My cucumbers sprouted first. Thursday! Cucumbers and zucchini usually sprout right away. At least that is my experience. What’s yours? Feel free to write a short comment.
Speaking of experience: firstly, i am not a gardening expert. Gardening is a hobby of mine. This hobby began when i was in 4th grade. It was the Spring of 1966 and i lived well outside the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina. Some would say that “i lived in the country” or that “i was country”. Anyway my neighborhood consisted of 3-4 houses within a 3 block (“country” blocks, not city blocks — “country” blocks are a little bigger) radius and after that the nearest neighbors were at least 2 to 3 miles away. In between the neighbors was farmland, livestock, wells, springs, wild hogs, bobwhite quails, vultures, snakes and many other critters.
I lived with my uncle and aunt at the time. My uncle had a large garden wherein he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, corn, squash and green beans. I was so fascinated by the work that he did that i decided to pursue gardening myself. First i joined the 4H Club at my school and began to learn about soil and how its quality is important to planting and cultivating vegetables. I remember that we were given small boxes to take home. Our assignment was to collect soil samples, fill the box and turn it in to the 4H Club leaders. Our boxes would then be taken to labs and the quality of the soil would be sampled. A report would be generated that rated the quality of the soil in each box. I grabbed a sample of soil from our back yard (not the garden area) and turned it in. This sampling and report generation process would take several weeks.
In the meantime, I asked my aunt and uncle for permission to plant my own garden. You should have seen the grins that question elicited. They knew that I had no clue about cultivating a garden, nonetheless, I was a spoiled nephew and they gave me what i wanted.
We lived in a wooden house that my uncle built himself. The house sat in the middle of an acre of tract that was cleared of trees and brush. To the right of the house was another large clearing. This is where my uncle’s garden was planted. Behind the house was a large chicken coop. In back of the coop was a forest, referred to, by the kids of our small community, as “the woods”. To the left of the house was the lawn with a few trees scattered about. My garden would be in the rear section of this area. Early on a Saturday morning, my uncle got me out of bed, we ate breakfast –grits, fresh eggs and fresh sausage of course … after all this was rural South Carolina– and we headed to the garden spot. He picked up two tools that we would work with: a pick axe and a hoe. My garden would be a small garden. The spot was no more than 10 x 6 feet in length and width. He taught me how to break the ground with the pick axe. I was a small and the pick axe was nearly taller than me. After a few swings, my uncle gave me a “good job” and asked for the pick axe. He then began to finish breaking all the ground in my junior garden.
After breaking ground, we proceeded to pull out all the clumps of grass, dandelion weed, other weeds and rocks from the broken soil. This is where the hoe came in handy. You would rake the clumps of broken soil in a back and forth motion to discover the rocks. You would remove the rocks and the excess weeds and then you would use the hoe to break up the clumps into fine soil that was ready for seeds. Finally we used the hoe to make 4 long furrows. We were close to finishing.
My uncle showed me how to make little holes in the soil with my fingers, about 3 to 4 inches deep, for planting the seeds. He showed me the proper spacing between the holes. This was especially important for vegetables that grew on vines. We finished planting all the seeds and filled all the holes with soil. The first row was yellow squash, the second row was tomatoes, the third row was watermelon and the fourth row would be green beans. We finally finished and I stepped back and admired my garden. The large rectangle of broken soil, organized into long furrows surrounded by green grass looked very swell!
Two weeks later, the sprouts were a sprouting!
Stay Tuned for Next Week’s Chapter: Finally, The Soil Report Arrived