Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mother's other garden

I just lost the whole composition.  I don't know what I did.  It just deleted.  Bummer.

So, I start over.

Here I go and hope that I don't mess this up.

I have written several times about my mother's garden -- her flower garden. 

I actually have a very small garden, which I am permitted to have as long as I put it in the mulched area in front of my condo.  It has mint and lavender in it.  That's it.  Two tea-making plants.

Mom had another garden, however.  It was between the garage which was in back of the house, and the church.  Some kind soul in the church had put up a fence around an area 20 x 20, next to the garage, and it got sun almost all day.

Someone would till the remains of last year's garden and mom would get started.  She would rake that tilled soil until it was smooth, very few lumps.

Then she and I would plant marigolds all around inside edge of the fence.  She would take her finger and make a 'trench' into which I would put the seeds -- seeds she had saved from the prior year's marigolds.  That would be Day 1.  Day one was the day of protection.   Mom told me that marigolds kept certain bugs away from the garden.

Day 2 would be the day we would go out and plant the lettuce.  I love, love, love garden lettuce.  My daughter, Becky, recented bought me two bags filled with her garden lettuce and it was enough for five dinner salads for Alan and me.  And that reminded me of mom's other garden.

Also into her "other garden" would go tomato plants and old broomstick stakes for holding up the plants as they grew and grew and grew.  We had enough tomatoes on her plants each summer to put up jars and jars of tomatoes which she would use for stewed tomatoes, a favorite of my father's, and spaghetti sauce.  I recall that several years she started her own tomato plants from seeds she had save from the previous year's crop -- Jersey Tomatoes.  The best!

She also planted zuchinni, which I didn't really enjoy until I was a teenager and my taste buds changed to liking everything.  Cucumbers, from which she jarred up pickles of the bread and butter variety.  I vaguely recall watermelon, but I think that was a trial run and it ran over a lot of the garden and mom wasn't thrilled.  We gave away a lot of watermelon that year.  She also planted beans and one year she planted corn.  I think we got six ears per year.  Not exactly the bumper crop she was hoping for.  And all the seeds were saved from the prior year's crop.  She also had a large crop of sweet basil, chives, and scallions.

So, that's mom's other garden.  And lest you readers think that was the only garden in the neighborhood, it wasn't.  I was born in the waning years of World War II and victory gardens were the norm, and that vegetable growing thing continued until I was in my late teens all over Runnemede.

Finally, I have to tell you that I would eat tomatoes right off the vine -- no washing, just a wipe on my overalls.  What parent today would permit their child to do that today?  They might get sick.  I guess eating dirt was normal back then.  The apples from the neighbor's apple tree got the same treatment.  We picked them off the ground, wiped the surface dirt off and bit in --  we ate those apples worms and all.

I'm don't remember many stomach aches either.


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