under a clearing sky I’ll make a day of it— gardening and yard work— before crossing the lakes. This shore preferable to that, but both important to sustaining our life on the Iowa prairie.