Something I learned today

Something I learned today-
I stay cooler when I work in the garden if I wear a cowboy hat, shorts and an oversized white dress shirt (unbuttoned as much as decency will allow in front and completely unbuttoned at the wrists). I discovered that working while dressed this way I am cooler than I am with NO shirt on, and I have the added bonus of not getting sunburned.

You will notice that if you do a Google Image Search for “Campesino” (which is the Spanish word for “farmer” or “farm laborer”) you will notice that all of the guys are dressed like this.

File this under “Something I should have noticed ten years ago.”

I worked out in the sun today for about three solid hours. No, wait, it was four. The first hour I wasn’t wearing a shirt, and I thought, “I can’t do this all day. I need to find some sunscreen.” Since I am painting the house this summer, I have run through every drop of sunscreen in the house.

So, I thought, “Well, I could try dressing like a I see those guys from Latin America dress when they work in the sun all day.”

Let me tell you, it’s the way to go. That shirt gets pretty soaked through in the first 30 minutes, and the rest of the time, it cooled my skin nicely. I actually came in for some water at one point and thought, “Damn, it’s freezing in here,” and went right back outside.

So, what was I doing out there? (If you’re not a garden geek, stop reading NOW.)

It’s been too hot lately for the snow peas, so I pulled those up out of the ground and set the vines and pods aside to dry so that we can save the seeds for next year. They were sure good while they lasted, by the way.

I then used the large, heavy hoe to scrape off all of the grass that had grown up in the pea patch. I dumped that in a bare spot under one of our oak trees, in the hope that it will root there and cover the bare spot.

After getting the 6′ x 10′ pea patch down to raw dirt and pulling up all of the stakes, I tilled the soil to break it up some, then laid a few bricks down to make a walkway around the tilled spot. The missus will probably plant something in the gap tomorrow. Lima beans? Maybe?

I brought in (ANOTHER) ten pounds of cucumbers. We have to make pickles post-haste. This is fucking silly. There are three shelves of cucumbers in the fridge. Athenians, SPEAK NOW for free cukes. We’re giving them away.

I also brought in another half gallon of string beans and a half dozen ripe tomatoes. There is a tidal wave of tomatoes coming. We need to dust off the canning pot and jars. We’re going to be putting up enough tomatoes for salsa and spaghetti well into 2007.

My cabbages have been getting murdered by some kind of small gray worm. I sprayed them down good today with capsicum wax. I will hit them again in a couple of days and see if I can’t kill the little fuckers.

The only other pest I have been wrestling with has been japanese beetles. I have traps out, but they got full and suddenly the beetles were defoliating my grape vines and my green bean vines. A visiting friend did the nasty job of dumping the beetle trap into a steel pot and mashing the beetles into a paste. We mixed it with water and sprayed it onto all of the grapevines and bean plants. (That is one NASTY smell.)

The word is that covering your plants in beetle guts discourages beetles from hanging around there and eating your plants. It makes perfect sense to me. If I was eating in a cafe and looked over in the corner, and there sat a pile of human body parts, I think I might go ahead and ask for my check and never go back there.

We’ll see if it works.

I also wetted down the collard greens with the hot pepper wax. I think that the same thing that is eating the cabbages is getting after those. I am not so worried about collards this time of year, though. They are better in the fall, anyway. I just want to see if I can preserve their root systems so that once it gets too cold for whatever pest has been eating holes in the leaves I will have healthy, good-sized plants.

It’s too hot these days to spent two hours cooking a pot of greens anyway.

We could sure use a good soaking rain, too. Don’t get me started on the rain.


  1. What’s a “white dress shirt”? I didn’t know dresses came with shirts, and I’ve been married too long to wear white anyway.

  2. The dress the campesino wears is not that different from the dress the kuli (or “coolie”) wore and still wears in the rice fields. I think it’s a universal design people who work in the fields gravitate towards.

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