Planting a Garden

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

My great grandparents were farmers, much like their parents and their parents before them. We would visit on weekends and my great grandfather, Papaw, would take me to see the pigs and cows, carrying me over the cow patties so I never ruined my shoes. He had a large vegetable garden across the road from their house, where he would plow the garden with horse and plow before using a tractor in his later years. This garden spanned acres and brought all the food they would eat throughout the year. My great grandmother, Mamaw, would can beans and tomatoes and they kept the canned goods in the dairy along with potatoes and onions to stay cool and dry. Milk came from their cows. Meat from the livestock which also included chickens. It was literally farm to table before it was chic to dine this way in restaurants.

Because I come from a long line of farmers, I've decided I must be one at heart. Or at least a gardener. So in the spring of 2013, I decided we needed raised beds in our backyard. We had an area with the ugliest ground cover I've ever seen so we ripped it out! We purchased two cedar beds, after much digging, leveling, and building up the area with cinder blocks, and began planting. That first year we grew lettuce and tomatoes because nothing else really grew. It was an experiment, after all, so I wasn't really sure what would come up. Over the years, we've continued to grow lettuce and tomatoes, but we've added cucumbers. But the raised bed weren't enough. Big enough, really, so I took over a small patch of yard off of our patio and started a larger garden. That year we grew corn and green beans. Two years ago we grew one pumpkin! I was in heaven. 

 Last year the rains came and it flooded out most of the things I planted. Joel joked that we needed crop insurance. I was sad. This year, we decided to add a border around the larger garden to keep the water from rushing in. We added cedar posts two high around the perimeter of the garden and actually increased the size a bit. This year, we've got carrots, radishes, green beans, cauliflower, corn, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and lettuce! We still have the raised beds and are currently growing several different salad lettuces and two rows of cucumbers. And, I added pumpkins seeds along a portion of the back patio that doesn't grow grass, and we have four orange pumpkins and two blue currently working their magic. I'm keeping my finger crossed that all of this becomes bountiful! Not to sustain us for the year, but to give us some fresh veggies to munch on during the summer.

One of the main reason I started a garden was to teach McKinley the importance of taking care of Mother Earth. I want him to know that what we put into the ground can grow into the things we eat, so we have to take good care of the surface of the earth in order for things to continue to grow. And, I was hoping it would help him eat the things he doesn't currently like because he grew it and harvested it. It hasn't worked yet. And I like know that there are zero chemicals in a few of the things we eat during the summer. Freshness at it's best! 

 have to say, even tending to a backyard garden isn't easy. There is work that has to be done. Weeding is the most important and a constant! I water every day, especially in the heat of the summer. I have to try and keep the critters from eating my crops so I'm always adding mesh "fencing" around the ones they love the most. And even this morning, I've been out digging up mounds of dirt to add to the base of the corn stalks to keep them from leaning and breaking against their own weight. Clearly it's not the work of your average farmer, I realize that, but I love doing it. And I love watching McKinley help me pick the tomatoes off the vine and the beans off the stem all summer long!

If you're following along with the Summer Bucket list, you know that I suggested growing a garden. It can be on any scale. Just get out there and plant! Do I have the farming gene? Probably not. Is it that I have a green thumb? Possibly. Is it just sheer luck? More than likely. Whatever it is, it's tons of fun to do!


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