In some ways this is really Part One, because although Bill’s set of instructions for building your own wood burning oven is thorough enough, the inspirational ovens of his childhood got only fleeting mention when he wrote it.
Now, thanks to the comments section, the story has its start. A simple query (from a fellow Lithuanian) has summoned those missing memories: of the outdoor brick ovens built by the southern Italians on Bill’s mother’s side, and of his apprenticeship with Willie Orban, his Lithuanian Godfather, who ran “the largest and the best bakery in town.”
This picture (taken at Adams, in Poughkeepsie, NY) is actually a bit of a cheat - I buy almost all of my seeds online, from too many favorite suppliers.* But it does say "time to think about starting seeds” in an unmistakable way.
This year’s gigantic assortment of seeds has finally arrived, bringing with it the usual gigantic dose of buyer’s remorse. I had firmly decided against bulbing onions, for instance, having concluded that purchased plants – also available mail order, in convenient bunches of 50 to 75 – do much better than the plants I start myself.
Yet somehow, mysteriously, here is a packet of heirloom Australian Brown storage onion seeds, roughly 700 incipient plants. Here also are 8 kinds of peas, most of them the kinds that require poles. We cut way back last year and they were sorely missed, but this does not explain where the hell I’m going to put them all. As usual, too many tomatoes, but on the other hand I’m not going to start any eggplants.
Eric’s young ‘Rainbow’ leucothoe, currently about 18 inches high with a spread of two-and-a-half feet, but already showing the graceful lines and drooping branches that add architectural interest to the shade garden.
Our friend Eric has what sometimes seems like an undue fondness for woody evergreens. But as he mildly points out from time to time, he likes to write about the plants he’s experimenting with as manager of Yale’s Marsh Gardens, and that means a lot of emphasis on plants of special value to Northeasterners. Even though New Haven is quite a bit warmer than our part of the Hudson Valley – or Maine – there’s still a lot of winter to contend with.