Outdoors Column: You Can’t Fool Me

My wife and I both enjoy gardening. She is more into the flowers and shrubs where I like to raise vegetables. It is not a good thing when we go to the greenhouses together. Along with the flowers she “needs” she usually finds some interesting vegetables I should plant. I am not saying this is a bad thing, because I am just as guilty as she is. I find all the vegetables I need, plus a few others that look interesting, and go help her find flowers she did not know she needed. The greenhouse owners love to see us drive up. Not only do we buy much more than necessary, we buy them too early. I have always been one of the opinion, if you have veggies, they need to be planted. This line of thinking rarely turns out well.


On a random week-end in April, one of us will say to the other, “we should go to the greenhouse, just to see what they have.” Much to our surprise, they have all sorts of things we cannot live without. For our use, we need three or four tomato plants. Since they have interesting varieties, I buy four plants of at least three varieties. My wife will always find one more type we need, so we have sixteen or more tomato plants. We do the same thing with peppers. There are so many different kinds, a person feels obligated to try several. I usually do not remember from one year to the next which variety of which vegetable was the best and need to buy it again. I do remember though not to buy Carolina Reaper or Ghost Peppers. They are too hot to have any use at all.


My wife, being a woman, reads the planting directions on her flowers and waits patiently until the proper time to plant. I, being a guy, think of directions on vegetables as something for people who do not know what they are doing. The sooner I get things in the ground, the sooner we will have tomato sandwiches and stuffed peppers. While my wife might wait two or three weeks before she puts her delicate little flower plants out to face the world, I wait five or ten minutes. It toughens up a tomato plant and makes it hardy to face the rigors of chilly nights. It also makes them dead to get frozen. A few  weeks later, when I am sure all chances of frost are passed, we go make the same mistake of buying too many tomato and pepper plants to replace the ones that died.


I know the greenhouses count on me, and many others, to buy their vegetables twice. This year, I will not be fooled. It is not because I have suddenly developed patience or learned from prior mistakes. The fact of the matter is even I am wise enough to know, a person cannot plant greenhouse plants if you need scrape the snow off the garden first. That is the way it has been this year. I just start to get that uncontrollable urge to plant stuff when it snows again.


It might be a costly year for greenhouses as I will most likely wait until the ground is warm and the sun is shining. I will not be fooled into thinking two warm days in a row means spring is here to stay. It is possible though, at the rate we are going this year, my little plants might get frozen off in June and I will still have to replant.