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Archive for September, 2010

It began in a garden

As a child I felt lucky to be the “chosen” to help with the family garden. Of course that was just my interpretation of events and perhaps my siblings felt relief when they didn’t have to participate. I don’t really know why my Father ask me, but I do know we had a special bond and it was related to the times when we did things such as gardening, fishing or hunting.  Sometimes one of my siblings would go along, but I think I enjoyed these events more than they did.  I guess it might be time to discuss such things with them. But I digress, my Father used to require my assistance in the planting and tending the garden — it started when we had a garden in our own back yard. This to me, was a pretty large garden and I believe even with my adult mind, it was pretty big. The time that really made a huge difference in my life was when my Father gave me my own row in our garden to plant. He had purchased a packet of mixed seeds from Henry Fields catalog just for me. I carefully planted the seeds and eagerly awaited their germination. Of course this was after I had carefully planted various things for him, so even at my young age I could identify some of the seeds. My dad was an extremely precise and particular gardener. I remember once he gave me a stick the exact distance he wanted me to place seeds in the furrow he prepared for them. I was to use the stick as I planted the seeds so that I could make them equidistant.  Now you have an idea of what he expected from anyone who helped in the garden. Sometimes he requested that 2 or 3 seeds be planted in the same “hill.”  I was one of those kids who wanted to please him, so naturally I carefully did what he ask.  But the first time I planted my mixed seeds I think I didn’t plant them as carefully as my Father required me to plant his seeds so I was dismayed at the results. The next year I  tried to space them more carefully hoping I would have better success. It was always exciting to watch the plants grow and even more thrilling to harvest my very own produce. After a few years we stopped planting the garden behind our house and allowed grass to grow so we children would have more space for playing in the backyard. From that time on we planted a big garden out where my father’s parents lived since they had a few acres with their house on the edge of town. One of the only times I remember all of us working together in the garden was when we dug out the potatoes.  As I recall my Father would plow out the potatoes and most of my family and my grandparents helped gather and sort out the potatoes. When they were plowed out, some would get nicked by the plow and so those potatoes needed to be separated out and used relatively soon since they would spoil. I’m certain those potatoes were divided between my family and my grandparents. The rest of the potatoes were put in baskets and taken to the barn where they were spread out on the floor to harden them off.  After that we took them home to our house and placed them in aerated wooden bins that my father built for them. The bins were stacked in the back of a block cellar constructed off the side of the garage which was just a few steps out the back door. The back door was off the kitchen making it convenient to go to the cellar where we stored canned foods that my Mother, my sister and I put up throughout the gardening season as well as frozen vegetables that my parents liked preserved that way. I have now explained my early  gardening years oh so long ago. That led me to love growing things which expanded over the years to include not only edible things, but also many flowers, herbs, gourds, mushrooms, etc. In addition to the addiction to gardening where ever I have lived over the years I also developed a love of foraging wild foods and cooking whatever I was able to not only   grow but also whatever I might forage in the wild as well as what I might find at the supermarket or farmer’s market that would be a new dining experience. I plan to follow this post  up with some of the many experiences I’ve had involving my passions about gardening, foraging and cooking.

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