Welcome Gardeners!

I haven’t been this excited since I grew a 40 pound watermelon! Thanks to Area Voices blogs, you and I can chat about gardening outside of our weekly Saturday visits in the Forum’s Growing Together column.

We can talk about all the day-to-day activities gardeners enjoy. I’ll reveal what I’m working on plant-wise around our house, and we can share tips and timely tasks. Some days we’ll just stop and smell the apple blossoms. Let’s do this twice per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I hope you’ll stop by and visit.

OK, let’s blog. By this date in November, the soil is usually frozen too solidly for digging or tilling. Because the weather’s been so pleasant, our carrots, parsnips and beets are still in the ground. It’s nice to leave them as long as possible because cool temperatures make them sweeter. I promised myself I’d dig them before fall rains made the garden muddy. Guess what? It’s raining. Maybe I can coax my wife, Mary, to hold the umbrella while I dig. Slogging around in wet Fargo clay is always a good time.

For digging root crops, a spading fork seems to work better than a shovel-type spade to loosen the soil and pry carrots or parsnips out of the ground. It’s a huge challenge to get the entire length of a carrot out of the ground without snapping it off, leaving half in the ground.

There’s something wholesome and solid about traditional gardening methods. I know carrots store well in refrigerators, but a few years ago I partitioned off an outer corner of the basement to make a “root cellar” just like my folks had when I grew up. I drilled a screened airhole to admit cool air from the outside. The root cellar quickly cools to about 40 degrees. Carrots store all winter in old-fashioned 15 gallon Redwing crocks, potatoes are placed in a bin made of concrete blocks, and squash and onions are stored on a shelf. The earthy aroma is wonderful.

Well, I better keep digging. Until next time – happy gardening!

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