Saint Patrick's Day has come and gone. For those of us with Irish blood in our veins its a day to party and celebrate with everything green (including the beer, or so I'm told). I am not the party type. But Saint Paddy's day is a special day for me. It is the day I begin my gardening in earnest.
There is a reason Saint Patrick's Day is green. It is the day most gardener's plant that most Irish of all vegetables — potatoes! I gave up on potatoes long ago. For some reason, I have never had the knack for raising a good crop. I get beautiful plants, but no real yield. I've tried straight into the ground. I've tried pots, tire towers, straw bales, wire towers filled with straw — you name it, I've tried it with no real success. One year something ate them underground. One year ants invaded so badly the potatoes rotted. One year it was so hot here the potatoes actually baked in the ground! So I resigned myself to feeding my Irish love of potatoes at the grocery store.
But the Irish also love cabbages, and those I can grow! As you know, we began preparing our garden beds a couple of weeks ago, and God blessed us with a good rain to soak all of the nutrients into the ground. Last Saturday, on Saint Patrick's Day, we went forth with spade in hand and turned over the soil, raked it smooth, and began planting.
First came the cabbages. I had started the seeds in the house in February, and they were now ready for their new home. The bed had plenty of lime, ash, and manure and once Greg had it turned over, I started setting out the plants. I used bio-degradable peat pots to start my seeds so all I had to do was pull the bottom off and set them in a hole and cover them with dirt.
Then came the carrots and turnips. I read of a clever idea in Country Side magazine where a woman took an old salt shaker and used it to plant her carrot, lettuce, and radish seeds. I decided to try that myself, and it worked like a charm. But the holes were too small for the turnip seeds, so Greg broadcast them by hand the old fashioned way.
Then came the netting. I have lots of reasons for using bird netting. Birds can't dig up my seeds, bunnies and squirrels can't get through, and most of all, the cat can not use the nice loose dirt for his own personal sand box.
This morning we had a mild frost, but I covered my cabbages with small pots and they came through with flying colors. Soon frost time will be over, and the cabbages will be big enough I won't have to worry.
So now I have everything planted that an Irishman loves. Onions, carrots, cabbages, turnips, and green peas. And a fine fat ram lamb growing up at the barn. Everything you need for a good Irish stew!