Columns » Bob Lancaster

Assmunch georgics

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Hey, Assmunch, have you started your garden yet? What are you planting this year? Tell the truth about it this year instead of your usual lame attempt at anti-agricultural humor, OK?

Does anybody else get insulting mail like this? I mean, all the time?

All right, since nothing else is happening, at least on this side of the water, or here in the Natural State, I’ll give you a frank and humorless accounting of my ’06 georgics, such as they are.

I got the plowing done when it warmed up last weekend after the cold snap. Had to borrow my neighbor’s mule, named Blossom, after Karl Rove. Those old traces will rub you raw if you’re not used to them, and plowing is hard work that will leave you mighty sore. Every time I do it I gain a new appreciation for the yeoman farmer and his hard lot. At least it was hard back before the air-conditioned tractor and farm subsidies.

Blossom was her hateful old self, too. She seems to consider plowing demeaning, and doubly demeaning when she’s asked to do it for me. But I’m not complaining. I love to get out there and turn earth, smelling its richness, and thinking how men have shared this ground-breaking experience for thousands of years.

George Washington used to plow, and James K. Polk, and the Mesopotamians where it all started, and Sherlock Holmes said it helped him focus. Freud thought up the ego and the id while plowing, and Einstein was plowing along peacefully when the theory of relativity leapt up at him from a turnrow. Might near everybody plowed in the olden times except the hunters and shepherds and seamen, and about the only criticism I’ve ever heard of the Lord is that he just refused to do it, preferring to just wander around and trust that somebody else would supply the grub.

I thought I’d put in a long row of pepperoni this year. No use paying such a high price for it at the pizza place, and them slicing it so thin even then that you can’t even hardly taste it. I don’t see any pepperoni seed in the catalogue, and my neighbor, Blossom’s owner, says he’s never heard of anybody around here growing pepperoni, and he thinks that’s probably because it’s Italian and I need to get me a catalogue from over there, one with pomegranates, olive trees, and about 500 varieties of garlic in it. But I don’t know the language and wouldn’t know how to order the seed unless the catalogue had a picture that I could draw a circle around, and even then I wouldn’t know how much money to send, not understanding liras and euros and all that.

This same neighbor, who doesn’t lack for opinions or for a willingness to give advice, says it would derelict and unneighborly of me if I didn’t put in at least a short row of goat’s-rue. I was embarrassed to admit I’d never even heard of goat’s-rue, but he says you can’t beat it for keeping the goats out of your beans and corn and okry and tomatoes. I didn’t remember ever having had any problems with truck-ruining goats — raccoons, magpies, drunks on their way home from the bootlegger’s, and sasquatches are another story, of course — and he said he hadn’t ever had any either, but that was just proof of how effective his own crop of goat’s-rue was. That sounded to me more like old almanac superstitious nonsense than it did modern scientific agriculture, but I’m just reporting the facts, and the man does loan me Blossom when my tiller throws a rod so I guess I’ll put in a few sprigs of the stuff just to humor him. Sometimes you just have to accept your neighbors’ eccentricities, and hope they’ll tolerate yours.

Another neighbor dropped by and complimented me on my plowing (“Them’s the straightest rows you’ve ever done”), and I asked him what crops he thought would liven and pretty up the place and he recommended something called gazebo. I thought that might be a kind of antelope, but my other neighbor there said no, it’s a kind of bean.

“I think that’s the correct name of them Mexican jumping beans,” he said. I told him I wasn’t taking on another variety of beans no matter how attractive they were or how high they could jump. I was already committed to three — Kentucky Wonders, Great Speckled Butterbeans, and of course the usual pork’n’s.

The gazebo-bean neighbor also recommended planting some of this Indian corn with all the different-colored colonels ( I guess like Klenk and Potter and Sanders), but I don’t think I’ll do that either. In my experience, that kind of corn makes a swell schoolchildren’s Thanksgiving display, especially with a pumpkin and some gourds, but I’d just about rather go hungry than try to eat any of it You can close your eyes and not be able to tell whether you’re eating the corn or the cob.

I’ve just started but have run out of room here in the Farm Report No. 1 of 2006 but if our paths happen to cross sometime soon be sure and ask me about the pineapples.










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