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Handy Little Red

Posted April 17, 2013 in Community Featured, Winterset
Jim Nelson’s pickup truck, “Little Red,” is a handy helper in his gardening.

Jim Nelson’s pickup truck, “Little Red,” is a handy helper in his gardening.

Jim Nelson is a master gardener who relies on the tools of his trade — rakes, hoes, spades, shovels and one of the most important, “Little Red.”

Every gardener needs a pickup, Nelson says. His just so happens to have a nickname.

Nelson’s trusty 1988 Ford Ranger hauls leaves, tree limbs, mulch and compost. It also has nongardening duties, including carrying people’s stuff when they need to move.

And anyone who needs a truck is pretty much welcome to borrow his.

“The keys are always in it,” Nelson says.

He bought Little Red about four years ago when the engine on “Big Blue,” a 1978 Ford F-150, blew up. So when a red Ford Ranger showed up at a used car dealership, the salesman knew just who to take it to.

“He knew where I was, so he takes the pickup out there and says, ‘I got just what you need,’ ” says Nelson, who was at an auction. “So the pickup truck found me. It’s perfect. It’s just the right size for a garden truck.”

As for its moniker: Nelson naming a vehicle probably isn’t much of a surprise, given that he comes from a family that likes to give nicknames to people and things.

“It’s better than saying, ‘My red pickup,’ ” he explains. “When I say Little Red, everybody knows what it is.”

As the weather gets warmer, Nelson spends more time in Little Red, running errands for his own garden or other projects around town. He grows a plethora of vegetables and fruits, from cucumbers and green beans to watermelons and apples.

In addition, he helps others with their gardens and has projects he does on his own, as well as with other master gardeners. Nelson has his own area on the town square that he maintains, filling it with perennials and annuals and also plants flowers in front of the John Wayne Birthplace.

He and other master gardeners do work at the library and the fairgrounds.

Little Red has been a valuable gardening partner the last several years. And Nelson is planning to keep it around for the long haul.

“It’s been very reliable,” he says. “(I’ll have it) ’til it dies. It will probably be my last pickup.”

Contact Darren Tromblay at 953-4822 ext. 304 or to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of What’s In Your Garage?

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