This past week while enjoying a balmy mid-winter Mississippi evening in shorts, t-shirt and barefoot, plans began to form in my head on getting an early start on this year’s tomato and pepper garden.
I had already expressed to my wife a desire to expand the garden a little bit this year hoping to spread out rather than up. Readers of this column know that the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to have some very tall, very productive tomato plants. A 16 foot tall vine requires a minimum 10 foot ladder to retrieve the fruits of one’s labor. That, my friends, is a fact I learned from experience.
My garden is small and concentrated around the base of our kitchen porch, dubbed The Kitchen Porch Cafe at Delialand. Delialand, for those that are not familiar, is the name we gave our place after my late grandmother Delia Mae Hudson who was proprietor there for most of my life.
The current “raised.” I suppose is the correct term, garden is made from some old enamel coated large canners, a wash tub, and some small barrels surrounded by a ring of brick from the old fireplace chimney we pulled down several years ago. It’s all nestled along the southeastern edge of the porch in the corner between the house and the steps.
It produces really well and we were still eating the fruits of our labor in January, when I got lazy and tired of covering the thing during freezing evenings and frosty mornings.
By the way a January tomato is not “just” as good as a summer one, but pretty darn close.
So, my plans were — still are I suppose — to build a true “raised garden” addition along a separate side, the more southernly side, of the porch using landscape timbers like we’ve seen in magazines. Perhaps not quite as fancy as we’ve seen in magazines, but still just as functional.
My plans were to get started on that in the very near future so as to be able to get some plants in the ground just as soon as I thought I could keep them going though late winter evening freezes and early morning frosts. Maybe even before the end of this current month.
Then it happened and my plans are now at a standstill at this writing last Friday before the pending very hard freeze and possible ice storm that was predicted the first part of this week. My goal was to get this written and the bulk of the paper ready for print should the pending freeze and possible ice storm arrive and knock out power in these parts.
But, that’s not what put my plans on hold. What put my plans on hold is what happened about 3:00 a.m. last Thursday morning. If you didn’t hear it, or hear about it, you must be a very sound sleeper.
It thundered about 3:00 a.m. last Thursday morning and it thundered loud, and hard, and long. It hailed too, but I don’t think that matters to this story.
Thunder in February means frost on the same day in April. Everyone knows that, right?
I’m rethinking, because if I plant my plants around the February/March border, and it is going to frost on April 11, I stand a chance of loosing the fruits of my labor before the fruits of my labor are mature enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
So, while I was rethinking my plan I found a few other problems that might mess with my fruit via the faithful and factual Google on the Internet.
• If it thunders in February, it will snow in May. That would be even worse.
• The number of times it thunders in January tells the number of frosts in April and I didn’t even document those.
I better re-think until after we see what happens this week.
On a final, yet unrelated note, I learned in my research that the first thunder in spring wakes up the snakes.