Maggieâ€™s Farm- Part 2: Lessonâ€™s Learned
By Susan Heydon
Editors Note: Here is the link to Maggie’s Farm part 1 if you missed it.
Maggie at the Farm Part one
This article looks at the difference between Urban and Rural attitudes to water and our limited resources.
I need not have worried about the water. Two weeks after the initial planting the three of us drove out to the farm to see how things were doing. Since we had rain the week before I was not too concerned. The minute we opened the car door Maggie was off out to the garden.
Her â€œbuddiesâ€ had to be out there somewhere. Ah, there they are. Well, I must say they had certainly been busy. All the tomato plants were surrounded by wire plant cages: and there seemed to be miles of green watering hose running in every direction. Right in the middle stood a rain bird spewing water over the entire field. Not to worry, they said. We have a great well here. It just took a little while to get everything connected. Oh yea of little faith, I thought to myself. What was I thinking? Farmers are the best at problem solving.
Living in town you take turning on your tap and getting water for granted. Not so on a farm. We are now talking well water. As children we learned very early every drop was precious. Long hot summers meant conservation. Rain barrels were a must, dishes were washed in a basin and the water used for watering. The same applied to the water in your washing machine. Nothing went down the drain. It was carted outside and used on the garden. That early training has lasted us a lifetime.
I expressed my concern about using too much water. I need not have worried. These farmers had years of training too. They knew exactly what they were doing. They were monitoring the garden every day. I swear it gave them a new interest and a new topic to discuss over those evening coffees.
In just a couple of weeks the change was amazing. The lettuce, beets and radish were up, the tomatoes had grown and we were all feeling pretty proud of ourselves. Maggie did her usual inspection and then we would sit in the shade and cool off.
As the weeks went by we feasted on fresh veggies and keep an eye on all those tomato plants. Our only failure was the radishes. With all the heat we had this summer they bolted and went to seed in a week. The few radishes we picked were super hot and very
â€œ woodyâ€. I checked one of the many books I have on gardens and found that radishes donâ€™t like too much nitrogen. Well guess what. The whole barnyard, of course, had been home to a herd of cows, so lots of old manure, hence the nitrogen. Oh well lesson learned for next year. Yes I know, what are we thinking, but we honestly had so much fun weâ€™re going to repeat the whole experience over again.
So now, does anyone need tomatoes? We are buried in them. From the first ripening until last week we have picked, and picked and picked: Bushels of them. Luckily I have sisters-in-law that make spaghetti and chili sauce. We took baskets in to work and gave them away. Iâ€™m glad we all like toasted tomato sandwiches. I think even Maggie was getting tired of guarding her garden. Exploring was much more fun. (More on the porcupine later).
Now, for the real surprise: A new tractor arrived last week at the farm. What for I couldnâ€™t imagine. â€œ Why for the rows of potatoes next year!â€ I was told. Youâ€™ve got to be kidding me. Oh and by the way, how about strawberries and a few raspberry canes. â€œWhere on earth are we planting them?â€ I ask. Over there by the rhubuarb. What rhubarb?? Sheepishly they look at each other. We only planted 5 small roots and we thought some carrots, and, stop I canâ€™t take anymore!!
This summer has been without a doubt very interesting. Gardening always brings me in close contact with my Dad. I know he followed our progress very carefully. He was always in that whisper of the wind as it played across our vegetable patch. I know he would have been very proud of me. All of the knowledge he imparted to us as children has come full circle. Thanks Dad, you were the best.
Oh and one more thing. My husband is now known around town as â€œthe tomato guyâ€. Go figure.