It was about this time last year my critics and readers were giving me very sharp scolding about my article on the game - hopscotch. Most of them were quick to say that it was very boring. I still think hopscotch is a good game for growing children. However, that was last year.
In this week's column we are going to discuss another outdoor activity that is very popular among all West Virginians - planting a vegetable garden.
We all know the temperatures this spring have been unseasonably warm. This would be a good time to consider getting the ground ready for what is one of my favorite hobbies.
When I was a youngster, I used to think that gardening was for women and old men, and guys my age were just plain sissies. Today most guys I know who like to hunt and fish also enjoy planting a vegetable garden.
Most people who have a garden each year usually try to do their planting after the last frost has passed. While I am keeping my fingers crossed, I really don't think that Randolph County has seen its last frost for this spring. In this county, I have seen frosts in late June. The good weather we are having is the time to get a garden plowed and then hit it with some fertilizer.
West Virginia has several climate zones. I know a few people in Kanawha County who already have their beans, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, onion sets, and radishes in the ground.
Another reason why I did not like to garden when I was growing up was because of the red clay soil in Kanawha County. Anyone who has ever worked to any extent with this type of soil knows that it is hard to get seeds to germinate and grow in red clay. When there are long periods without rain, red clay gets as hard as a brick. The soil in Randolph County is just about as different as day and night.
When I turned the ground over for my mother, I would then have to take a hoe and bust up the large dirt clods. Mom would then come out and put a blanket of a product called Vigaro and lime on what was tilled.
At first, I didn't like lime going on what I had turned over, but Mom seemed to know what she was doing. After all, she was much older and wiser than I was at that time.
Yesterday, I checked with a clerk at a local hardware store about the product Vigaro. He couldn't find it in any of his books. It may not be available anymore. From my own experience, the best fertilizer I have found is 10, 10, 10.
It was back in the early 80s when we had several frosts in one certain year. I ended up planing my entire garden on Memorial Day (May 30). It turned out to be one of the best gardens I ever planted. I had sunflowers, onion sets, Marglobe tomatoes, cabbage, Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins, and Silver Queen corn.
I got an exceptionally good yield from my corn. I took some of it back to Dunbar and gave it to my friends and relatives. I can still hear my uncle Bill asking me when I was talking to him at a wedding a month later, "what kind of corn was that you gave me? It was the best damn corn I have ever tasted. Every bite was a mouthful of sugar."
That particular year Randolph County had a late summer. Silver Queen is a 92-day corn. It should be planted in early May for best results.
Another year I had good luck with my pumpkins. I gave several of them to a lady I worked with in the hospital lab.
In other years when I had good luck with my pumpkins and butternut squash, I would let my two girls have some of them. They would set up a pumpkin stand in South Elkins and sell them. From this learning experience, I would let them keep the money.