Here we go!
When my son was 6, in 1996, he got a Super Mario game for his Nintendo 64. I never gripped a controller but I could sit watching him play for hours, mesmerized by the floating camera angles and hypnotic soundtrack.
Mario’s infectious, fake Italian accent lives on in my head. I hear it at the start of an adventure large or small: Here we go!
I heard it last weekend as I pulled the plug on the shop lights that have been humming 18 hours a day in the guest room since January and carried five flats of spinach, kale, chard and lettuce outside for transplanting.
Finally, after a long winter, I’ll be able to walk outside every morning with my coffee and see food, glorious food, growing alongside the cream-and-yellow violas, my early spring flower of choice.
Here we go!
Of all the reasons for moving to the country, a desire to live more closely connected to nature was foremost, and raising food is the most obvious outward sign of that. The sooner the earlier crops are in place, the longer that most rewarding part of the year seems.
I grow lettuce in wood pallets that I get free from a local company. This technique is the only useful thing I have ever seen on Pinterest, a site that usually leaves me cold, since I am not crafty or obsessively organized.
The pallets create instant raised beds if you have poor soil. More importantly the slats block weeds. Pallets come in all dimensions and designs; look for slats the width of your hand and gaps as narrow as possible.
Lay a pallet on a level spot, block the sides with bricks or wood to keep the soil from washing out, add soil, then space the transplants in the gaps 10 inches or so apart.
I have a group of four pallets ringed by straw bales for wind protection, but you don’t need that if wind isn’t a problem in your yard.
What you do need is sun protection. Choose a spot where the lettuce is shaded in the afternoon and your harvest will stretch further into the hot season. If you have no shade, you can find shade fabric at garden supply stores and online to drape over hoops.
If you didn’t start lettuces and greens indoors in January, you can still be a salad farmer — nurseries offer six-packs of all sorts of healthy greens. You can also plant seeds directly in wood pallets, but lay old screens on top to prevent hard rains from washing the seeds underneath the slats.
As soon as I plant my first batch of seedlings outside, I start another tray or two of seeds to serve as replacement plants after I harvest mature heads, which won’t be long.
Now that I’ve taken care of that, it’s time to plant the tomato seeds.
Here we go!