Worthington gardens grow (in popularity, too)WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s community gardens all were spoken for by the middle of this month. If you didn’t reserve a garden plot, you are too late.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s community gardens all were spoken for by the middle of this month. If you didn’t reserve a garden plot, you are too late.
The community gardens actually are Minnesota West’s gardens, a long-standing good turn the college offers the community. The gardens are on the east edge of the Minnesota West campus, bordering Thompson Avenue.
Tammy Neyens, who is in charge of the community garden project, says, “I have never seen anything like this. In other years I had to send out a mailing — sometimes call people. This year they all were spoken for. Early.”
There are 26 gardens, or plots, each measuring 20 ft. x 50 ft. — 520 ft. x 1,300 ft. of garden space. There is rental fee of $10.
“I don’t know the reasons,” Neyens says, “but Worthington is going to have more gardens this year than they have had since I have worked with this project.”
A decision to plant a garden in 2009 may be due to the nose-diving economy, of course. Michelle Obama has given home gardens encouragement with her decision to dig up a part of the White House lawn for a vegetable garden. The White House crew is going heavy on lettuce and skipping sweet corn. There’ll be peas, radishes and rhubarb. Broccoli, but no beets.
The First Lady stresses the health benefits of homegrown, organic vegetables.
The new popularity of vegetable gardens at Worthington brings to mind the Victory Gardens that Worthington residents cultivated through the years of World War II. Everything was rationed in that time. There were occasional shortages of one food or another. I have no idea how many backyard Victory Gardens were scattered across the town site, but there were many of them.
I will tell you something — well, something funny. It was given to me to hoe our Victory Garden. I attacked weeds regularly through the summers, and I attacked with spirit. One slogan at that time was, “Gardens Help to Win the War.” I was a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout. I wanted to do my part. Every sticker weed was a Nazi rat.
We hear often of new menaces coming into our world. Emerald Ash borers, for example. Now and again we score victories, not against Nazi feverfew but against these insect perils.
In the Victory Garden, two or three times a summer — I don’t remember exactly — I used to go on patrol with a coffee can about one-fifth filled with kerosene. I was after potato bugs. We all battled potato bugs. It was necessary to check each leaf, top and bottom. Potato bugs were lifted off and dropped in the kerosene.
Now and again, at least, those masses of bugs were set afire. They crackled and popped. This probably is outrageous, cruel and unusual, but it is the truth.
In more recent years I have grown potatoes in non-victory gardens. I never found a potato bug. This is one menace which seems to have disappeared.
Henry Thoreau says that in his garden at Walden Pond he planted seven miles of beans. I think it always seems like seven miles when you are picking them. I picked beans. It also was my chore to snibble beans. I am not certain snibble is a word. This is what it was called in my mother’s family. Snibbling was snipping off each end of a green bean — you must snibble before cooking.
I like beets. By this date I like beets as much for the tops as for the bottoms. I have eaten beet greens only once (maybe twice) in my life but — give them their due — beet greens with their maroon veins are as lovely as any leafs in any garden, vegetable or flower.
Of course the Victory Gardens featured tomatoes, which are not being included in the White House garden. I think I know the reason why.
Tomatoes can be grown about anywhere in the United States except maybe for parts of Texas and the Southwest. Wherever they are grown, no tomatoes excel the tomatoes grown in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. No tomato in a White House garden would be the equal of a Worthington tomato, a Windom tomato, a Wilmont tomato.
This is where the best tomatoes grow.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.