Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tiemann Chapter 15/Annual Plant Sale

Following Chapter 15 is information about the Cavendish Historical Society’s annual plant sale.  To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

The weather changed (they say in Vermont, "If you don't like it, just wait ten minutes.") May was on the dry side so the roads could be work­ed on by the town crew, which used a scraper to fill in and level the ruts. The worst spots were spread with whet they termed "gravel" but looked like sand to us. In any event it helped the drying process and soon mud season was a memory.

The children went back to school and one afternoon came in with clumps of lovely arbutus ("May flower"), the first they had ever seen. It grew beside our own roadside, and later we discovered other small patches, some of which still exist. Next we noticed yellow and white violets (the blue ones came later) and the roadsides and woods soon were gay with a variety of tiny blossoms. These were followed by the flowering bushes and small trees, when the shed and wild cherry blos­soms were like white smoke against the hillsides, and their fragrance filled the air,

As a break for Isabel after the long winter, I took her to a Ladies' Meeting,- this was the Home Demonstration Club, a state-wide rural org­anization with professional leaders who introduced new ideas and im­proved methods to local groups, who held monthly meetings at each others homes. - Then I went home and began "picking stone," a never‑ ending chore on our Vermont land where it has been recently plowed. It was good to be able to get into the fields again. Now I was up before five; did chores, had breakfast at 6:45, and was at the day's work by eight. During the month of May the major planting must be done, else it is too late for crops to mature. I had great plans some of which materialized. First of all came the plowing but when I tried my hand at it I found it harder than it looked and made poor progress. So I was fortunate to have enough hay-land to exchange for getting a good-sized piece of hay land turned over. The harrowing (to break up the sods and leave the bed relatively smooth) I could do myself, using first a double set of discs, and then a spring-tooth cultivator set at its widest adjustment. The equipment I speak of had been included in the bargain when I dickered for the place, and with a little ingenuity would take care of basic needs.

By the 15th I was ready to sow oats, and did an acre,- Isabel helping. We tried broadcasting seed by hand but results were uneven.- When I was pleased to discover hanging in the barn a contraption which did the job much more efficiently: this was a bag-like affair with a whirligig below. The canvas bag hung against the chest by a strap around the neck and held a quantity of seed. There was an adjustable aperture in the bottom and when you walked along a row turning a crank the whirligig distributed the seed in  fixed pattern and quantity. So we used this to finish the oats, and then for an additional half-acre of barley.

I had to contrive a "smoother"' to cover' the seed enough to protect it from the birds, which arrived in flocks.' The first one I made by boring holes in a .2x4 and thrusting the' ends of brushy branches into the holes, and then dragging it behind Dan. This proved to be too light to be effective so I discarded the branches and made a frame with boards across it to be weighted with stones; this worked better. Having read that soy beans make good hay I put in over an acre, but as these would not work in the planter they had to be sowed by hand. The final field planting comprised two 3/4 acre pieces in corn. The seed had to be properly spaced and covered, so I used a hoe to do part of it and then tried a hand-planter for the remainder. This modest gadget worked like a bellows: you walked along a row and at each pace punched the end of the planter into the ground and worked the handles, which both placed a cluster of kernels at the right depth and released a similar number from the magazine (just a can on one of the handles, with in adjustable feed.) This worked fine for hills, but for rows a hoe was better.

This planting all was done in the south mowing, below and abreast of a little group of fruit trees someone had set out, apparently as the beginning of an orchard which got no further.- A number of apple trees lived, to grow and give good fruit in later years, but it was an  inconvenient spot; they were in the way when mowing, and distant from the house, and I didn't much regret it when most of them died.(from the activities of borers in the summer, and mice eating the bark in winter.)

Along with the dry weather there was a hot spell, not unusual for the end of May but this was a couple of weeks early. It was fine for help­ing things grow. Also it apparently dried out the ground behind the house where we wanted the kitchen garden. This proved deceptive. It was a naturally moist piece, made more so by the kitchen drain. When a man came to plow, the earth proved soggy and he had a difficult time and was so obviously skeptical, in a very polite way, that I should have been warned. The harrowing also went badly, the soil sticking to the, discs. This was far from the fine, soft loam required to start tiny seeds. Planting turned out to be a messy job with no pleasure in it. About this garden I can only add that we had poor results after a great deal of unnecessarily hard. work. But I did learn something and the next year had the garden in a better place.

The baby chicks came, and we all got quite a kick out of the funny little balls of yellow fluff., I built a pen where they could be warm and safe,. yes, in the summer kitchen, where we had again moved. There they grew and throve and were very much in the way.

Then, to the delight of the kids, the long summer vacation began.

Annual Plant Sale: As Tiemann found, May is planting season in Vermont. The Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) has been transplanting and potting many different types of plants since the middle of May for the annual plant sale started by Craig Rankin, a landscape architect. Craig believed everyone in Cavendish (and beyond) deserved to have an affordable hosta. We are continuing the tradition, and this year the plant sale will be on June 27 (Saturday) on the Museum grounds from 9-2. We have lots of different native plants, including hosta, bearded Iris of different colors, Siberian Iris, day lilies, plus a number of other plants and shrubs. Hope to see you there.

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