Young or old can always agree that garden fresh is the best in the world
LINDA CRAUN, The Hennessey Clipper
Vegetable gardening is a lot of hard work that brings luscious bounty. Yet in recent years we've had all the work and little of the gain. We've planted less, worked harder, watered more and hardly produced.
It's disheartening to watch newly sprouted plants shrivel away under blowing sand and a blistering sun.
Today's gardens are a far cry from the ones Mom Craun and I used to raise. Those were gardens to brag about. Of course, I was younger then too.
Mom was head of our garden crew and I was the brawn. She said when to plant and what until the plowed ground was all used up. And sometimes hubby was coaxed into making one last turn around the field for that extra stand of corn, or row of green beans.
Nothing was wasted in our garden.
We snapped and shelled beans and peas and left corn on the cob for their stay in the freezer. We sliced okra thin and mixed it with corn meal so it was ready to go from the freezer into the skillet.
Fresh lettuce, radish, cucumbers and green onions joined forces in the salad bowls with green peppers and vine-ripened tomatoes. These were served with another summer favorite, home-grown fried chicken.
We dug new potatoes by the bucket and fried squash as it ripened. What we couldn't can, freeze, dry or store in the cellar was passed along to family and friends. We enjoyed the fresh garden produce as long as we could and put up everything else.
Over the years, Mom taught me to make pickles, can or freeze fruits and berries we picked ourselves, and we made all kinds of jellies, jams and butters. We put up black-eyed-peas (green and dried), froze and / canned bell peppers, tomatoes and beets.
We raised red potatoes, white potatoes, yellow potatoes and sweet potatoes. At seasons end, we dug up what was left, let them dry, then stored them in the cellar with the jars and jugs of other garden goodies.
Onions and garlic were hung from mesh bags along the walls.
Throughout the summer, there were apples, peaches and pears ripening in one spot or another in the spare bedroom. Tomatoes and sand plums covered the newspaper- protected floor.
The one thing she didn't have to teach me was how to appreciate ate the final product. A bountiful feast for the taste buds, grown by our own hands. Something that was once enjoyed by every farm family. Now whittled down to the few.
No more fresh fruits and vegetables, ripe from the vine, bush or tree. No more canned tomatoes in stew warming up the winter. No yummy jams and jellies shimmering in the dark of the cellar alongside the peas, beans and new potatoes. No plum, apple or apricot butter melting into home-made biscuits. No more garden fresh veggies pulled from the freezer.
It makes me sad to think of the generations of children growing up not knowing the joy of raising and eating what their own effort produced.
But not my grandkids. Derek, almost seven, and David, nearly four, are already garden wise.
Even if grandma and grandpa fall down on the job, they'll still have good stuff from the garden. Their dad is a green-thumbed back yard gardener and the boys take full advantage.
They know when tomatoes are ripe and what to do with them when they are. Both boys sample the fresh-grown veggies and herbs, nibbling on the chives as well as the crisp new peas from Daddy's garden.
And who knows, with that incentive, they may grow up to be gardeners too.
Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013
by Morgan Browne