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Home Grown

May 2, 2009
Not ours but it could have been. Looks just like it.

Not ours but it could have been. Looks just like it.

Our first garden was a bit pathetic but not an altogether waste of time and effort. I had never gardened before and Rick had limited knowledge of it so I went up to Joe and Mary’s (our landlords) and asked for advice. They gave me a huge pile of  old Mother Earth News magazines and other gardening books to borrow. I stuffed them in my backpack and headed down to the house for some very in-depth studying. When I’m learning something new, I’m like a dog with a bone. I keep at it constantly–I want to do it all NOW!!

I read with a vengeance and drew a diagram of the garden showing where to plant what, and when, and the proper spacing of each plant or seed. It was very detailed, I was so proud of myself!

Rick borrowed a garden tiller from a friend and spent a whole weekend working on that. Arkansas mountain land is full of rocks so it was rough going. He tilled and I went along with a rake and spade and threw out rock after rock. I built up a lot of blisters and calluses on my palms and my knees but still actually enjoyed the work. It was a long, tedious, sweaty weekend! I must say we slept very well on those nights–exhausted!!

Rick bought a water pump and several lengths of water hose and connected it all to the pond. We had ample water for the garden due to the spring rains. But, in the dry months of July and August, we were out of luck. There was no alternative water source. We learned to only plant what would be ready for picking by late June. If we tried for long season plants, we were wasting our time and the money spent on seeds and seedlings.

Late spring and early summer we had lots of spring onions and whole yellow onions to cook with or eat raw with meals. Midsummer, we had very good yields of yellow squash and corn on the cob. We both loved fried squash and I’d never tasted fresh corn on the cob–oh my! Unbelievable sweetness! Yum!! We had a really good crop of green beans, okra, many tomatoes,  and sweet peas. Now, what do we do with all this food?

Rick bought a used upright freezer that worked great! It took 2 days for it to get to the right temperature before we could use it. We went crazy, at first buying ice cream and frozen cream pies–things we hadn’t had for over 4 months. We were wallowing in deliciousness!

Back to the magazines, I learned all I could about freezing and canning. Mary loaned me her canning equipment as she hadn’t used it in a long time. They had enough canned goods to last them many years due to previous years of avid gardening when they were younger and more able to work a plot.

I froze nearly all of the vegetables because we both preferred them that way and there was plenty of room in that big freezer. I canned the tomatoes for stewed tomatoes to go in soups and casseroles. The work filled the afternoons, especially on rainy days when I couldn’t tend the garden. I had to keep boiling water going to parboil the vegetables, then a tub of cold water to blanch them before bagging them up for the freezer. Canning was the same routine except for packing the tomatoes into canning jars then boiling them in the huge canning pot for the allotted time. Whether it was canning or freezing, both were very hot work but so worth it in the end!

Oh, Rick had his plants, too–the illegal kind. He planted them under the tall cornstalks so they would be hidden from view both on the ground and from above. Arkansas mountains were a favorite area for marijuana growers to plant their seeds and the government knew it! In late summer, there would helicopters flying overhead and hovering and dipping down and back up searching for ‘pot’ fields. It always made me so nervous when they flew overhead but, thank God, nothing ever came of it!

I really felt good about myself and all I had learned. Rick was very happy with the fruits of my labor 😉 and bragged to other family members how well I did. He was actually proud of me! Wow! Finally! He was happy, really happy and that made me feel on top of the world! Our relationship was growing right along with the garden.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2009 3:08 pm

    How very interesting and I’m so glad you had some happy times together!
    Hugs, Jonie

  2. May 3, 2009 8:47 pm

    I’m impressed, is there anything you can’t do?

    About thiry years ago, we had a garden, tomatoes, corn, lettuce, watermelons, etc and the only thing we got out of that garden was the dog.

    Nancy

  3. May 4, 2009 10:12 am

    Hahahaha!! Nancy, you are a hoot!!!
    Actually, we weren’t all that successful. We planted a lot more than what we actually yielded and was able to use. We got our dog out of the garden often–I haven’t posted about my pets yet. That is forthcoming.

  4. May 4, 2009 6:48 pm

    Hi Barbara…like you, when I am learning and involved in something new, I want to do it all NOW! Your adventures remind me of the days when I was a young mom, gardening, freezing food, and canning, just as my mother and grandmother had. I so enjoyed it, as you did.

    Karen

  5. pioneerjo permalink
    May 5, 2009 3:45 pm

    It will be interesting to see how well the garden will do for us this year. It depends on how much GM will be able to help haul water! I will also need to dig a root cellar out of the mountain if we don’t want thigs freezing!

  6. May 5, 2009 7:38 pm

    Karen, your experience seems similar to mine. Thanks for the comment.

    Jo, we thought about digging a root cellar but didn’t really need it because of having electricity.
    Yes, water is a huge factor when considering a garden.

  7. May 8, 2009 12:57 pm

    How wonderful for you to put such hard work into something and watch that garden bloom under your hands. I know the feeling …and it is wonderful! This really made me smile for you. :=)

    Even if things don’t turn out the way we want, even if you planted more than you yielded, you still have that pleasure of the dirt under your nails and the aches in your back to let you know you did everything possible to make that garden grow.

    And there are few things more delightful than eating a meal one has watched go from seed to table.

    Reading this really made me homesick for past times, better times … *sigh* (in a good way though … those times are gone, but thanks for bringing up some really good memories for me right along with yours)

  8. May 8, 2009 4:44 pm

    All Time Love, Yes! Eating those vegetables was indeed very savory! Not only because I grew them but what a difference there is in the taste of fresh home-grown produce!!
    I’m glad you still have good memories, too. 🙂

  9. Groundy permalink
    May 11, 2009 12:52 pm

    One of the good things that I learned was to garden. Jackassjerkmofo loved it. I learned to plant and take care of seedlings and growing veggies.

  10. May 17, 2009 5:27 pm

    Groundy, it is a great hobby! Unfortunately I live in an upstairs apartment now with no yard so I can’t do it here.

  11. Groundy permalink
    May 18, 2009 12:09 am

    I have found some container plants, peppers and tomatoes too!

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