Digital Access

Digital Access
Access newtondailynews.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
News, sports, local and regional entertainment and more!

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
Column

Hunkered down spring

I tilled a pick-up load of composted sheep manure into our garden. I know I will be roundly criticized by at least one reader for using sheep manure.“It's too strong. You'll burn the plants and ruin the taste of your vegetables.” This same reader criticized me for using chicken manure, and we had an outstanding garden that year — best one ever, actually.

We got most of our seed in bulk from the Dutchman's Store in Cantril, as well as the tomato plants. We planted buttercrunch, Romaine, and cutting blend lettuce; cherry belle and white icicle radishes; Detroit dark red beets; yellow and sweet onions; slicer cucumbers; blue lake bush and pole beans; acorn squash; La Roma, better boy, beef master, big boy and husky cherry red tomatoes; and bonnie green bell and red bell sweet peppers. For sweet corn we selected all bodacious as compared to last year when we had three varieties of sweetcorn. The bodacious, as its name implies, proved to be the best. To not have all the sweetcorn ripen at once, we're planting it in three spurts—one spurt a week for three weeks. (In my old age I'm learning moderation. Imagine that.) We also have decorative (Indian) corn and hills of Howden pumpkins nestled in the corn. The “punkins” love to sneak out of the corn and show off a sun ball of orange against the backdrop of green, like a parent showing off its child. I love fall colors.

This year the weather cooperated and we got our garden in on May 2. A nice, slow rain followed. Perfect. Last year, because of all the rain, we didn't get the garden in until June 6. (We've been keeping little maps of our gardens each year, with dates of planting.) As usual, when putting in the garden, the rhubarb and asparagus were begging for attention, so Ginnie baked a rhubarb, strawberry, cream cheesecake to celebrate. Oh, man.

The Gold Finches (State Bird of Iowa) arrived, hungry and ready for nesting. When dandelions are golden, here come the finches. I hustled out and freshened up their feeders. They have our house marked, “The Swarm's with the blue roof.” I dearly love watching them hang upside down, pecking at seed. Our picture window is like a Cineramic movie screen with golden birds hanging upside down, green tractors working the black soil in nearby fields and orange engines of the BNSF railroad pulling America out of its slump. Our two-and-a-half acre Empty Nest farm is a safe haven from the ills of the world. We don't even have to wear a mask in the garden

Missing church, and not really fulfilled by “online service,” we attended Faith Christian Outreach Church's (FCOC) “parking lot service.” We had heard a lot about it and wanted to see it for ourselves. I'll admit, FCOC is energetic and creative. They had one semi-trailer stacked on top of another and used the top trailer for a stage. Now that's going the extra hectare. People pulled into the parking lot, stayed in their cars to keep socially distant, and the pastor preached from atop the two semi-trailers. It was like a drive-in movie church. We tuned our radio to an FM station and heard, “Say yes to God.”

A late frost warning had us scampering to cover the tomato and pepper plants. We had to leave early the next morning and left the plants covered. Upon returning, we found our tomato and pepper plants cooked from the day's heat, even though temperatures had only been in the sixties. Uh, oh. I got a good chewing out from Ginnie. We're hoping the plants will survive. I gave them a shot of water and said my prayers. We'll see.

The lettuce and radishes are poking their heads up. That's good news, so we planted a redbud tree and six rose bushes — my favorite flower that blooms all season long.

Hunkered down we may be, but spring has sprung for real.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com

Loading more