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Spring means taking chances on garden vegetables

Ruby McFarland
For the Appeal

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is.

The birds are on the wing, now ain’t that absurd, I thought the wings was on the bird.”

-Unknown

Hide the garden seed. I always get the itch to plant a garden around this time of year, even if there is a foot of snow on the ground. It’s a primitive instinct and a lot of us have the problem.

I think it’s because our long cold winters make us yearn to have our hands in the dirt up to our elbows. In this little part of the world, you’re perfectly safe if you plant a garden in June.

In Emma Nevada Loftus’ diaries she and the folks in Dayton had the same problem. There were a few brave souls who had cold frames in their back yard to put in a few lettuce, chard and radish seeds. They also started their tomato and pepper plants and would put them out the first warm day in April, only to replant in May and then again in June.

Then, if the cows that roamed freely around Dayton didn’t break down your fences to eat your hard won garden, you were home free. With a little patience and TLC, a person could really grow a great garden.

In early spring, Helen Barton and Emma would go over the river to the Ricci ranch to get asparagus to eat and to can for winter. There was a lot of asparagus then, but Grace Ricci tells that although it’s still there, it’s hard to find anymore.

Around Dayton you will still find gnarly old apple and apricot trees planted by those folks who loved to garden. Some were planted by Victoria Pradere’s father, Victor Della Santa. Mr. Della Santa had a grocery store on River Street and he raised a great deal of the vegetables and fruits he sold in his store.

So if you have the desire to garden just now, I suggest you hold off for a month or two, except for the things that are not that tender to frost. Anyway, spring is here to all who care.

The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. The web site is daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-8382 or 246-0441.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.