The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 8, 2014

Bit early by the gardening bug

Late spring means anticipating the first strawberry dance


Years later, after I began on the staff of The Free Press and moved to St. Peter, I became part of another group of people who liked to plant stuff. We've united against gophers that tried to take over, and we’ve agonized together about squash-bug infestations that laid ruin to most of our butternuts and Hubbards.

The first growing season at the community garden, my partner, Chico, graciously offered to break ground in my new plot. We share a love of art and other interests, but gardening did not seem to be his thing.

About three years ago, he jumped in to the hobby, a rake in one hand and hoe in the other. Now, his summer days are spent closely monitoring the tomato and pepper seedlings he started indoors. The trenching technique he's developed keeps our weeding time down and lots of water moving to the roots of thirsty plants.

As for me, I continue in my roles as keeper of the perennial flowers and designated fruit picker.

This week, I'm on watch for the exact time to celebrate my favorite garden ritual. Little white flowers were abundant this year in a small patch on the edge of my plot. That's a signal it will soon be time to do The Dance of the First Ripe Strawberry.

Free Press summer essay series continues Every Sunday this summer, Free Press staff will be writing essays about what summer memories and traditions they and their families hold dear. Staff writer Edie Schmierbach continues the series today. Look for forthcoming essays right here in the Currents section.

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