A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northern Kentucky’s Spanky Caudill keeps optimism, excitement alive in his barbershops and in life

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward Spanky Caudill is a 20th Century man. MID 20th Century man. Spanky Caudill at work on a classic gentleman’s haircut.Spanky (Sean, actually) came by his nick-name from a school gym teacher who said he reminded her of Spanky — the precocious character played by George “Spanky” McFarland in the Our Gang movies (later syndicated for TV as The Little Rascals). Who...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Hate rain, love rain, don’t/do need rain — gardening is a collision of emotions

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with water. It just seems to be everywhere.  I turn on a faucet and it comes out. It always does. Sometimes it announces itself even when not summoned. Drip. Drip. Drip. This was in June after just a couple of days. Almost three inches. (Photos provided) But then, on occasion, when I’ve turned on the...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Gardening — blunders, hard work, setbacks, rewards, joy, accomplishment

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward It seems that, in life, pursuits that are rewarding and give the greatest satisfaction are those things that are a challenge. Hard work and setbacks are the norm. Everything I’ve ever done that has given me a sense of accomplishment has ALWAYS required some level of aggravating diligence, and usually on some protracted timeline that has, in some cases, caused...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Excitement building as a new gardening season looms. Look! Seeds are starting

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward Here we go again! It’s the beginning of another year of gardening, and I am excited!  I am so excited, one would think that I was at the beginning of an electrifying world tour that promises adventure with exotic, wild people; glorious food served in ten-course meals (French, naturally); buckets of champagne, fine wines and bourbon (I do live in Kentucky);...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Lightning and lightning bug aside, we get down to basics — there is the tomato

By Ginger Dawson Special to NKyTribune As you may remember when we met here before, I had received my annual embarrassment of seed catalogues. And, instead of getting down to business and making considered choices of what plants I would be stewarding to their glorious rewards, I got mired down in the silly side-track of eccentric, amusing and just plain weird plant names. There is enough to consider...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Cat lover-gardener requires tough love; (so far) Henry Clay can’t do zippers

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward I have always been a cat lover. From the first time that someone dumped off a load of sore-eyed kittens in front of our house when I was about three years old, I have been smitten. The minute I laid eyes on one of those little critters I knew that they were for me. The cute little stinker! Who could resist? (Photos provided) Naturally, I picked them up—all...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Zucchini wars have begun (hang the vine borer) and a new chapter opened

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward As many of you may know, I have spent much time, sweat and emotional anguish over the simple desire to have a successful, long-lived zucchini crop.   My fellow gardeners — is it too much to ask for? Over the years I have tried many, many techniques that have come highly recommended as tactics to fend off that hated foe of zucchini everywhere — the...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: A few wise words to gardeners everywhere — get a tetanus shot

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward I am a lifelong reader. I’ll read just about anything that even remotely sparks my curiosity.  Biographies, history, gardening books, Mark Twain, trashy rock and roll memoirs….you name it. I love them all. They are a window into lives and situations that edify and shape my intellect and world view. The best books start me on a journey that that might...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Big event, Garden 2018 — for tomatoes, it’s Burpee Steakhouse vs Big Zac

By Ginger Dawson Special to NKyTribune It’s that time of year when the big event, Garden 2018, is in its nascent stages.   The seed has been ordered and received.  As usual, I ordered an ungodly amount.   In order to make sense of all of this, I made a master list of my selections.  Tomatoes, of course, are first.  I have different categories that I like to raise to fulfill my different uses: ...

Urban Farmer: Carrots, a true gardening challenge — now, what to do with a good crop?

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward   Carrots.  I have finally figured out carrots.  As it always seems to be with beginner’s luck, many years ago, I somehow raised a very nice little batch of carrots.  I thought to myself, “Well, this is easy, I’ll just do this again”.  Ha. The second year was miserable — nasty little things, all bent and puny.  Awful.  So after that, I sidestepped...

Urban Farmer: Twenty years on the gardening roller coaster and finally figuring out the beans

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward This is something I know beans about.  Beans.  All kinds of beans. Over the past twenty, or so, years I have always raised beans: pole beans, bush beans, green beans, dried beans–you name it. Early on, I always raised pole beans.  It seemed like the sensible way to manage the small amount of dirt that I had at my disposal at the time.  I could raise a...

Urban Farmer: When Satan comes to call on the garden, he’s got a name — Squash Vine Borer

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward Satan was in my backyard last week.  He took me by surprise.  He was much more intimidating than I had anticipated.  He was olive green and red with a row of black dots down his back– just like the pictures I had seen.  He had what must have been horns.  He swooped in with an undeniable malevolence. For years, I have been victimized by this paragon of...

Urban Farmer: Right at the beginning of the payoff, elated by the look of things (and the anticipation)

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward Here we are. Right at the beginning of the payoff. The garden has been in the ground for about six weeks. For the first time, in quite a few years, I am elated by the look of things in the back yard of the Italianate on Russell St. The plants are all doing well (except the Swiss Chard *sigh*). Even the bug population seems to be a little less enthusiastic...

Urban Farmer: Planting after Mother’s Day cuts down frost danger, but doesn’t lighten workload

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward Mother’s Day is that all-important marker of time for gardeners. I can pretty much always be confident that if I plant my garden the week following it, I won’t have any arctic surprises.  A cold temperature emergency has happened a couple of times in the past 25 years, but this is an anomaly. This year, Mother Nature must have felt very good about her day. The...

Urban Farmer: Project Asparagus after Year One — ups and downs to go with plenty of life lessons

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward It’s the end of year one of Project Asparagus.  About one year ago today, I was in the midst of nursing a whole slew of little asparagus plants that I had started from seed. I was invested in this project.  I monitored each little one and fretted over the runts. These unemotional, undemonstrative little beings were like children to me, but my concern and care...

Urban Farmer: Seed-starting process has begun in earnest — what a great time of the year!

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward It’s a beautiful day!  Finally.  The ground is warming up, the peas, radishes and lettuces I planted are coming along nicely, and the seed-starting has begun!  I love this time of the year. Early on, seed starting was something that I had always thought more experienced gardeners did.  There was so much to learn about gardening and it did take a lot of work....

Urban Farmer: With big swings in temps, who knows when to start . . . a gardener’s conundrum

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward This winter sure is weird.  This was supposed to be my first year to have time to really get an early crop garden started.  I was ready for it.  I had mesclun (a lettuce mix), two types of radishes, two types of spinach and peas all ready and waiting to go. But when to start?  In the past, this was a fairly easy thing to decide.  I didn’t really have time...

Urban Farmer: Throwing caution to the wind — and digging up the ‘dirt’ on what’s really in the soil

By Ginger Dawson KyForward columnist Mother nature is playing tricks on us. It’s the end of February and it’s sixty degrees outside! This is a cruel carrot to dangle. I want to go outside and start doing things. But, I’m afraid it will be a premature effort that will result in a waste of seed and time. I think I’ll throw caution to the wind and tempt fate anyway. I’m going to try to start...

Urban Farmer: Deluged by catalogues — it’s an avalanche — and now for the sorting and planning

By Ginger Dawson KyForward columnist Twenty-nine catalogues!!  Unbelievable. I started receiving this bale of paper, in fits and starts, beginning right before Christmas.  They trickled in and then became a deluge around the first week of January. As the catalogues came in, I just tossed them all into a pile.  The stack got so unwieldy, I was somewhat loath to tackle it….but tackle it I did. A...

Urban Farmer: Recharging, gardening is sure-shot therapy; right now, it’s sit back and wait

By Ginger Dawson KyForward columnist A new year ahead.  New possibilities and new directions, not just in gardening, but in life, as well.  Gardening, as always, is my haven.  It’s my place to go to recharge, be curious, learn, work hard physically, and several times over the course of my life, burrow in and lick my wounds.  Last year, 2016, was a particularly busy gardening year.  All kinds...