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COLUMN: Looking forward to the first harvest
New American Gothic

COLUMN: Looking forward to the first harvest

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Yes, gardening has started. It’s the peas.

Even though it is cold, and the nights are going below freezing, we might as well plant peas. I suppose the worst that could happen is the peas might not come up, and we might have to plant again.

The thing about that is sometimes we plant again, and the ones we planted before come up at the same time as the later ones.

One great thing about peas is the shoots make a really good vegetable at about 5 inches. You can always go out with the scissors and cut some shoots for a pan fry if you have a surplus.

We started them in trays in the house two months ago just so we’d have fresh greens to go with meals.

After two clippings the stubble goes out to the compost.

We just have daffodils emerging, along with iris and the other early bulbs. I’ve already seen flowers on the other side of the mountain and south.

Now, I will start probing every day or so to see when the frost is out of the ground. Then I can start planting fence posts and a new mailbox post.

This winter was the current mailbox’s last. Even though it spins around, it just got too beat up by the snowplow this year.

It has become deformed, just like all our previous boxes, and I have been reattaching it to its post by sheer magic.

When it fell off in a gust last week, I replaced it with the giant rural box I replaced 30 years ago.

That old box had to be retired because it, too, had seen enough of the plow, but it served, now and then, over the years as a good place for a trowel and some other small garden hand tools.

Last year it seems to have been home to a small colony of wasps. It was in the Penance Shed on the floor.

The Penance Shed was built on a lark out of a used cold frame, a bunch of not-quite-straight 2-by-4s, some reused boards, and old roofing tin. It looks like it.

The best part about it is the peaked roof, which I put together out of reused 2-by-8s. I think I’m going to reuse that roof for a little store, or a covered entrance on the snow dump side of the barn in back. It is a herculean effort to clear those doors in the winter.

I meant to dismantle the whole of the Penance Shed last year, but I decided to spend my extra time then losing control of my diabetes, developing a mysterious case of chronic asthma, and feeling exhausted a great deal of the time.

After having my second COVID vaccine I visited my doctor, so hopefully these blessings will be brought under rein at very least.

For now, we, and I suppose the bunnies, too, can look forward to and hope for some fresh peas and pea sprouts as the first harvest of this year’s garden.

It’s a positive first step, anyway.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, N.Y. Leave a message at


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