Now is the time of year when I always get too ambitious in planning and planting my garden. I fill seedling starter tray cells with soil, drop in my seeds and water them in my unheated lean-to greenhouse from a rain barrel under the garage downspout. I'm always amazed how many tomato plants grow from a single packet of seeds. And, of course, you need a couple varieties. One for slicing and salads and another for Susan to make sauce. I plant them all, and, before long, I’m looking for anyone to adopt the plants leftover after I plant a couple dozen in my garden.
Last year, I was given some packets of asparagus and rhubarb seed and decided to try them. In the past, I’d bought crowns for both at the garden center and planted them but hadn't been careful in choosing a location so I later abandoned them.
The seeds sprouted quickly and were successfully transplanted. I dug two 12-foot-long trenches about 24 to 30 inches deep for the asparagus and gradually added soil as they continued to climb out of the trenches. This spring the trenches are mostly filled, and, once we got some desperately need rain, they punched out through the soil. I will let them go this summer, further establishing themselves underground, and begin harvesting next year.
I have a rule to not run obituaries or memorials in the magazine because I am unwilling to choose who merits inclusion and who doesn't. Also, I would rather highlight people while they are actively engaged in our community instead of remembering that they once were.
That said, I consider this column my personal space to write about whatever I want, regardless of my self-imposed rules. On April 30, 2021, Mike Traub of Mason, Ill., passed away. He was buried with military honors May 5 at the St. John's Lutheran Church cemetery in Louisville, Ill., where his flag-draped casket was transported by a team of horses.
I first met Mike five or six years ago at a plow day near St. Louis. I was impressed with his quiet and gentlemanly demeanor. His team of mules performed perfectly under his soft command. As you can see by the accompanying photo, they were constantly listening to their driver.
I was priveleged to feature him several times in this magazine, in an interview on our television program, and on the cover of our mule wall calendar. I think he was amused by the coverage but that was about all. He was the sort of man who eschews the spotlight, preferring to stay in the background, generously doing what needs doing and graciously helping those who ask.
He’ll be dearly missed.