I gave another “how to” talk on veggie gardening last night at the church of one of my friends, but I wasn’t the only speaker for the evening. The guy who followed me is a widower whose mother-in-law just celebrated her 101st birthday. My talk was pretty much about the nuts-&-bolts of gardening here in Georgia, so his talk was a great choice to follow mine.
He told about his own garden and about why he gardens: he just loves it!
He plants a very large garden and gives most of what he grows away. His green beans are State half-runners; he plants an eighty-foot row and has them climb up wire fencing. He cans many, many quarts of those beans every year.
He plants sixty tomato plants each year (all Park’s Whopper), but has never canned a single tomato. What he and his family don’t eat fresh, he gives away. He doesn’t even eat cucumbers, but he grows them, and he gives those away, too.
He told a couple of stories about gardening, and one story was from his childhood. Apparently, his father had a big garden, and the sons did a lot of the work in it when they were big enough. One hot, sunny day, the boys were sent out with hoes to clear out the weeds. They were told that their father would come get them in about an hour and a half.
The boys took off their shirts to work, but it was still a hot day, and the work was hard. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. After a while, a bird flew by and dropped a load down the back of one of the brothers. That brother dropped his hoe and said, “it’s raining. Time to get back to the house.”
That last bit made me chuckle, but there was more. It turns out that that particular brother has never planted a garden of his own in all his life.
It is interesting that people have such different reactions to childhood gardening. The one brother, the man giving the talk, developed a real love of gardening, and has kept on planting, tending, and harvesting his whole life. Another brother hated it, and never wanted to have anything to do with gardening ever again.
When I was growing up, my family didn’t have a garden. Sometimes when I talk with gardeners who remember working alongside parents or grandparents out in the garden, I feel a little twinge of envy. That history seems so wonderful, and I don’t have that. But after hearing the story, I’m not sure that the lack of childhood garden memories is such a loss.