The Ladies Page

Counrty Echoes


| September/October 1968


The sun is shining this morning after many dark days. It sets the heart right again, somehow, and what seemed like an impossible taskwriting this columnwill probably turn to be a joy. We have had heavy rains and now things will really grow. My house-flies are holding their congregational meetings on the backs of my dining room chairs where the sun strikes their varnished surface, and I am in the fly slaughter business in between words.

But another thing that makes my heart glad is the nice clean garden I have this year. My steam-engine husband attended an auction this spring and acquired a steaming pan there. One day, late in May, the two of us moved it into our garden spot and went to work. After it was all over with I pondered the thought that it might have been less work to have hoed it all summer. But this was only a first reaction as I fell into bed that night.

But who was I to complain? My husband had spent a whole day watching Louie Trapp steam tobacco beds somewhere west of Columbus. It had been a day of needed relaxation to him and the benefits would be mostly mine so who was I to complain? Right? (A fly on my trembling typewriter. He fell dead in the carriage. Now one circling my head.) The fact of the matter was that we should have had a third person help us move the pan around after each thirty minute session, but Dan and the hired hand were busy too. So we struggled and pulled over about fourteen sets of the pan.

For those of you who don't know what a pan is I shall explain. It is an inverted shallow metal pan, heavy, and large. This one is attached to wheels and a clever method of lowering it to the ground is utilized. Then comes the work for the shoveler. 'Bank the edges, Lady,' were my instructions. And I will have you know that I shoveled every shovelful of soil that day. Alfred E. was busy with the pipes which carried the steam to the pan. Not only that but he was worrying about a flu that had a plug in it. So we labored parts of two days until we had covered practically every inch of that garden. But you should see it now. Not only did it take care of most of the weeds but it seemed to give the garden a head start.

In case you should find a steam pan, and enough energy, it must not be worked for a day or two after this operation as there is a lot of moisture pushed into the soil, and we had plenty of that this spring as it was. It seems to kill harmful organisms which may be hiding in your soil also. In southern Wisconsin it is used only on the seed beds for the tobacco plants. I dislike tobacco in any form except Black Leaf Forty for killing plant lice, so, no more comments on that.

But it seems Mr. Trapp, our instructor for this task, uses his engine every spring for this purpose and has opportunity to give it a good workout. We were glad to be able to do that also. You should have seen the expression on the faces of the people who passed by and saw steam rolling out from under a big pan at the end of each half hour period. By then my banked edges couldn't hold it.