Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

We miss a lot of fun in these days of comp...

We miss a lot of fun in these days of computers, soap operas and food freezers. This is the time of year when we compete with Mother Nature and with our neighbors to see who can be first. For example, we had our first asparagus last week, our cabbage and broccoli plants -- frozen and flooded as they are -- put on their first real growth, and we were first in how much the rain gauge registered after the big rain.

My neighbor was first in how big the hailstones were, and we were lucky because we didn’t get a one! The last big hail was years ago, and I decided to gather up some of the largest. That wasn’t easy because I got battered with the ones that fell while I was still sorting out smaller ones for larger treasures. I put about a dozen in the freezer and had proof, all summer, that our hailstones were really big -- not like golf balls at all because each one was several stones frozen into single, irregular clumps.

William McHarg used to take a first pink radish to church and show it off while the congregation was singing. I couldn’t do that when my claim to fame were enormous heads of broccoli and cauliflower. April and May produce a lot of firsts; however, what we miss most is the old-time delicious tastes.

How many people under 30 have gone to their very own strawberry patch and picked and eaten one right off the vine? Many have, of course, but it wasn’t the thrill it used to be because we’ve had strawberries all year long! Shipped in ones, frozen ones and chunks of strawberry in our ice cream cones can’t match the taste of that very first shiny one eaten warm and unwashed in your own strawberry patch.

It’s the same with spinach, radishes, grapes and zucchini. Before long, we’ll be hard put to find someone who’d like another zucchini, and I’ll enjoy the first of that because I’m too frugal to pay the price for a little banana-size zucchini in the stores, off season. I was pretty dumb not to plant a lot of quick-growing lettuce in a big flower pot this year. Last year I did that and picked lettuce leaves as fast as they matured. I chose head lettuce, this time, and it has survived the cold and wet, but it’s just begun to grow.

As the summer progresses, we’ll look forward to the first sweet corn. This is one that air freight and freezers can’t match. Our neighbor treats us to sweet corn that’s planted four long rows at a time, once a week for as long as it has a chance to mature. Raccoons know when it’s at its best and their heavy weight breaks stalks down to where they can eat the corn on the ground. We watch for coon damage and pick our first ears as soon as we see the trash between rows.

In late summer, there’s that first cantaloupe, honey dew and watermelon. We buy plants for these and set them out when the ground is warm. At the price of honey dew, I have raised about $100 worth each of several summers. Learning to buy plants made the difference because they require a long growing period. Two years ago, one of my plants produced a “nest full” -- seven large dews that looked like so many dinosaur eggs!

So important is the competition for first tomato that I’m willing to buy three or four of those started plants -- already blooming -- potted and ready to be transplanted. The problem with this is, my competitors do the same -- I learned it from them!

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