Kitchen Garden

Racing to Sunset

Seasoning Seed Potatoes

A text message came March 20 while I was stopped at a traffic light in North Liberty.

“In total we need 22 120s this week so you actually might be able to do it all tonight!”

It was 4: 51 p.m.

The combination of daylight savings time and the vernal equinox provided a window to soil block at the farm after my shift at the home, farm and auto supply store.

Driving east on Mehaffey Bridge Road toward Solon and the farm, descending into the Coralville Lake and then the Lake Macbride dip in the road, I made mental plans on how to approach the work.

Pelicans had returned to the sand bars on the east end of the north branch of Lake Macbride on their annual migration. Their bright whiteness cheered the beginning of spring.

Sunset was at 7:18 p.m. It would be a push to get 22 finished by then. I made it, just barely.

I had planned to plant lettuce of my own, but waning sunlight made it difficult to see and separate the small seeds. I planted spinach instead. Chasing sunset is not always what we expect.

Garden Burn Pile

Yesterday I worked in the yard and garden, clearing one of the plots to make a burn pile.

The wind was negligible so I dumped a garbage can filled with shredded mailer envelopes and other paper at the base of the brush pile. It took one match to make the burn.

I got out the chain saw and cut down four volunteer mulberry trees that had grown 15 feet tall midst the lilacs. I hadn’t noticed them until last fall when sunlight from the Western sky highlighted them. They burned easily.

Tomato Cages Protecting Belgian Lettuce

I gathered the tomato cages and piled them over the Belgian lettuce planted in March. The seeds are germinating and popping through the damp soil’s surface. The cages will be there to protect the lettuce for three to four weeks before the tomato seedlings are ready to plant.

It was a great day to spend in the garden.

A neighbor visited. She said the president of our home owners association sold his house and was downsizing to move into town. There would be three vacancies on the board with other resignations. I spend 14 years on the board beginning in 1995 and told her I would consider joining the board for the third time. I explained that I would start working at the orchard again in August, returning to a seven-day-per-week schedule. She thought the board could cover my absence, if needed, for a while.

Early spring has been busy already. There is so much life in which to engage. Taking part is important and contributes to sustaining a life in a turbulent world.