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HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
7 November 2013
Phil sent this photo around to the family this morning.
They are harvesting their garden before the winter weather sets in in Boston. I was very impressed.
I have such a pathetic history of gardening.
We grew up in San Francisco, where we had a concrete back yard with one little rectangular cement "box" which was maybe 3 feet by 6 feet. My mother was determined we were going to grow things there.
She had been raised on a ranch and, as this was during the Depression, growing your own food was a real necessity. She grew up loving the soil, loving eating vegetables fresh out of the garden.
So we tried gardening in our little concrete plot. I don't know if we did it more than one year, but all I remember is pulling up some sad looking carrots, thin as a pencil and about 6" long. Our fresh vegetable crop. It did not make a fresh vegetable lover out of me.
I never had a place with a real garden area until after Jeri was born and we rented a house with a huge back yard, but I was busy with a baby and being pregnant, hanging diapers on the clothesline and re-washing them when the dog pulled them down. I never had time for a garden and never planted anything there, nor do I remember planting anything in the small yard of our first house, when busy chasing 5 children around the house and making all of our own bread. We moved in and there was a huge Myer lemon tree in the back yard, which I harvested regularly and enjoyed the fruits of, but I don't think we ever actually planted anything of our own there.
When we moved here to Davis, though, the kids were now old enough to help with a garden and we had lots of space and I decided I would become Mother Earth. I bought gardening books and seeds and small plants and we spent time loosening the hard clay soil that runs through our yard. I remember that we planted tomatoes (I was absolutely in heaven eating real home grown tomatoes, until I encountered tomato horn worms, possibly the most disgusting garden pest. After cutting one in half, I discovered I couldn't bring myself to go into the tomato patch any more!)
I also remember that we planted corn and we got real corn stalks and a few small, but tasty corn on the cob, the first time I learned how you don't need cooking, butter or salt to have a really delicious "thing." Loved that corn, but I think we only planted corn one year and then installed a jungle gym in the space where our corn "field" had been.
I had the biggest success with zucchini, which grows like weeds here and which nobody liked. My famous threat to the kids, turning up their noses at a big succulent bowl of cooked zucchini: "You better eat it because the longer it takes to eat this one, the bigger the one in the garden is going to get." (They grew to be the size of small watermelons.) I remember making a lot of zucchini bread, which I think may negate the whole health purpose of growing your own vegetables.
We had better luck with fruit trees and had a peach tree that produced prodigiously until one year it literally exploded and gave us buckets and buckets of peaches and then promptly died. We also had great plums for several years until it developed some sort of disease and had to be cut down. We also picked apricots off of the tree that was on the property when we bought it. We may still have apricots on that tree, but the tree grows up into the telephone wires and it is impossible to reach any fruit which may be growing on it. We still have apples on the apple tree we planted, but they are tiny and usually die before they ripen, though once in awhile if I remember to check the tree, I may be able to harvest a bowl of them, enough to make applesauce.
I had to admit that I was definitely not a gardener, but by God Jeri and Phil are great gardeners on their little patch of land (not unlike the yard I had as a kid in San Francisco). I am amazed at the things they harvest. Laurel and the girls are also starting to grow small patches of vegetables, enough to have the thrill of picking something that you grew, but not enough to feed the family for a dinner. Ned and Marta may have planted stuff, but not that I knew of.
Now even if I wanted to try growing something, I can't kneel any more, which puts a crimp in any prospect. I suggested that Walt build a box around the patio that I could try growing stuff in, but I think he realized that it would probably be a waste of his time and money and that I would not follow through on it, so the box never got built.
I did try a basil plant this year, though. I saw nice healthy looking plants at Trader Joe's and bought one, figuring that it was cheap enough that even if I only got one batch of pesto out of it, it was comparable to the price of buying a bunch of basil. I actually got, I think, four batches of pesto out of it, so I was ahead money. Each time I harvested, to my amazement, new leaves sprouted. Each new leaf batch was a bit more pathetic than the last one until I finally had tiny leaves that reached their maturity at about the size of mint leaves, but they were tasty.
I really envy those who have green thumbs. My thumb used to be black, I would tell people, but it's actually kind of an anemic chartreuse these days, meaning I can keep things alive for a few weeks, but never "alive" is the operative word here. They never thrive.
I am fortunate that we live in a farming area and that we have a
farmers market and produce stands all over the place where I can, if I want to, find
farm-fresh produce that is better than what you find at the supermarkets. Of course,
not being a lover of vegetables, I rarely take advantage of that perk of living
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Needless to say, this is not my garden!!!
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