By Lynne Irons>

There is nothing like carefree youth. While driving near the Tisbury School, I saw a young boy with a broken foot on crutches riding happily on a skateboard. I laughed out loud — only because I wasn’t his mother.

I gave away my Rototiller. I was sick of dislocating my shoulder every time I pulled the starter rope. Over the years I have worked improving my soil to the point that I can literally scratch a hole and throw in a plant. Years ago I admired Ruth Stout, author of How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back. I saw a video of her in the seventies. She was well into her eighties at the time. She believed in using only hay on her gardens. She called it manure that had yet to go through the horse. In the video she hobbled out to her garden with a basket of sprouted potatoes. She moved aside a flake of hay with her cane, tossed in a potato, turned to the camera with a sly grin, and remarked “plantin’s done.” As I wrote about several times, the hay method I used for my potato crop last summer was very successful. Mulch hay is about $4 a bale. A small garden (10x10) takes, at the most, six bales.

Here it is the beginning of March. Honestly, the weeks and months fly by — the days can take forever. I took a walkabout at some job sites. It is amazing how many plants are beginning to show themselves. Sedum is rapidly becoming my favorite. There are so many varieties. It is coming up all over including in a bed near the Edgartown Harbor that had sand, seaweed and water swirling about during some winter storms.

Dragon’s blood is a bright red, ground-hugging sedum that is much more hardy and dependable than creeping thyme between paving stones. It has started growing already.

As I mentioned last column, I am eating up all my processed food from last year’s garden. I came across some pickles which, regrettably, had become slightly mushy. I hated to see their little lives in vain, so I tossed them into the Cuisinart along with some olive oil and actually made a decent salad dressing. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

That reminds me, I loved Frank Zappa.

Thank you, Tom Chakas for the response concerning wineberries. He informed: “Wineberry, Rubus phoenicolius, originates in China, Japan and North Korea. It was introduced to the United States in 1890 as an ornamental and for breeding other rubus cultivars and is considered invasive.” Wish more would invade my property.

I ordered some apple trees from the Seeds of Change catalog. Talk about wishing I had done that 20 years ago. I ordered some old-fashioned heirloom cultivars. I loved the descriptions of each. Most were late season and could be used for cider. I ordered eight. Why get one or two? They are Calville blank, Fearns pippin, Hudson’s golden gem, Newtown pippin, northern spy, spigold, Spitzenberg, and white Pearmain. The Spitzenberg was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple and goes back to the 1800s in New York state.

I spent over an hour chopping back an overgrown forsythia. I know it is the worst time to prune the spring-blooming shrubs but I had the time and the saw was sharp. Luckily, I made some twiggy arrangements to force inside. I made a nice fountain shape on the bush and got rid of the dead weed. I know I will be happy eventually, although, on first glance, one might comment, “Oh, my!”

I was at Mermaid Farm last Saturday morning. The cows were in the barn as it was raining. They were contentedly chewing their cuds and a childhood memory literally flooded over me. My grandpa Bill had cows. One warm summer afternoon I came into the barn as he was milking Bossy. He squirted milk all over me right from the cow. He got a kick out of his life.

Abigail Higgins loaned me Clarissa Allen’s copy of the book The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works — and How It’s Transforming the American Economy, by Charles Fishman (Penguin Press 2006).

After I settle down a bit from being outraged and saddened I will have fodder for several more columns. Good luck to you, dear reader. How much can we really afford to save?