MUSCODA - Is it too early to plant tomato seeds in the house now for replanting in an outside garden later? I am not a person who has much of an educated guess regarding that question. I have never been a big gardener although my dad’s garden covered about a half-square block. We had a Shetland pony that he would harness to help with the tilling, supplying the muscle to power a small garden walk-behind cultivator.
However, I can supply information regarding folks who were serious about their gardening. It’s about a man named Clay Kelly.
He and his wife lived in a small home at the junction of West Nebraska Street and North Iowa Street. Their property was eventually purchased to make room for a large grocery store to serve the community.
According to a story that I wrote for this newspaper, dated April 8, 1975, Clay already had tomato plants in his outside garden with each plant growing in its own small and personal hothouse.
Clay took black car inner-tubes and filled them with water and in the center he planted his tomatoes. The water in the black tubes soaked up the heat from the sun and retained it. That heat would then radiate into the surrounding soil.
And he also got heat from green horse manure that he buried under this tomato plants. To top it off, he put a piece of plastic over the top of the tube to add a greenhouse affect.
Does all that work? Clay was comfortable with predicting he and his wife would be eating red ripe tomatoes before the Fourth of July.
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly seemed to live a rather simple lifestyle. They heated their house with wood and every autumn they assembled a woodpile that was stacked in a manner to produce a “piece of art.” And they had a few chickens to produce eggs. A rooster would remind the neighborhood that a new day was dawning, something our kids didn’t appreciate, but Vi and I found to be a quaint reminder of our growing up days in Nebraska.
My Muscoda gardening experience is been limited. However, I do like to eat watermelon and soon after Vi and I arrived in the community I spaded up a small backyard plot and planted, among things, several hills of watermelons.
I watched those melon plants flower and grow and look as though they would produce what I wanted. But when harvest time came and I went to pick my first melon, I found that someone had “plugged” every melon in the patch and there were all rotten inside.That was the end of my Muscoda gardening career, except for a few radishes and lettuce.