Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hardening Off

My beloved Grandpa Ralph was not a born farmer.  He was the son of an electrician, born during the Great Depression.  His mother died when he was just a young boy, and as the youngest of three brothers, he became a home-maker, of sorts, for his family. 

He married my Grandma Evelyn, the child of a sugar beet farmer, and I guess a love of the Earth came with marrying a pretty farmer's daughter.  I spent a good portion of my childhood playing in and around Grandpa Ralph's garden.  The first thing that came up, were the peas.  I can remember picking them and eating them straight off the vine.  Then came the radishes, long and white...and spicy enough to tickle a sneeze out of you!  Then the onions...Grandpa would pick one, brush off the dirt and eat it like an apple.  And finally the pumpkins he would grow for his grandchildren, for carving jack-o-lanterns in the Fall.

I come by my love of the earth honestly enough, even though my Mother tried to weed it out of me by countless hours spent fruitlessly weeding the flower patches.  Luckily for my kids, I don't have the wretched ever green shrubs my mom had that would cause rashes all along our arms.

Almost everything that goes in my vegetable garden each year, I grow from seed.  I love watching for the first sight of a spindly nubbin of a plant push its way through the earth and begin to unfurl.

Here's where they are now.  Doing so great.  The thing about growing your own seeds, is there's a heck of a lot of stuff you don't know.  Luckily I learn a bit more each year.  Today I am helping my plants to "harden off".   The very brush of a breeze over a new plant's leaves and stem cause it to become tougher.  The slight movements enable a reaction in the plant to thicken the stems and make them stronger against the elements and prepare them to be planted.  Look at them...growing big old muscles.

They are currently resting on the trampoline where the dog will not destroy them.  The trampoline is next to my veggie patch...and I just had to take a peak at the project that is to come in the next couple of do not want to see what is going on there after a long winter...or do you?

Mmm ever just sit and think...where do all the socks go? 

Are those carrots...growing?  I clearly did not clean out the garden very well last fall...I think by having left the carrots in all winter, if I left them there they would now grow seeds and I could harvest my own carrot seeds...I'll think about leaving them, just to see.

The raspberry canes!  Did you know that you harvest raspberries from last year's growth?  There you go.  Don't prune your new growth each year or you'll get no berries.

And lastly my lovely perennial herbs.  You know it's spring when the chives, tarragon and mint start growing.  I've got to get the rake out and clear last year's leaves away.

I am loving all the green that is emerging everywhere I look.

Happy spring day everybody!

Thanks for reading.



  1. Cute story about Grandpa! I loved spending time in his garden..and his ditch.

  2. This is incredibly helpful! I am starting my first ever herb garden and I has no idea you needed to do anything such as hardening of the plant. But it makes sense. Glad I checked this out!

  3. How fun to see Heather! You go girl! I'll be starting my pumpkins soon! Hey....are you selling any of those sock seeds??!! I always seem to find silverware in my garden!

  4. Such an awesome post Heather - I love your writing!!! As you set about planting your seedlings - I'm at the stage of clearing dead and dying plants that have run their course, and getting the garden tidied up for Winter :-(


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