Trina Machacek: Putting my yard to bed

The only time I feel the tug of wanting to grow vegetables is in the fall. When my gardening friends are putting things in jars and freezers. Tomatoes are the biggest thing. Tomatoes become red, mouthwatering sauces and soups. Salsas of varying degree of hot and spicy.

Oh, I too once did the tomato thing. Not all that successful I will admit. I did have some nice specimens to do the fried green tomato thing. Mouthwatering to this day. And cut a few red-eyed winkers along the way to cover crispy bacon on toast with mayo and lettuce. Pardon me while I wipe my chin.

My other half had a grandmother who taught me that if a freeze was coming to grab the last of the ripe and not so ripe tomatoes off the vine. Never having knowledge, time or really desire to learn canning she taught me to just throw them in the freezer. I loved that. Red ones went into the freezer right off the vine. Green ones in a shallow box on the cupboard covered with newspaper where they ripened. With a layer of red goodies in the freezer, during the winters I could grab the frozen orbs, run warm water over them and the skins would fall off. Then I had frozen tomatoes to throw in stews and soups. A lot less work than cleaning and canning I must say.

But! Yes, a round cherry tomato “but.” More than once I would find frozen tomatoes hiding in the freezer. After a few years they become white with freezer burn and harder than obsidian rocks. Oh, I remember a few times tomatoes falling out of the freezer just to crack a misplaced toe. So now I buy what I need as I need it and save room in my freezer for important stuff. Frozen pizza, pot pies and pink cookies!

Now though, my yard is grass and flowers and my refrigerator veggie drawers are filled by produce from all over the world. Yes, those drawers sadly still sometimes hold mushy too old lettuce and an apple or orange that lived past their prime. To my credit, the birds and occasionally a few sheep love the treats that are thrown across the fence. Waste not want not.

Fall brings about the time of the year to put our yards to bed for winter. Treating them to one last big drink of water and a full meal of fertilizer to give everything a jump start in a far-off springtime. Which puts me dab smack in the middle of the fertilizer section of the home and garden center picking grass food. Yes, grass food. I learned from watching my lawn that the best food for my green, green grass of home comes from rain. Yes, rain. Luckily the days of acid rain are all but gone and I live where rain is good old rain. Full of nitrogen. Don’t know how I know that I just do. Running a hardware store for more than a few years taught me so many things. This one though, this grass food I know all too well.

Other than the occasional leftovers leftover from a wayward cow or bull that sometimes finds their way onto my lawn, summer rain showers feed my grass pure nitrogen. So, putting sacks of pure nitrogen in a shopping cart brings me happy. Oh, there are plenty of choices for sure. Time released stuff and mixes that are best for where I live. But my pocket book rules my world today like it has all my “squeak when I walk” life. So, the best and least expensive is where I usually go. Now I was going to say cheapest but least expensive sounds more grown up. Come on Trina. Cheapest is in my wheelhouse. I bought the cheapest. Nitrogen is nitrogen. Kinda like generic aspirin at two bucks is the same as aspirin at eight bucks. Well, you get the idea.

As I spread that wonderful grass food, I grab handfuls throwing it up into my flower beds. Everything gets a last supper. Well, that sounds kinda funny. My flowers have been cut off or pulled up for winter. The fertilizer will soon be melted by the coming fall and winter weather. Snow. Yes snow. Water that is even harder than the water from my well. Snow that also carries more nitrogen. I just figured something out. I feed the grass nitrogen to grow with vim and vigor. Green and lush. see my problem I feed that same fertilizer in my flower beds? That must be why that dang grass grows so happily in my flower beds. Live and learn. Good night to yards everywhere.

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her books are available online wherever you buy books or email her at [email protected] to buy a signed copy.

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