Wednesday, March 19, 2008

From the Archives: The Hope-Lives-Eternal Garden

An ugly carrot surprise. I had a lot of these maggot-ridden disgusters in the Sumas garden. Mixing diatomaceous earth into the planting beds helped.

This diary excerpt from Cohasset Beach Chronicles highlights some enduring themes--winter gardening, pests, and local eating, brought on in this case by WWII food and fuel rationing.
Feb. 24, 1945
Sunday--a beautiful blue-skyed day--I took my spade and went to my vegetable patch. I dug up and threw away the chard plants. (The Victory Garden books said they would winter over. And they did. And so did the little beetles curled up in the leaves, snug as pigs in pokes.) I dug up and threw away the winter beets--what four-flushers they turned out to be--all top and no beet. The carrots--I guess I planted them too close together--were gross, many-fingered obscene hands. The parsnips were interlaced with black lines from stem to stern and looked, when split in two, not unlike sections of read maps from heavily populated areas.

I threw these winter crops in a bonfire. "Don't put infested vegetables in the compost heap," cautions the Victory Garden book. "Burn them." That dictum deals me out of ever having a compost heap and throws me automatically into the inexpert or bonfire class. (If the day ever comes when I can toss an uninfested turnip top onto a compost heap, I'll give the story to the Associated Press.) Then, with the ground cleared of last year's failures, I plunged a hopeful spade into a clod of crab grass and turned it over--the 1945 Hope Lives Eternal season was off to a good start.

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