My people grow things. My sweet Memaw’s garden was about an acre and my Granddaddy plowed it with his tractor. He also grew feed and hay for the cattle on his dairy farm, and for the horses he used to work his cattle. Their garden produced so many vegetables that they were able to share with their neighbors and kinfolk and still eat canned goods from it years after they were unable to work therein. My Poppa had a garden from which they ate and preserved homegrown tomatoes in every imaginable fashion. He also grew lots of onions and new potatoes. Have you ever had new potatoes cooked with green beans and flavored with a little bit of bacon? No? You’ve missed a treat. My parents have a productive garden, and when my darling Mother pulls weeds, she hand feeds them to her chickens, which are cooped right next to the garden.
I must confess that I missed out on the gardening wisdom of my grandparents and in fact did not help them out much at all. Such assistance as I gave was grudging. I truly regret this, because I will never get that time or that opportunity back. It is much more difficult to learn practical things from books than it is from enthusiastic practitioners. Also, I can’t help but think that I should have loved them enough to want to work alongside them, even in the heat of the Texas summers. I know they loved me dearly, and probably forgave me even then, but …
Despite this transgression on my part, I nevertheless have grown to appreciate that which I can grow. And if you are considering putting in a garden of any size, even a container garden on your patio or a herb garden on your windowsill, and you’re leaning against the idea, please take the following into consideration:
- Gardening books and seed catalogs are awesome!
- It doesn’t get much more local than your back yard.
- Gardening is great exercise, but it isn’t boring. Plus, with some tasks, you can see results in hours, unlike when you work out at a gym doing mind-numbing cardio.
- Free vitamin D, in a package that your body was created to absorb.
- Free farmer tan!
- Ripe fresh vegetables! Succulent fresh fruit! Fragrant fresh herbs!
- It gives you an opportunity to share food and conversation with your friends and neighbors.
- Although the setup costs can be a little expensive, it can help you save lots of money on groceries.
- It gives you the opportunity to meet other people who grow stuff and do things with their hands (there’s a lot of overlap in those two groups of people).
- And, as the great Guy Clark wrote, “Only two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.“