Early garden planting

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps gets a little help planting early crops in the family's "three-family garden" at Roshara, the family's Waushara County farm.

During these days when the world seems upside down and tomorrow remains a mystery, many people are turning to gardening. So many that when I tried to buy some additional seeds this past week, the two garden catalogs that I regularly ordered from had the words “Out of stock” alongside many popular vegetable seeds.

As many of you know, I am a long-time vegetable gardener, learning from my mother way back during the Depression years when we depended on our big garden for the food on our table. Both my mother and dad were excellent gardeners, and both loved doing it.

Last weekend we planted the early crops for our three-family garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm. For those interested, we planted nine rows of potatoes (five of Kennebec, and four Pontiac Red). Two short rows of lettuce, one short row of kale, one row of carrots, one short row of radishes, a row of rutabagas, and a short row of beets.

Memorial Day weekend we will plant green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, sweet corn, and sunflowers. We’ll set out the tomato plants that I have been nursing inside under a grow light, plus we’ll set out some broccoli and cabbage plants. We’ll also find some room for zinnias, which seem to do well in our garden. One of Pa’s mantras was, every vegetable garden needs a little special beauty.

I’ll share a progress report as the season goes along—no two seasons are ever alike.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: One way to avoid food shortages is to grow your own.

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