Growing up, gardening was about feeding our immediate family of 7, along with extended family members and the countless friends and neighbors who came through the doors of our home.
We had a 3000 square foot vegetable garden that we tilled, planted, weeded, and harvested every year. What we didn’t eat immediately was preserved in the fruit cellar for us to use throughout the year. We all participated, and our garden-related chores aligned with our various ages. As the youngest, I did a lot of weeding and picking Japanese beetles off from the bean plants.
I love what I learned back then while working alongside my father in the garden, and slipping skins off from steamy tomatoes with my mother in the kitchen to prep them for canning. Raw carrots taste better when there’s still a little warm dirt on them. Hard work is good for you. Snipping bushels of beans on the front porch can turn into a neighborhood party (complete with homemade ice cream). A well-stocked fruit cellar is comforting. Chores are necessary. Food is better when you know where it comes from.
Lessons taught and learned.
Today, with a home and a yard of my own, my gardening has been limited to a few beds that I tend to and what I call my “garden table” – a table by my back entry that holds containers of herbs that I fuss over during the growing season. I love to weed my beds and deadhead my flowers on a Sunday morning. To water after a long day at work. To stick my face in the basil and inhale when I come and go each day. To share what I grow with friends.
My yard – the work involved in maintaining it and the hours spent dreaming about what I will tackle or plant next – brings me joy. Who knew all of those years ago, when I fussed about having to weed the beans before I could play, that someday I would cherish those memories and choose to labor in the dirt.
Contributor, Dirt on Dirt