I think gardeners must have taken up pick mattocks after the gold rush went bust. Probably ten cents on the dollar after the bust, some traveling snake oil vendor loaded up his caravan with them and sold them to unsuspecting homesteaders. I say that because the head of the thing is heavy duty forged steel weighing in at 2.5 to 3 pounds. Heave that up in the air a few times and you are going to feel it the next day.
Still, I’m not one to turn down garden goodies. A friend recently cleaned out her garage and the pick mattock was among the goodies transferred to me. The head was loose, sliding up and down the handle and she said to me, “Maybe your Dad can fix this.” I mentally grunted because I couldn’t imagine how he would fix it. Yet he did in less than a minute. To my horror, he slammed the handle on the floor of the concrete garage hard enough to send me vibrating across the floor like a cartoon character. He then handed it to me to marvel that the head was now securely fastened to the end of the wooden handle. Seeing my stupid look of wonderment, he explained that the handle was tapered and the pick mattock merely needed to be reseated. And that, gardening fans, is how you fix a pick mattock.
I handed it back to him to sharpen but that task is more involved and I found the thing this morning gathering dust in a corner of the garage. For now, that’s okay. I’m really not into the idea of that much exercise.
Make it your New Year’s Resolution to transform yourself from a brown thumb to a green thumb. Grow food in 2012! Here’s how to get started on the cheap:
Save a gallon milk jug, water jug or nursery pot.
Cut the milk jug in half and toss the spout end. Poke some holes in the bottom and bottom edges with an ice pick or drill.
Buy a small bag of good quality potting soil (with perlite or vermiculite to prevent soil compaction).
Buy a bundle of green bunching onions at the grocery store. Make sure they have a quarter inch of white roots (this is critical). Use the green tops in your salad but save the white onion bulb with roots.
Fill the milk jug mostly full with soil and plant your green onions bulbs. Do not plant too deep. Plant the bottom half of the white bulb just deep enough that the onion can stand on its own.
Water with a garden sprayer attached to your hose to get the soil evenly moist.
Set outside where the onions can get sun and rain.
Check on your onions daily. Sink your finger one-half inch into the soil and, if dry, water. You want to maintain a moist, but not soggy, water level.
Fertilize monthly with used tea bags. Remove the tea from the bag and sprinkle it on top of the soil.
In very short order, your grocery store onions will grow new green tops. Cut the tops off when you need them for salads or cooking but leave the root in the pot to grow new tops. You will have a continuous supply of fresh green tops for the rest of the year.
At the beginning of the second year, replace them with a new crop from the grocery store because your original crop will go to seed.