It's up to Mother Nature as to what kind of garden year it will be

Jerry Apps
Natasha carefully places mulch around the tender garden plants.

Memorial Day—a day for memories. A time to recognize veterans. A day for visiting graves of loved ones. And a time to finish planting our vegetable garden.

We planted our first garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm, in 1967. We have planted a garden there every year since. I should be more accurate about the “we.”  I do little these days except for offering a word of advice, and starting the tomato plants from seed.

For the past several years, my son, Steve and my daughter-in-law Natasha have done 99 percent of the planting, weeding, and harvesting. For those interested, in what we plant and when, here is a rundown. On April 25, Steve and Natasha planted six rows of potatoes, plus onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, peas, carrots, and beets.

May 23, a week early, but my workers' schedules had to take first place, the garden two-some planted: sweet corn, pumpkins, winter squash, zucchini, green cabbage plants, red cabbage plants, kohlrabi, a few hills of gourds, and 6 rows of tomatoes. We are great lovers of fresh tomatoes, and Ruth continues to make many pints of tomato soup that we enjoy throughout the winter. Finally, following my dad’s admonition to plant something pretty in the garden, they planted a row of flowers, including zinnias and sunflowers.

One of the gardening tricks we learned over the years is to put mulch around the tomato plants as well as around cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi plants.  On our sandy loam soil, the mulch helps to conserve moisture as well as keep down weeds.

Now it’s up to Mother Nature as to what kind of a garden year it will be—each one has its surprises, both good and bad.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Each year the garden is the same; each year it is different.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.