When I was a little girl, my mom had a beautiful garden and a big peach tree. I remember eating fresh vegetables and being so excited to try our home-grown corn (see it in the corner of the picture below?!).
Our garden in the early 80’s:
A picture of our backyard garden in the early 80’s
It’s kind of funny, because in posting the picture of my childhood garden, I noticed my mom planted marigolds with the plants. That’s a tradition I’ve kept alive. Every year I get several flats of marigolds along with the various veggies and plant them together. Marigolds supposedly keep away all sorts of nasty bugs like aphids, nematodes, tomato horn worms, white flies, squash bugs and thrips. Still, even before I knew that, it was just one of the things I copied from my mom without ever realizing I was copying it. I just knew that you had to plant marigolds when you planted a garden. Now I clearly see where I got it from. 🙂
My great-grandparents also had a garden. Every year they would can tomatoes, homemade spaghetti, peaches and more. I remember looking at the jars on the shelves in their garage and thinking of the delicious and beautiful bounty each one held. I miss them so much! I wish I had a jar of my Papa’s spaghetti sauce or even just his recipe. He was quite the Italian cook.
My grandparents also had a garden at different times and so did my Oma and Opa (German grandparents). I grew up around gardens so it comes as no surprise that my dream was to have a garden of my own someday! My husband made that dream come true for me when we moved into our current home. He built raised garden beds and later put in a garden fence with a trellis over the gate when our new puppy decided to turn our garden into his personal buffet and poop area . No thanks Max, I don’t want your natural fertilizer, lol. Now Max is forbidden to enter the garden and has to watch me through the pickets in the fence.
Every year my husband adds in something that makes my garden more practical or beautiful. His next project is to build a big trellis near our compost pile (which is behind a fenced off area of the yard). The trellis will be in front of the compost gate and we are going to grow kiwi vines over it. I am so blessed and so thankful.
This year the garden is doing really well. We are growing lots of different types of tomatoes, different varieties of peppers, mustard greens, collard greens, green onions, yellow zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, cilantro (which turns into coriander), basil, eggplant and artichokes (they are done for the season and need to be replaced as they are 7-8 year old plants).
There is nothing in the world so satisfying as picking a tomato off the vine and eating it in your dinner salad. Store-bought tomatoes don’t even come close in flavor and texture!! I love watching garden plants grow from little seedlings until they are big enough to produce the food that goes onto our table and into our cupboards in canning jars. Otter and I have been enjoying collard & mustard greens for lunch and we had home-grown peppers in our fajitas the other night.
We also have the following fruit trees: Meyer lemon (which is a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange), orange, mandarin orange, 2 different varieties of pomegranates, 2 types of apple, peach, nectarine, pear (not producing yet), apricot, aprium, Santa Rosa plums, Burgundy plums, an unknown variety of plum and 7 grapevines with the following types of grapes: Thompson seedless, Thomcord, Flame seedless and Black Monukka.
My husband recently bought me 4 big containers so we can add southern blueberries to the long list of goodies growing in our yard and we are going to add huckleberries to a shady spot in the back.
I love puttering around the garden in the early morning before it gets hot (it’s been 100+ temps here lately). It’s so peaceful and beautiful. I’m so thankful for all the work my husband put into it so that I could have something I’ve wanted since I was little.
This morning I took some pictures to share here. Just imagine walking through the plants in the quiet, cool morning with the sound of water from the hose and an occasional buzzing from an industrious bee.
Part of my garden in the early morning light.
See those white things on the end of each garden bed? Those have the pipes for the drip irrigation (which is brand new and hasn’t been used yet) going down one side. They are also there for plants to grow up (via netting or strings). My husband made them from some plastic fencing that someone was throwing away. We also have part of the frame from our kids’s old bunk bed leaning across one of the beds. That’s for the cucumber vines, when they get bigger, to grow up and over.
Here are the marigolds in one of the beds. I put them in almost all of the garden beds. Not only are they good for keeping bugs away, they also are pretty and add a bit of merriness. Some of them have already seeded themselves so I’ll have a few extras growing up soon and putting on a cheerful show.
Every year, Otter gets to choose some plants for the garden. This year he chose peppers and this eggplant. I’ve never grown eggplant before, so it should be interesting.
We pick the spicy leaves of the mustard plants and eat them both raw and cooked like greens. Even after they’ve flowered, everything is still edible and pretty tasty. I’m going to harvest the seeds and try to make some homemade mustard!
Yellow zucchini squash:
This is the first year we’ve grown yellow zucchini and it won’t be the last. The zucchinis are such a beautiful lemony yellow. The 2 plants we have are so prolific. I’ve been picking zucchinis just about every other day and they keep cranking out more and more. At this rate, our freezer is really going to be stocked up for awhile!
Our basil is so fragrant. We are looking forward to ripe tomatoes so we can make bruschetta!
A pepper hiding behind leaves:
I don’t remember what type of peppers these are but they have a good pepper flavor but no heat.
A couple green cherry tomatoes:
A baby Honeycrisp apple:
We’ve been battling fire blight with both apple trees. I didn’t even know what that was just a few years ago but it ruined our apple harvest last year by infecting all the newly budded apples and turning them into little apply mummies. This year we sprayed for it, but very late in the season and only once. As soon as fall rolls around I’ll be spraying them religiously and watching for any signs of infection to cut out before it spreads. Hopefully we’ll have it all contained and lots more apples next year.
This is our Santa Rosa plum tree. Every year I turn these plums into jam! We were going to pick them this last weekend, but they are still a bit tart. Maybe this weekend…we’ll see!
“Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”
Even if you only have room for a little container on your porch with a single herb plant, growing something yourself can be so rewarding. It’s something you can enjoy the fruits of after a bit of patience and bit of love and is a great skill to pass on to your children.
Thanks mom for passing on a healthy dose of garden love to me (and for teaching me about marigolds)!