Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Love of Gardening

It started when I was just a child....Mom grew a little garden under the kitchen of our ranch style house.  What did she plant that I remember? Carrots and snapdragons.  I'm sure there was more, but that's what I remember.  I can still see her fingers moving the dirt from around the carrot for us to see if it was big enough to harvest.  And could there ever be more excitement when you squeeze the sides of the snapdragon blossoms and see them open up?

(My pitiful attempt at carrots this year)

Mom always liked to garden and to this day still has prettier flowers than I do.

In 1998 our children were getting older and we had no place to grow a garden.  I wanted them to have the experience of planting something and harvesting the goodness of the earth. We had a very small yard with a tree right in the middle. We planted some border flowers, but I really wanted to grow vegetables...and a lot of them.

Ben's godparents, Bill and Dorothy own a farm. 
 A big farm with cattle, goats, corn fields, and big tractors...

They knew what they were doing and if willing to do it ,could teach us everything we needed to know.  I asked them early in the spring if they would let us help them garden so we could learn how to do it.
They said "Sure."
We didn't really think about it again until one Sunday after church, Dorothy said, "The potato patch is getting pretty weedy if you still want to help."

(It would be better to have a picture of the potato patch, but I can't find one and will have to keep searching. 
This is a grape vine that I was getting ready to cut early this summer when I saw this!)

"YES!"  We were on it.  I think John was away at drill that day.  Dorothy had a great time entertaining the children and somehow I ended up all by myself in the potato field.  It didn't take me long to figure out that it was more than "a little weedy"! That day I learned what a potato plant looked like and what a weed that looked almost exactly like it was. 
Some potato plants didn't make it.

Later, Dorothy told me she knew I was serious about helping when I didn't give up.  The reward in the fall was pure excitement!  I love digging potatoes!

(This is my all time favorite picture of Ben.  Dorothy was the photographer)

We spent hours planting and harvesting green beans, peppers, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes.  It was hard work. For four years after everyone got home from school and work, we would drive fifteen minutes down a curvy road to the farm.  We'd work until dark, load our dirty bodies and buckets of produce into the car and head home.  The next day would be nonstop preserving. 

We share-cropped (free labor for produce!) with Bill and Dorothy until we moved to our current house where the yard was big enough for me to plant on my own.  They helped me learn so much. I am so thankful for their willingness to share their knowledge with us.

Gardening is something special that we did with our children.  I am so glad that we did. A lot of nights it would have been so much easier  to say, "Let's just stay home."

(Don't you love the ear muffs?  Ben never liked loud noises when he was small. This was an experiment to see if we could plant the sweet potato field using the corn planter.  It didn't really work very well, but it sure made a cute picture!)

I've planted a garden almost every year in this house. Some years the gardens were great and others...not so good.  We've also shifted over to all organic and I'm still learning about how to do this on my own.  But that's a whole different post....and will have to be part two.

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