Green Thumb-Chapter Four-Finally Some Action!

Gardening angst and roto-tillers that rule

Our spring has been so wet it’s not been possible to turn over the soil.  Roto-till people (you catch them as they drive by the plots or take their names from the little signs around the place) would tell you it’s too wet. When we contacted them, they said, “Wait, it’s too wet”.  Wait?  Wait?  We’ve waited we said.  Our little plants are getting stringy and tired of being confined to their tiny property in plastic containers.

My sense is if you own a roto-tiller at this time of year, you are the supreme ruler. Everyone wants you-you don’t make appointments-you say you may be by Wednesday or possibly Thursday or maybe next weekend.  Wait, they said, those roto-tiller owners-it’s too wet.  I suggested to my gardening buddy that we might want to buy a roto-tiller.  If we did that, it would make our potatoes worth $300 each, we figured.  She talked me out of it-no roto-tiller for us (at least this year).  I can see it though-a little garden tractor, my International Harvester hat, my smartphone where I can make appointments and keep them “in the cloud” and access them when out on the land.  Agriculture meets leading edge software.   We could have sirius satellite radio in the tractor cab along with a cappuccino maker.

Some of the gardeners have had their plots for several years-the soil has been tended, mulch and other good things have been added.   They have added more soil and they have lovely raised beds.  They don’t need no stinkin’ roto-tiller.  They stand out on the land and turn over their lovely soil without breaking a sweat.  Their land drains well; they planted before the long weekend.

Finally some action and gardening by the numbers!

Mother Nature provided a window for us starting in early June.  The rain held off, the wind blew very hard and finally the roto-tiller person was able to get to our plot.  It was still a bit wet but at this point…we were just happy to have it done.  Within 2 hours of the last tilling, we were out at the plot. And this was our gardening, by the numbers:

  • 29-the total number of person hours we put in planting the garden this past weekend.  Hours of digging and carrying and wheel barrow work, bending and kneeling and stooping and digging, watering and measuring and making rows and planting seeds and seedlings and digging…did I mention digging?  As for sore muscles, well, we took some comfort in the fact that some of our neighbours who are significantly younger were talking about how sore they were after the manual labour.

  • 28-the number of rows we planted.  All measured and marked, using our cute little Lee Valley Tools retractable tape measures.  Rows of carrots, onions, squash, swiss chard, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, fennel, pumpkin as well as, already started and now transplanted, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, sage and rosemary.
  • 110-the number of days it says our pumpkin seeds will take to grow and mature.  Plus we were supposed to start the seeds indoors three weeks before the last frost.  We did none of that.  We figure we may have a pumpkin if the growing season extends to December this year.
  • 1-day one-freshly planted hills of potatoes.  We did extensive research on how to plant potatoes and what to put with them to make them grow quickly.


  • 2-day two.  We came back to continue the planting of the garden and all of our research and effort paid off.  Look at the potatoes today! 
  • Allright-this might be the one time that Barb’s true stories aren’t true.
  • Priceless-the time spent in the garden with a friend.
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2 Responses to Green Thumb-Chapter Four-Finally Some Action!

  1. Cheryl says:

    I am planning to be at your house at harvest time! (Not sure about the Swiss Chard, though…)
    (P.S. If you do get a roto-tiller next year, I am pretty sure I could get you a used John Deere cap. International Harvester is for sissies!) Cheryl

    • There is brand loyalty in every area…isn’t there? From laundry soap to farm equipment. There are lots of John Deere enthusiasts for sure. I have also heard the following conversation: Do you know why John Deere tractors are painted green? So they can hide in the grass while the red ones work. You would be welcome at harvest time-particularly out at the garden to help harvest.

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