The Connecticut Vegetable Garden by Col. Stoopnagle

            Inasmuch as the soil of the State of Connecticut is composed largely of dirt, I have been asked, as an unknown authority on the subject, to treat somewhat lightly of how to raise vegetables in it.

            The other night I was invited to a New England Boiled Weed dinner at a friend's, and found that my friend, after trying futilely to raise spinach with hard-boiled egg, had given up in despair and had concentrated on growing fine weeds.  He spent hours each day digging up stray radishes, beets, pumpkins and cucumbers and throwing them in the compost pile, and before he got through, he really had something, -- a whole acre of weeds and a delighted osteopath.  The osteopath became so excited at the sight of my sacro-ihaced friend that HE started a garden and now the osteopath has an osteopath.  The moral is that no matter WHAT kind of garden you have, SOMEONE profits.

            If you're going to have a vegetable garden, the first thing to do is to buy three times as many seeds of various sorts as you need.  Get a shovel and a hoe, dig up a square place in the ground and put the seeds in a nice, straight row, being careful not to mix the seeds with other varieties unless you are considering growing salad, which is dull without mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise does not do well in Connecticut because of the early frosts.  If, however, you are the kind of person who wants everything mixed, try planting cucumbers and strawberries together; I tried it last year and the cucumberries and strawcumbers came up fine.  The only trouble was, strangely enough, that all our strawberry shortcake that year had a cucumber taste.  Now guess what our cucumber salad tasted like!  It tasted like hell, if you want to know.

            How to Plant

             After putting the seeds in a straight row, like little soldiers, do not forget to cover them up with oith, or, as some say: "Serl."  If you leave the seeds exposed, only the roots grow, which is fine for worms but lousy for other human beings.  On the other hand, plant the seeds too deep and nothing comes up, which is better than just roots, at that.

            A neat little trick I learned about radishes is to peel each seed before you plant it.  This makes the radishes come up without the horrible-tasting red "skin" and saves the housewife just oodles and oodles of valuable time later on.  The difficulty with this experiment is, though, that the radishes don't look nearly as pretty on the table without the "skins" as they do with them, so why not just be patient and let Mother Nature take care of her own little radishes in the first place.

             If You Carrot All

            Carrots are fun.  Carrots take quite a while to germinate, though, like elephants.  But when that leafy stuff comes peeping up through the ground, and those orange-colored things go poking down, there's just nothing like them, except, perhaps, other carrots.  Sliced raw, and piled like the logs in a log cabin, they look delicious alongside a shaker-full of Martinis.  When you have disposed of the Martinis, I find that you really don't care HOW the carrots are piled.  Carrots fixed in this manner are known as hors d'oeuvres and are often mispronounced.

            Lima beans are allergic to Connecticut.  They look best in the form of seeds, all snug and warm in a little envelope marked LIMA BEANS in the hardware store window.  Put them into Connecticut mud, though, and while they come up and all that, you won't find a single bean on the bush.  If you are like me, though, and like the looks of the bean bush in the garden, with the leaves eaten away by bugs, you'll plant lima beans just for the pleasure and satisfaction of telling your friends that you know no beans will grow but that you are going to try again this year anyway.

            Can You Beet That?

            Beets are stuff that when you have been at the beach all day, people always say your face looks red as a.  They are also vegetables and what policemen walk their.  After you have planted the beet seeds, which look about as much like a beet as a newborn babe looks like a human being, and are just as homely, you will find that several of the plants are dead.  These are known as dead-beets and you'll find them in every line of business.

            Succotash seeds are nice.  You simply plant them and then whatever comes up, you separate it from whatever else comes up and you have corn and beans.  This is known as a switch on the other succotash jokes and is not to be taken seriously.

            There are other vegetables, too, I understand, but I can't for the life of me recall them, especially in such a short article.  We mustn't forget, however, that vegetable seeds must be planted in rows, in the ground, and that it's sometimes fun to make the rows cross each other.  This just occurred to me and isn't a half bad idea.  There'll probably be a slight feud where the lettuce crosses the cabbage or where the kohlrabis run across the chard, but the big fuss will come when the weeds run across the whole shebang.

            There is no such thing as shebang seeds.

[From Broun's Nutmeg, circa 1940]

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Page created November 14, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.