Tuesday, April 21, 2009
How does your garden grow?
It seems we've always had a vegetable garden. There was a large one with corn, strawberries, tomatoes, snap and butter beans, and corn when I was a kid. It was my job to water the tomato plants and pick the beans.
I would haul buckets of water from the house to the garden--back and forth toting a five gallon bucket to keep the plants from dying. I don't remember getting much in the way of allowance for doing that. It was just something that my father told me to do, so I did it. And it wasn't something that I particularly wanted to do.
But his tomato and strawberry plants were his favorites. He would carefully remove the suckers from the tomatoes. He liked the Big Boy and Better Boy varieties. These plants would grow to be over six feet, and he put wire cages around them so that they wouldn't bend or be broken in wind.
I learned about side dressing the tomatoes with fertilizer. And often fish carcasses were buried next to the plants. My father said that they were good for growth. I remember not wanting to pour too much water at a time on a plant because I didn't want to unearth a smelly fish carcass.
The tomato plants are in the garden now. The first suckers have been removed. The lettuce is coming up. The herbs are doing great. I don't have to drag buckets of water these days. There's an irrigation system set up to drip water into the neat rows of wooden boxes that contain the plants.
It's a great sense of satisfaction to see the plants growing and thriving. They do well in spring before the heat of summer starts to get to them.
I like the earthy smell of the garden. There aren't any fish carcasses there. But the smell of sage, rosemary, and sweet basil provide a great aroma. And every time a sucker is pinched off a plant, I smell that pungent tomato plant smell on my fingers. It takes me back in a good way to times past.
It takes work to have a garden. I learned that years ago toting water. There's weeding, fertilizing, checking for insects and blight. But the reward of tasting that first home grown tomato makes it all worthwhile. I think that my father would agree on that and be smiling to see the blooms and the little green fruit starting to appear.