Dirty hands, warm heart

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

It feels sooo good to write a gardening column this week. March 14 was the official kickoff of spring for me. Hunter and I, after amending the soil with alfalfa pellets, planted onions, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach … seems like there’s something else … lettuce … umm … that red, leafy stuff I planted among the lettuce. Jeez, the mind just bottoms out when you reach the Methuselistic age of 47, as I did Saturday.

Along semi-related lines, I think there’s a certain amount of ignorance in the way the public in general uses the term “organic.” I also think there’s a certain amount of fanaticism in the way people approach “organic” foods.

I don’t use poison in my gardens, not the flower gardens, but especially not the vegetable garden. Nor do I use Miracle Gro or other “processed” fertilizers. (Again, I don’t use “processed” herbicides or insecticides, but please note that I don’t use the word “chemical” because all fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides are chemicals, and most herbicides and insecticides are “organic,” or carbon-based.)

No, no. All I use for fertilizer in my vegetable garden are compost, fish emulsion, alfalfa pellets and steer manure. (But tell me, why is it OK to use blended fish guts and cow shit in my garden, but not nice purified nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium? (Have you noticed I love parenthetical statements and em dashes?) (And exclamation points!)) But I wouldn’t call what I do “organic” gardening—there are all kinds of synthetic materials in the alfalfa pellets and in the cows that poop out the “natural” fertilizer.

(And really, now that I think about it, basically everything following the second time I used the word lettuce is a parenthetical statement.) (!)

Anyway, I’m giddy with spring, and anything that slightly relates to gardening is fair column fodder. Anybody else going to have produce in the Nevada State Fair this year?