Skip to main content

Gardens are a thing in my part of the country.  Not pretty suburban-type flowerbeds, those explosions of color that concentrate nature on quarter-acre lots, although I admire both the expertise and dedication required to squeeze so much variety into a small enough space to produce a magazine cover-worthy garden.  

No, I'm talking about vegetable gardens.  They're part of the culture.  Not a phenomenon, not a fad.  Before locavorism, before foodies and urban gardens, before the Back To The Land movement of the '70's, before the Victory Garden, around here, there was hunger.  Among the locals, the older people--actually, among just about everyone who hasn't moved in from Somewhere Else--when you talk about a garden, you're talking about a vegetable garden.

When visiting, it's considered good manners to compliment the host's garden, even if it's a little bedraggled or weedy.  But if a garden is totally out of control--plants buried under mountains of lamb's quarter, pigroot and bindweed, crawling with potato bugs, harlequin beetles and Mexican bean beetle larvae--it's better form to ignore the garden and instead inquire about the health of the family, because surely someone must be sick to have let it run down so.  (This is only a slight exaggeration.)  Old school men who wouldn't be caught dead admiring a dahlia will wax rhapsodic about the color and size of bush beans, and without risk to their manly reputations.  Old school women inspect corn, comparing relative stalk height, ear size, and straightness of rows.  (This, too, is only a slight exaggeration.)  Both carefully record the date of the first tomato harvested--variety, when planted , and whether the seed was saved or gifted.

I've already indulged in two exaggerations.  But no more.  And it's no exaggeration to say that we take our gardens seriously, with reason.

When I was a kid, working the garden was punishment, maybe for some infraction you committed, or something you didn't do, or to make up for but whatever you did the time you didn't get caught, or just because the parents were tired of looking at us.  "Get out there and weed," or "Go pick beans" was the rallying cry of a frustrated parent, and a condemnation to the Worst of Fates.  For my sisters, the style-conscious ones anyway, this was cruel and unusual punishment.  It was impossible to maintain dignity, let alone style, in 90-plus degree sun.  And, yes, along with my sisters, I hated the garden.  I didn't like anything about it, except maybe peeling a fresh-picked cucumber around evening, and watching the sun set while eating slices of sweet wet fruit.  Otherwise, no--from first planting to canning the harvest, it was punishment, and it was meant to be punishment.

Something happened, though, in the years after I left home.  I began to miss it.  Not the vegetables, not with Farmer's Markets and neighbors who left bags of tomatoes on the doorstep.  No, it was being in the garden that I missed--I missed the bugs and the sweat, the ritual of checking the peapods, judging when they were Full Enough but not Too Far Gone.  And the beans, waiting for that day of critical mass when it was time for the first picking, the way the vine tendrils are lifted out of the way to expose a clump of six or eight long perfectly ripe green beans, the way the hand closes over the clump and pulls them away all at once.  It happens only once a year.  Successive pickings are inevitably piecemeal; there's nothing like the abandon of that first picking.

Row by row, the vines plundered and left to recover, the buckets filled.  Then, in the shade, the companionable job of snitting and snapping, cool drinks and stories, reminiscences, comparisons to gardens past, and maybe a little worry over rust or bean beetles.

And the dirt itself--I missed the dirt.  Everything from planting tomatoes to unhilling potatoes, turning the pitchfork and watching golden tubers burst out and lie in the heat and dust of a dry September.  The longer I lived in a place without a suitable garden spot, the more I missed it.

When, in a happy intersection of luck and opportunity, we bought a farm complete with a wreck of a house, one of the first jobs of our first spring was laying out the garden.  Our dogs Molly and Shadow developed a taste for corn and tomatoes.  The day we came home from work to find the corn pulled down and Molly lying in the shade of the tomato vines, eating her fill, we realized we were going to need both a strategy and a fence.

And for fifteen years, every year I get a little better at the garden.  Year by year, I seem to be improving my stand against the weeds and the bad bugs; interplanting and pest picking have kept (almost) all the chemicals at bay.  Last year a bad case of tomato bacterial rot made copper dust a necessity, and saved a meager crop.  Fortunately, the two years before I had bumper crops and lots of canned tomatoes stored up.

Every year I try something different--a different method of pruning, or planting, or pest management, always with a control so I can tell what works and what's wishful thinking.  After a couple of years of making pickles that no one ate, and eggplant that my family greeted with barfy noises, and other experiments that Did Not End Well, I settled on planting only what my family will eat--which excludes squash and most root vegetables.

For a while I shared space with my son's Army men, who executed complicated assaults among the potatoes and got lost in squads in the beans.  When I was ready to water, my son would dig small trenches and flood his Army bases.  The only time we ever  really clashed was the day he wanted to use gas instead of water so his green flamethrowers could realistically assault the gray Army fortifications.  As Supreme Allied Commander, I vetoed that plan, and some grunt-level grumbling ensued for a respectable length of time.

Even though I lost some space to the Army for a few years, it was a trade I was happy to make.  Even today, although my son is an adult, I'll occasionally turn up a little green man (or a gray or blue one).  They make me smile.  I always put them back so I can find them again next year.

We find other things, too--buttons, arrowheads and flakes, the occasional 19th century penny or half-penny, and more run-of-the-mill discoveries that have washed in on floods over the years.  People have lived here for a long time, and once upon that time the garden covered about an acre and spanned the whole side yard.

In the basement we found a room with a heavy door, the interior window fitted with bars.  Because the house is antebellum, our first thought was that slaves were imprisoned there.  But on a second look we realized that the bars were galvanized, dating from the 1930's.  Previous owners told us that the basement room, an interior room with only the one door and window opening into the basement, was called the "sommlier room" and was for food storage.  Under an epic coating of mold and fungus that ranged in color from yellow, through purple, to sooty black, shelves had been built and plastered into the walls.  That room measured fifteen by twenty feet, sufficient to store a year's worth of food for the family and farm hands.  The window bars, and the fact that they were part of the heaviest fortifications in the house, testified to the harshness of the times, and the hunger that drove people to break into other people's homes and ransack them for food.

These are more prosperous days; the garden is much smaller and isn't essential to keep the family fed.  But it wasn't always this way.  Traditional local recipes feature leather britches beans, pinto beans, country ham that hung in the meat house covered with borax to keep skippers away, and other foods that don't depend on canning techniques, freezing or refrigeration.  Potatoes, carrots, onions and other root vegetables that could be kept underground and safe from freezing.  Pickles.  Sauerkraut.

These days it's tomatoes and peppers, lettuce and that most du jour of vegetables, kale.  Kale, which is an ancient green.  It's bitter; chopped, you cook the hell out of it and eat it with vinegar.  It's local, and it goes way back.  Point is, it's nothing that falls under long-term old school storage, but is all eat-on-the-fly, requires refrigeration or canning, etc.  Today's garden is a locavore's delight, not a thing that a family in extremis would find satisfactory.

The difference between today and yesterday is often on my mind when I'm in the garden.  Recently I've been pondering vegetables, especially root vegetables.  Radishes, turnips.  And cabbage, hard-rind cold squashes.  All those things that your kids won't eat.  Truth be told, turnips and liver both fall in the dine-by-coercion category.  I wonder how many of these foods we raise because of tradition; surely they're the direct product of hunger--hunger as in "I'll eat anything, including the wallpaper paste" hunger.

Before the Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was renowned for its farming productivity and the fertility of its land.  Four years of war, compounded by Philip Sheridan's famous Raid, left the Valley desolate.

In 1870, five years after the end of hostilities, almost without exception the numbers of various types of livestock on hand and production of major field crops remained far below pre-war levels. Production of corn had fallen fifty-two percent, rye thirty-five percent, and hay eleven percent. The number of horses—the main source of draft power on Valley farms—had decreased fifteen percent; the number of milk cows in the region had fallen six percent and beef cattle twenty-four percent; the numbers of sheep were down thirty percent and swine forty-six percent. Further, in many counties, “the waste of war” resulted in sharply reduced land values as a consequence of formerly improved lands reverting to a “‘wild’” state. In 1870, Valley farms contained 34,000 fewer improved acres than they had in 1860.
Shenandoah At War illustrates some measure of the misery.  As a historian guide at Belle Grove plantation, in Middleburg, Virginia, explained, between the people who died from starvation, disease or violence and the ones who gave up and moved away, the Valley's population didn't return to pre-Civil War levels until the 1960's.  In the early spring of 1865, the Rockingham Register, the twice-weekly regional newspaper, published an editorial in which the author implored local farmers to plant every square foot of arable land in Irish (white) potatoes, because the war had so devastated the economy that people were starving.  And that was after army after army had marched through, plundering farms, raiding cellars, and tearing down trees and sheds for firewood.  Ads in the Rockingham Register (which, sadly, is not available online and is not complete anywhere), in the year after Appomattox, are remarkable for the number of services and good offered for barter, especially food barter, as well as the stores whose primary selling feature is "Cheap!  Cheaper than anyone else!  Did we mention that we have the cheapest prices?" The Register itself bartered subscriptions for food and firewood.

The twin traumas of the Civil War era and the Depression mark this land; they have largely faded from the memories of descendants, but the scars are still there.  "Your garden looks good," is still a common courtesy.  A good garden is a common measure of respectability here, and someone who doesn't keep one is likely to meet a lifted eyebrow and a casual, "So, you ain't from here, are you?"  I could, if I had to, plant and maintain a garden that would feed a big family for a year--I know how to do it, even if I don't need to.  Gardening is a tradition that gets inside; despite all the objections of the inner teenager, there's still that thrill of dirt under the nails, the sight of the first seedling, the zen pleasure of midseason and the ache of the last weeding.  My garden--despite the frou-frou veggies and my occasional resort to my little gas tiller--my garden ties me to the land, and to the past.

Originally posted to DrLori on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 11:51 AM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing and Community Spotlight.


Be honest: what is a garden to you?

3%3 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
19%19 votes
15%15 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
21%21 votes
31%31 votes
4%4 votes

| 97 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  my parents were locavores (7+ / 0-)

    before that was a word.  

    thank you for sharing this.  when people have the land, and time to do this, it's wonderful!  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 12:20:32 PM PST

    •  If your folks were locavores (5+ / 0-)

      you had a great upbringing.  You grew up knowing what food is supposed to taste like.  

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:06:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mother was so unvegetably (5+ / 0-)

        that my father, who was raised in a farming village in northern Greece, often took me to the store on Saturdays to do REAL produce shopping. My mother's idea of produce shopping was a head of iceburg lettuce, a bag of red delicious apples, and a large package of chocolate chips. My father taught me to make salad, which my mother never particularly cared for. I'd put some on her plate and tell her if she didn't eat it, I would get her dessert.

        Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

        by anastasia p on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 05:00:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My mom was the same way (5+ / 0-)

          She hated being outdoors and the only things I ever remember her cooking were steak (my step dad loved it), a Sunday roast and an occasional "everything in" soup. She was a typical 50s 60s working housewife who thought that the invention of instant mashed potatoes was the best thing ever.

          But, I wasn't raised by my mother. I got to live with her only now and then, I was raised by my grandparents and they lived thru WWI and WWII and the Depression. I did my share of gardening and killing and plucking chickens.

           On Mondays we got up before God in the summer and baked the week's bread. We washed clothes on Tuesdays with a wringer washer and put them on the line. Wednesdays were for ironing, even the sheets. The rest of the week was governed by duties, I grew up old school. When I started my first period in early '62 I was literally "on the rag" and you washed and reused them.

          When I was a young mother my grandmother could no longer live on her own and she moved to the nursing home down the street. We used to joke that we never had to leave, the hospital, nursing home and cemetery were all on our block. I moved into grandma's house, the house that both my mother and I were raised in and I raised my daughter there.

          I ended up having to give it up, the city wanted the land to expand the cemetery. I mourn that house and the garden, the land. Gardening is my way to keep contact with that part of my life, it is a passion. I have to garden, even if it ends up just being house plants. I have to.

          And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

          by high uintas on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 05:51:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh my, what a history. So sorry you lost (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            high uintas, tardis10, chimene

            the house and land. I can see what it meant to you.

            Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:16:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I find it hard to even convey (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peregrine kate, tardis10, chimene

              how hard I took it. When I was writing that comment little moments came back and it was almost like being there. It's so weird that I was so attached, it was a dinky, little, old house.

              And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

              by high uintas on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:25:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I'm so sorry you lost the home you loved. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a gilas girl, high uintas

            There's nothing more bitter than having your home taken from you, even if it lives in your memory.

            You must have had what we call now a traumatic childhood, but you obviously came out the better for it.  Work in childhood is a good thing, even if we don't realize that we're learning life skills at the time.  Like gardening.  You'll never know what you get the chance to break your plants out of pots.

            "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

            by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:01:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not to be misunderstood (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I was future tripping about only having house plants, talking about when I'm too old or infirm to be able to garden proper. I have a garden now and it really does save me.

              And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

              by high uintas on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:02:59 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  It is a great thing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            high uintas

            to have such close bonds to family and home.  I'm sorry that the city took the land-- sounds very difficult.

  •  I too have been fortunate to find a house to fix (10+ / 0-)

    that came with enough room to garden, and a partner who loves the heavy work, as long as he can use a machine to do it.

    Now, the freezer is nearly full, and it's time to cook the winter squash so it can be handy to defrost, heat and serve.

    They say an optimist plants trees for fruits and nuts, and we have been doing that.  My only wish is that there were more perennial veggies!  

    Thank you for a lovely walk through your garden.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. &

    by weck on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 12:20:35 PM PST

  •  I am lucky enough to live ... (10+ / 0-)

    In the Northern CALIFORNIA town of Chico, after a life of living in Studio apartments in the city of San Francisco.  My house came is 3/4th an Acre of land, though last year I only managed to Garden of 6 plots, 4'x8', (to many years of Community Gardens in San Francisco, I guess, I went with what I knew!).

    I made some blunders, like planting 4 zucchini plants, By Mid-August I had ripe zucchinis coming out my ears, I have 4 2 quarts of Zucchini soup still in the freezer! Next year I think I will only plant 1, two at the most.  I only planted 2 tomatoes, and no Roma's, next year I think I will plant 4 including a Roma, I truly LOVED fresh tomatoes soup!  I planted Broccoli not knowing how big the plants got, and that I would only get one head of Broccoli from each plant!  I did Chard and Kale, and fed most of that to my turtles, THEY LOVED IT!  I tried for an Autumn garden of Lettuce and spinage, lettuce and mixed greens are doing well, spinage got t killed when the neighbors dogs broke threw the fence and dug up the garden.  

    I also planted a whole 4'x8' plot of bare root strawberry's I got off the internet.  I did not know that you don't get fruit the first year with the variety I bought!  Hoping for a bonker crop next year!

    Here's to doing a little research before you just go planting what you love, with what I learned in the garden this year, I hope to have an even better attempt next spring!  I might try to add one more 4'x8' plot, but keeping up with the weeds come the heat of the summer  was a lot of work with what I had, it might just be enough for one!

    - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

    by l3m0n on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 12:40:03 PM PST

    •  4 x 8's are great. The perfect size (6+ / 0-)

      to keep up with.

      If you like Romas, you might want to try heirloom tomatoes for eating.  Brandywines are really popular, but Cherokee Purple is my favorite--a smoky salty, almost mysterious, taste.

      Do you do hot- or cold frames?  They can get you started early  or extend the harvest here.  In your location, I expect you could have fresh greens year round.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:05:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, thanks I will look into cold frames, (11+ / 0-)

        I start my seeds inside in early march under a germination lamp, which worked well for me last year, all of $16 at OSH Hardware, by late March I was hardening outside, and then into the ground.

        I will look into the Heirloom varieties, to be honest, I hate tomatoes to eat, but I love to cook with them, and the one's I grew last year just EXPLODED with flavor, made everything I cooked taste that much better!

        I think  I planted Early Boy and Big  Boy variety if my memory serves me.  I didn't have that many left over to give away, though by September none of my friends wanted any more Zucchini, and I swear they would grow to a foot OVER NIGHT! Some mornings I would have 12-14 zucchinis on my counter, Stuffed Zucchini, Zucchini Soup, Zucchini Chowder, for a month I swear all I was eating was Zucchini!

        Chico is at the Northern End of the Central Valley, and the soul is VERY FERTILE, the days are long and the summers HOT.  By 9am during the summer the temps would reach 95-98, some nights it never cooled off under the mid-90s.  I learned quite early in the summer the peak temperatures re reach at about 6:45 at night, coming from the SF Bay Area, where the fog rolls in at 3pm and the evening are cool this was surprising to me.

        It meant that I would have to get up  at 4am to get a couple of hours of Gardening i before it was just too hot to do much of anything. By early September I will be honest I gave up, and let the weeds and my Veggies just  fight it out!  Tomatoes and Zucchini didn't seem to mind too much LOL.

        - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

        by l3m0n on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:35:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I call that "survival of the fittest" gardening, (9+ / 0-)

          letting the weeds fight it out.  :) Here where we are, it's temperate enough that the cold dips to below zero farenheit only a couple of weeks out of the year.  Too cold for a cold frame to do much more than extend the season a few weeks.  I try to put out a cover crop of crimson clover in the fall, and till it under in the spring.

          I too try to get up early and garden in the cool.  It's better for the plants, anyway.  Sometimes it's better to let the weeds grow rather than stress the plants when it's really and dry.

          The varieties of eating tomatoes you've planted are hybrids, great for reliability at the cost of taste.  Before you dismiss the breed entirely, you owe it to yourself to try the heirlooms.  Amazing variety and tastes.  I'll be interested to hear your reaction to a real tomato.  For a few years I saved seed from a plum cooking tomato that was called, variously, "Shifflett" or "Big Mama."  If you ever see it, snap it up.  It's like a Roma, except it's bigger and the taste--it's a Roma on steroids.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:57:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  our very first broccoli crop was GREAT! sweet and (0+ / 0-)

      nice. and we haven't had another as good in the intervening 20 years! we usually get something, but we don't remember particularly what we DID that year! no idea what variety we planted. we did raised beds, and a BIG garden, and it was sort of in an ancient stream bed...

      anyway, we have noticed that IF the broccoli doesn't bolt when you take off the main head, you MAY be able to collect small pieces from the various side leaf locations... usually by the time we get our first big head, there isn't enough cool spring weather left to let the little guys develop, before the bolting happens.

      summer heat usually hangs on WAY too long into the fall, here, to try a fall crop.

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:05:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same here. Fall crops get started late (0+ / 0-)

        and die off early.

        We've had good luck with broccoli and cauliflower. My biggest challenge is keeping them bug-free without chemicals.  I think it has something to do with farming on riverbottom land.  Do you move your crops around?  That helps all of them, balances the Ph, and keeps them a step ahead of pests.  A cover crop that returns nitrogen to the soil helps a lot, especially it helps cruciferous vegetables.

        You might try planting your broccoli early, even if you have to cover them to keep late-season frost from nipping them.  I don't the budget for cloches, so I use milk jugs with the bottoms cut out.  They fit right over the plant and aren't a pain to deal with.  And they don't shatter when you drop them (a I inevitably do).  When the head develops earlier the plant doesn't bolt, and you can harvest the side heads for a long while.

        "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

        by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:08:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love turnips, okay? (9+ / 0-)

    And the way to get your family to eat them is:

    don't tell them they're eating turnips

    My father always claimed he HATED turnips. So what did I do? I snuck them into soups & stews & half-n-half with mashed potatoes.

    He didn't know he was eating them until I told him (after the fact).

    Dad grew up on a farm. I can only guess that he was served boiled turnips (with or without butter) that were really old and bitter.

    Fresh turnips -- and we can always find fresh turnips today -- are delicious. But I wouldn't serve them boiled, plain: I always include them as part of a different dish. An old Joy of Cooking also has a recipe for them scalloped.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 01:32:30 PM PST

    •  I love turnips, too. (7+ / 0-)

      This time of year, my tastes turn toward the bitter or acrid side of vegetables.  Kind of like in the spring, when I'm craving dandelions and sorrel (the old folks used to call that "cleaning the blood").

      I can't get my family near a turnip.  My MIL used to boil the life out of vegetables, and turned my husband permanently away.  And forget smuggling them into food.  She did that, too.  Mashed boiled canned peas into mashed potatoes.  

      It's just not worth the emotional carnage.   So if I'm craving a turnip or an acorn squash, I buy one for me at the local produce stand and endure the editorial commentary at the dinner table.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 02:02:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's just a crime against food: (7+ / 0-)
        Mashed boiled canned peas into mashed potatoes.
        I actually prefer mashed potatoes when half of them are mashed turnips: it's much lighter, and delicious.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 02:29:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i used to grow turnips (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        high uintas, DrLori

        i would lug over a hundred pounds of em down into the basement in the fall then lug 100 plus pounds up in the spring and into the forest. The following years I tried not weeding or thinning, but alas to no avail, repeating the down in the fall and out in the spring routine. The only thing that worked was not to grow them. I might get back into it if I can teach myself to grow only one turnip per year.

        I've learned that the things I really like are difficult to grow and protect and the things I don't like so much thrive with no effort.

        music- the universal language

        by daveygodigaditch on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:31:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do that with potatoes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We just grow too many of them, and they don't last well enough not to sprout.

          It's funny how we force ourselves to perform chores we know are fruitless just because we've always done them.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:17:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    A garden to me is a passion for vegetables.

    One question: what on earth is pigroot? I'm the weed queen and never heard of it. I Googled it and it doesn't seem to exist Could you mean pigweed? We have a lot of that in the same areas we have a lot of lamb's quarter. Both are pretty easy to pull. I love weeding. It's so zen.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

    by anastasia p on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 04:58:43 PM PST

    •  Probably meant (0+ / 0-)


      And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

      by high uintas on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 05:57:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pigweed and pigroot are the same thing. (0+ / 0-)

      Had to look it up.  

      Pigroot is a local term.  I didn't know it by another name.  Having looked it up, I learned it's also called redroot.  

      I forget sometimes to differentiate between what I learned growing up and what I've learned since.  Thanks--now I have three names to call the damn thing, in addition to all the various four-letter names it attracts.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:13:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I grew up with a large family garden, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, DrLori

    and never lost my taste for good fresh food. There was hardly anything I disliked; I even liked squash and eggplant.

    These days I travel too much to have my own garden. But I buy as much as I can from roadside stands and farmer's markets. The pretty-but-tasteless produce sold at grocery stores is my last resort.

  •  The secretary at a nearby non-denominational (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, DrLori

    Protestant church had grown up with a vegetable garden and decided it would be wonderful to plant one on the church's spare vacant lot, 1.5 blocks from my home. Community members--like me--also occasionally church people, swing by to water and weed it. I've been enjoying the heck out of that garden since the middle of last summer. It's been lowering my grocery bill, too. I personally planted greens, collards, in one empty plot right before the fall equinox. They are high enough now to pluck. Their greens are tender enough to eat raw. Coming out of the garden this afternoon, I noticed the next-door neighbor had a lot of persimmon trees; they're a gorgeous, unmistakable color this time of year. Literally, there were lots of these fuyu persimmons (the hard, squat kind) ripening right against the cyclone fence that divides the garden lot from their yard. The fruits were a bit too big to fit through the fence. I muttered, "If I only had me a blade, I could steal me some of them persimmons."

    Then I knew I had been living in Oakland for too long.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 05:24:56 PM PST

  •  So true. A garden is more than vegetables. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, DrLori

    I could surely buy them cheaper, and local too. But it's the doing of it, and eating at least one thing every day from the garden, in season. Your description of how to know when to pick the green beans - perfect. You feel it in your hands. Or tomatoes, you're looking for a particular shade of red (why it's a problem picking when it's getting dark).

    We haven't had a frost yet here in the Pacific NW. I picked yet another cupful of late raspberries this afternoon. What a gift from the garden.

  •  Wonderful Diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    My NH father used to come home from his IBM job in NJ and go straight to the garden in his wingtips to till and pick and weed. We kids all made fun but boy we ate up the corn and tomatoes. He grew up in very hard times and gardens were work and survival.

    The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain

    by BlueMississippi on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 05:54:42 PM PST

  •  Ours is actually small and poorly kept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    ten 4x8 raised beds. The neighbors all oo and ah, and people stop to look walking by, just because no one seems to have gardens. Big fish small pond.

    We still have tomatoes that are fresh. Brought them in must be a month ago, wrapped in newspaper when they were green, still good.

    Great post by the way. I dont' think we could feed ourselves out of the garden. We'd have to learn to grow potatoes and cabbage.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:03:18 PM PST

    •  Actually, you'd be fine. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      Potatoes and cabbage are auto-pilot crops.  The biggest challenge is keeping the pests from eating them up.  Early mornings in the summer inevitably find me with a jar of soapy water, picking those disgusting potato beetle larvae.

      Lucky you!  You've got tomatoes.  Usually, by the season's end I'm so tired of them I give all the green ones to my mother-in-law, who was a Depression child and whom I've caught rifling my garden waste, looking for cast-offs when she could just pick perfectly formed vegetable.  She can't bear the idea that something is going to waste.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:33:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also... don't like turnips but love liver. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:04:47 PM PST

  •  such a nice diary ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, high uintas, DrLori

    my parents bought their second house in 1952 that had around an acre of land. The previous owner was an old woman, who offered refugees and people returning from the war with injuries a place to stay and feed them up. Her whole garden was used for vegetables, berries and fruit trees, nut trees and brushes.

    There were long rows of potatoes, long rows of strawberries, peas and beans, carrots, no cabbages, herbs, and yes asparagus (difficult to grow and pick). We had rasberries, blackberries, blueberries, red currants and black currants, gooseberries and rhubarb.

    The fence was overgrown with hazelnut bushes, we had a huge walnut tree, around ten quince trees out of those round fruits we made quince jelly (we all didn't like that jelly, so my mother got rid of the trees one after the other, as it was a lot of work to make the jelly and it was just driving her nuts to work so hard for the whole family then not liking the jam). All canned fruits were stored then in the dark basement, also fresh apples and the potatoes were stored like that. They lasted through the whole winter. My mother made jams and jelly out of the berries, always trying to find the best mix to make the most tasty jams, oh and then she made during hot summer days something which is called in German "Rote Gruetze", which is a sort of grits out of fruits and sugar and gelantine, slightly heated and the cooled in the fridge, eaten in those hot and hazy days. Delicious. Sigh.

    There were around ten apple trees (the brand was called "Boskop" in German and it was a crisp, more sour apple I loved dearly. We ate them fresh, made apple sauce out of them (never tasted such good apple sauce made out of any other sort of apples) With all the apples fallen down or not that good to eat fresh my mother made for us apple juice. I have never tasted any apple here in the US with the same kind of flavor.

    I like in the US the Stayman and the Braeburn apples ... but nothing was as tasty as an apple than the Boskop, so juicy, so crisp and such a prickly sour taste. We had two sour cherry trees and one big old sweet cherry tree. My mother canned the cherries and we ate the whole winter some sort of canned fruits as dessert as kids. Unofortunately we had no pear trees. My father always wanted an old pear tree, as he had childhood memories of such a tree. Oh, and I forgot the prune trees. Italian prunes are the called here in the US. There is also a yellow sort of plums to die for. My elementary school girl friend around the corner had two of those trees in the garden. I remember us sitting in the tree and eating those ripe, sweet plumbs in the pounds. Sigh, I can't forget that taste... Nothing you could taste here with any plums you can buy. Strangely enough we had no spinach. Something I would always want to have, but you know the real spinach, the one that tastes still a little bitter and like spinach, not like a green leaf that has almost no taste anymore.

    This was all in the fifties and early sixties.  With the economic good times, the garden changed. First the potatoes went, then the apple trees got recuced. No more beans or peas, no more experimentation with asparagus at the end nothing but lawn, flowers and bushes. My brother had mow the lawn and I had to rake the clippings for three hours straight. We both didn't like it and always wondered how my sister managed to not have to do the work ... :)

    This garden had its own well, imagine your own water and very good tasting one. Later we had to get connected to the county water, but my mother cheated and kept the well active and connected to our house. If we want to we can switch to our own water, though it's not allowed. But I think it's very reassuring to have your own water. We used it only for watering the garden.

    The previous owner had fed lots and lots of visitors and her family through WWII. Completely self-sustaining. She also had some chicken and some rabbits.

    If I were that lucky to own a piece of garden like that, I think I would be very happy to learn all of it from scratch. Here in the US the climate is difficult were I am, it's way too hot and humid in the summer. I can't do the garden work in that heat. Other than peppers and tomatoes and squash (which I don't like to eat) and aubergines (which I also not particularly like to eat) and zucchinis (which are ok to eat) I haven't been successful with anything else. I guess I always start way too late. If I still should have my tiny garden next spring I will start mid March, April is too late. This year most of what I planted other than the tomatoes was a complete failure and salad eaten up by animals. So, I am getting outta here and look for a better climate. ...

    I love the way you write. Great diary.

    •  So much of this sounds familiar, mimi, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, DrLori, mimi

      even though I only experienced it here, in the States, via my great-aunt and uncle when I myself was very young.
      They were emigres, along with my grandparents and great-grandparents, in the early 1920s, just before the U.S. effectively closed the borders against Eastern Europeans. They had lived in Transylvania when it was still controlled by Hungary, or at least by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and while there had been some intermarriage, a fair segment of the family retained its Saxon identity. (Apparently there was some sort of settlement program in the mid-19th century, sending Saxons to Transylvania. I know nothing more about it than that.)
      Anyway, once my great-uncle retired from the auto plant, he and his wife, my favorite aunt, bought a little property and raised some fruit for sale (berries and tree fruit), along with a few crops like corn and beans.
      Oh my goodness, did I ever love that place and my time there with them.
      But my great-uncle died when I was about ten, and shortly afterwards his widow sold the place and moved to a trailer park in Florida to be close to one of her daughters.
      Not too long after that, the land was sold again and made into a subdivision.
      I still miss it. And them.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:28:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, the heat! Just does me in. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      During the hot months, I try to get up before sunrise so I can be in the garden at first light and be done before it gets really hot.  It's better for the plants, too.

      But I'm extremely lucky.  I know so many people live where it doesn't cool off at night.  I don't know how anyone manages to keep a garden in that climate.

      You have great memories, and you've stored up more knowledge than you realize.  I hope you get into a garden one day soon.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:39:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, it would be nice if I had the strength (0+ / 0-)

        to get up at 4:45 am, do the gardening and leave at 6:30 to shower and dress and drive to work to arrive there at latest 9 am work til 5:30 - 6:00 pm, drive home to arrive there at 7:30, do the shopping til 8:00 pm, cook something to go into the garden at 9:pm to dig up the weeds in the dark while the temperature seldom goes below 88 F even at night and so humid and muggy  ...

        Nope, can't do. :)

        Nope, something has to give.

        •  That's okay. Your drive and wisdom (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          aren't going anywhere.  It can wait for you.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:34:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Excellent Diary - and Boskop (0+ / 0-)

            An informative, entertaining, and very well written diary – a real pleasure to read.
            And it provoked equally intelligent and fascinating comments, so double thanks!

            As to the boskop apples: Do these sound familiar?

            Belle de Boskoop
            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
            Malus-Boskoop organic.jpg
            Origin     Boskoop, Netherlands, 1856

            The Belle de Boskoop is a variety of apple which, as its name suggests, originated in Boskoop, the Netherlands where it began as a chance seedling in 1856.

            There are many variants: Boskoop red, yellow or green. This rustic apple is firm, tart and fragrant. Greenish-gray tinged with red, the apple stands up well to cooking. The Belle de Boskoop contains more than twice the vitamin C than Golden Delicious.[citation needed]

            This apple tree responds well to plenty of water and is very strong but cannot stand frost (fruits tend to burst) or dry soil.

            The cultivar is compatible with most rootstocks, but its pollen quality is poor because it is a triploid. Varieties that can provide compatible pollen for Belle de Boskoop are James Grieve, Melba and Reine des Reinettes.
            The apple stores well after harvest.

            A Southerner in Yankeeland

            To save your life and our country, read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

            by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 01:19:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Lovely, lyrical diary from you, DrLori. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, DrLori, a gilas girl

    No surprise, of course. But it is delightful to read of your passion for your garden and for gardening.
    Now if only some of that would rub off on me!

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:21:41 PM PST

  •  Sounds like you would reel upon seeing my garden (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    riverlover, DrLori

    It is full of so-called weeds. Plants that are fixing nitrogen in conjunction with soil organisms, building biomass for mulch and filling niche requirements for beneficial organisms. Others with deep rooted tap roots that have been demonstrated to do a very good job of pulling nutrients into their biomass. And yet some species were mainly planted for their relative ease at providing a good host for mycorrhizal fungi. We had more "inedible" plants than edible to provide diversity (of many kinds) and regenerate the soil.

    The tomatoes were planted with an eye for some shade in the afternoon so to avoid water stress. Some plants we left in the ground- such as daikon radish- to decompose deep in the soil profile, leaving us with a good 6+ inches of organic matter right where it is needed. And still others were left to live their full biannual life cycle- yielding us with beautiful flowers that feed a very wide range of beneficials, seeds, and a catch crop for so-called pests. When we see pests, we don't go to Google to find out how to kill it, but rather- what it is and what eats it.

    Then we make sure that the niche requirements for the predators are met so they can keep the population in check. We make sure that there is a wonderful diversity through the structure above and below ground. Diversity throughout the year in terms of nectar and pollen available. And always, always, always something growing. Even if it is something abhorrent like dead nettle in March. Those early flowers do wonders in early spring for the insect (and therefore, bird and frog) populations.

    Our garden, my gardens, are what most people consider to be the opposite of a "good garden." And I love it. I love that it works with natural functions and gets better every year without much effort beyond establishment. I love the diversity, I love the feeling of discovering something new- hearing a new sound from a new frog species. Or seeing the colors of a new dragonfly as they patrol the garden, landing by our small ponds for a rest.

    I love that it freaks people out at first, but after a few minutes of explanation it all comes together. It isn't "pretty" in the old fashioned sense, but it is beautiful.

    •  I think I'd love your garden. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't do the old-school straight rows and staked tomatoes.

      Getting better at companion planting.  Thank you for putting your website in your sig line.  I'm going to learn a lot from you.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:44:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many apologies that I was not around last night. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, Mayfly, Stripe

    Time for confession: I had chemo yesterday and by 8:00 east coast time, I was officially Done.

    Probably shouldn't have posted the diary on a chemo day, but I felt okay at the time, and it was ready.  That won't happen again.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:45:38 AM PST

  •  Colonial Food Theft (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, DrLori

    This would happen when the family left for a funeral and someone would ransack the smokehouse, stealing what amounted to a large part of the family's food supply and wealth.  Imagine the impact of losing a dozen large hams!

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:31:33 AM PST

    •  I think it was in Tom Sawyer that the distinction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      was made between "hooking" and "stealing."  Taking a cooling pie from the window sill was "hooking."  But taking a ham from the smokehouse was "stealing."

      The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

      by Mayfly on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:43:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It was considered a hanging offense (0+ / 0-)

      at least in this part of the woods. ;)

      I can see where this would be a huge problem on the frontier, or any place where houses were isolated and neighbors couldn't look after each other.

      I believe, though, it was also a rare occurrence before the 20th century, (actually, before automobiles became common).  Since everyone knew everyone else and no one got far on foot or horseback...theft would be a bit tricky.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:04:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hello DrLori. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, DrLori

    Such a lovely story telling how you missed your childhood garden at the begining. At a time when so much hunger is affecting many it was nice to read the interesting parts of your childhood, when you thought of garden work as punishment.

    I see today how you love gardening which is admirable. I am glad to have read your story.

    I am really touched about your confession though. I really hope that all of your chemo sessions are safe and that you can somehow return to your gardens...even in winter to clean what the weather has not.

    Thank you DrLori.

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:36:14 AM PST

    •  Thank you so much. I forget (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stripe, sillia

      who I've told and who I haven't, but you shouldn't have any anxiety about my chemo.  I'm a chronic patient and my chemotherapy keeps me chronic.  

      It's like this, if I can use a metaphor.  Imagine a house near a river.  There's a flood.  The homeowner had advance warning and sandbagged around the house, so essentially there's a pond of flood water and a house in the middle of it, kept dry by the sandbags and a sump pump that continually siphons the water out of the basement.  As long as the sandbags and sump pump hold up, the house stays dry.

      My chemo is the sandbags and sump pump.  As long as they work, my cancer stays in check, and I keep a reasonably normal life.  Twelve hours of sleep gets me through the worst of the side effects, and I'm usually back to normal the next day.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:09:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dang, DrLori. I can`t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even imagine how strong willed you are to compare your chemo treatments with sand bags.

        But it does not surprise me. Ever since we started interacting here at Daily Kos I knew you were someone very special in every sense of my world.

        Sand bags and sump pump?, hmm I don`t know. But I admire the heck out of you for your strength.

        Thank you so much DrLori for being you.

        And thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment.

        Old men tell same old stories

        by Ole Texan on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 10:33:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My neighbor, and old Repub (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, DrLori, Stripe

    racist homophobic sweetheart, has a Dahlia patch  by his front steps. And a kick ass, feed the family and the 'hood garden.
    I call him a sweetheart because he's easily persuadable about his entrenched beliefs when gently confronted.
    He stopped by my brothers garden one day, and after gazing for some minutes at my bro's giant beets, cleared his throat and said softly "I guess my beets didn't do so good."
    Gardening, a way of life. Sometimes I feel I'll go insane if I don't get dirt under my fingernails.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:17:53 AM PST

    •  Did you tell him that it's all about the variety? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm thinking of the beet cultivar called Ox-heart.  What it lacks in flavor it more than makes up for in size.

      But I think I'd keep him humble, if it were me.  

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:11:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure what variety each had. (0+ / 0-)

        But I agree, it's good to be humbled from time to time. We may have talked about organic vs chemical gardens. Ours is organic, his chemical. Zing!

        Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

        by emmasnacker on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:02:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a town kid... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, DrLori, sillia

    we only had the smallest of gardens ourselves.  But the famers used to come into town and sell their produce directly to my grandmothers (at their door).  So we had all the pleasures of fresh vegetables with none of the work.

    While I don't mind dirt, I have the strange affliction for a Southern girl that I can't abide pests; I'm allergic to nearly every kind of insect you could imagine.  That, and being taken out of the class of property owner by the declining middle class economy and unstable brain chemistry means I haven't the wherewithall to garden.

    But I do miss the work of snapping beans and preparing vegetables for canning.  And the one item from my childhood I wish I could grow and enjoy: blackberries.

    They grew wild on the hillsides and mountaintops and we used to pick and eat 'em til we had bellyaches.  That's a sensation I'd love to recapture.  The ones you buy in the grocery store just don't cut it for that.

    Thanks for the terrific diary and the invitations to ponder.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:07:32 AM PST

  •  Braaaavo! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for this. I share many of your thoughts and feelings about (veggie) gardening. My neighbors used to snort and giggle at me out in 85-degree heat and 110% humidity during the growing season. They stopped laughing about 5 years ago (hint, hint) and now want pointers on how to do it themselves. One was aghast when they asked me how many tomato plants could be grown in a 5-gallon bucket; "One," I said, "if you're lucky." LOL

    •  Should have told him, "As many as (0+ / 0-)

      you can fit" and the laugh all season.  They have things called "Patio Tomatoes" for that reason.

      I've seen some folks in town turning their yards into vegetable gardens.  Their toney neighbors are scandalized, but not so scandalized, I've heard, that they decline the occasional ear of corn.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:26:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  containers! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the rurally challenged.  with some resourcefulness, you can find candidates cheaply.  we're hoping to snowbird it to Mexico and beyond when we retire, and this will be the best way we can keep in touch with the feel of dirt in a rented place.

    •  Great plan. It's amazing (0+ / 0-)

      what you can get out of a set of containers if you've got a little advance planning.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:26:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The 80's were the last time I lived somewhere (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    where I had some space and the go ahead to have a garden. I had some exotic stuff. I actually managed to grow okra in Rhode Island which is a pretty good trick.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 01:02:44 PM PST

    •  Soul of Soil (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RhodeIslandAspie, DrLori, sillia

      The last week of October, planted peas, garlic and lettuce seedlings which have now sprouted and in containers with row covers  It's Northern California and we have a northern Maritime climate and are able to grow limited veggies year round.  The garden though has been put to bed and all pruning done in prepartion for the rains that hopefully, fingers crossed, will happen in December.
      Am now three weeks away from completing my course in sustainable gardening and composting.  The most enjoyable book, besides, "Farmer Jane" was the Soul of Soil.  It was a step by step book with a philosophy that healthly plants begin with a healthly soil.  Feed the soil healthy orgainic things, then the resulting food will be equally healthy along with those who eat it.
      Our text book, "Golden Gate Gardening" by Pam Peirce, who taught part of our course is a great primer for urban Bay area gardeners,  opps urban farmers", who like me believe that small sustainable gardeners and farmers, along with interest in growing sustainable orgainic food, is the only solution to saving the planet.

      My class of 28 will go on to start school gardens, teach classes in organic composting/worm bins, help set up community gardens to teach others how to grow veggies in the coming year.  I think people are getting tired of listening to politicians who pay lip service to improving the planet and our food system.    

      Read "The soul of soil" or better yet take a sustainable gardening class or get involved with local Farmers Markets.  
      Thank you for the diary.

      •  I'd like to be able to afford to make a move, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        sometime in the near future where I can get my hands into some nice humusy soil, full of squirmy earthworms, and rotting organic material, and grow some really nice veggies. Maybe even keep some bees.

        Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

        by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:22:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can you do containers right now? (0+ / 0-)

          A bit of floor or shelf and a southern-ish exposure, and you can get started now.  

          If you could grow okra in RI, you can do anything.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:35:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've thought about it. (0+ / 0-)

            I live in an urban area, and there are some tall buildings that block the sun. Got a house right across my narrow driveway that blocks the southern exposure. About all I could do would be some herbs maybe. I don't really want to leave anytime soon, because the rent is reasonable, and I've got a great landlord.

            Speaking of okra - A little known secret of RI is that it's got some of the warmest weather in all of New England, comparatively speaking. So, if you treat Okra like you treat tomatoes - starting it indoors, you can get great results - as long as you don't get an abnormally cool or cloudy summer.

            Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

            by RhodeIslandAspie on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:47:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and the recommended books.  I'll check them out.

        We've got 70 acres of extremely fertile soil, and the dirt outside the calf barn, where manure has been rotting for 25 years, is black gold.   I have an ambition that, once we're both retired and the house restoration is finished, we'll start an organic herb farm.  And veggies.

        Good luck to your class.  You're going to save the world, one garden at a time.

        "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

        by DrLori on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:33:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love your garden. There's something you get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from digging in the dirt and being rewarded with yummyness.

    About kale, look up kale chips online.   It is kale, washed, dried with stem and major ribs cut out.   Dry it in the oven--can't remember details, I do it rarely enough that I always have to look it up.

    lightly sprinkled with salt--really nice crunchy snack   :)

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:14:19 PM PST

  •  Best diary ever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you DrLori, you've captured my feelings about gardening. I live on a tiny suburban lot in Phx and almost every square inch of the back yard has been planted or is about to be. Took me a few years to get the hang of desert gardening after living in New England. This is the first year I've achieved a 12-month garden, even thru the hottest summer on record. I still have eggplant, 3 kinds of chiles, herbs and onions, and new plantings of winter veggies like kale, mesclun, arugula, etc. Also have Tepary beans flowering, these are a Native southwestern species of dried beans. A pound of garlic sets coming up. I also save the bottoms of all the leeks and scallions that I use in cooking. I soak them overnight, stick them anywhere I can find room and another plant grows.
    Really loved this diary!

  •  when I worked as a macrobiotic cook for a year (0+ / 0-)

    I spent Thursdays working in a local organic garden in exchange for more produce than two people could consume. That was a perk but the real benefit was my time spent doing basic things like digging potatoes, picking beans or washing carrots. I did not grow up gardening and so it was like a different place and time being in Rose's Garden. On my own I was not capable of making a garden like that, so it was a privilege just to participate in someone's bigger endeavor, and to have the experience of picking it without all the pain and responsibility of being in charge. No part of my land gets sun for more than 5 hours in a row, so I have lots of peonies and not much else, here in the woods.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 04:52:16 AM PST

  •  Thanks, great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been a vegetable gardener for around 30 years, and I like to try to grow long range food, not  just salad stuff. Potatoes, squash, things that keep. Got part of my garage partitioned off for a reasonably good root cellar and finally learned how to keep potatoes most of the winter.

    I built a solar food dryer (also have an electric one) for things like peppers, corn, stuff you can throw into soups and casseroles.

    Unfortunately I have been too sick to garden for the last couple of years and it's like part of me is missing. My Lyme treatment has been hard, plus I have to get over an aversion to being outside where the ticks are...I have a long ways to go to get my joy of gardening back.

    The last five years or so that I gardened, I used the Ruth Stout hay mulch system. Previously I had raised beds that took a lot of digging. WOW, was that mulched garden fabulous! It makes for soft, rich, fertile soil. By the third year, I had to start reducing my plantings because everything produced so much more! It isn't really "less work," in the sense that you do need to keep fussing at it to keep the hay thick enough everywhere, but it's LIGHT work, more just paying attention to things than labor.

    Where in the Constitution does it say: "...on behalf of corporate interests" ???

    by sillia on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 07:13:19 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site