When I was younger, my grandparents had a garden in their yard. This garden contained everything fruit and vegetable a little kid could think of – raspberries, grapes, string beans, tomatoes, peppers, and so much more. Whenever we visited my brother and I were begrudgingly sent to the garden to pick whatever was in season; our harvest would then be prepared for lunch and/or dinner. I especially remember the string beans; vines growing straight up to the sky, beans swaying in the breeze ready for snacking. So during “bean season” my brother and I would trudge out there with our baskets and pick the vegetables until beans burst over the brim. We would then drag the filled baskets to a picnic table and slowly snap the ends off of each bean. Back then, it wasn’t the most enjoyable chore…there were definitely many other things a little kid would want to do outside. But we did it every season. It was our job…the little farmers of the family.
My immediate family also tilled up a part of our yard to grow fresh vegetables. The cucumbers were HUGE; I used to think radioactive goo made them grow to be that big (I was a bit of a comic book nerd haha)! However, over the years our “radioactive” garden became overgrown with weeds as we got swept up in our busy lives. We were wrapped up in the horrible thought process that produce was more convenient to buy instead of grow.
A few years ago my grandparents stopped working in their garden. It just wasn’t practical to bend over to plant seeds with hip pains. It was a sad change in their lifestyle, but it made me realize that I actually cared about home grown produce. When I look back at gardening at my grandparents’ house, I realize how harvesting produce helped establish a personal connection to food that has lasted throughout my life. It’s so simple – plant a seed, watch it grow, and then harvest its bounty. Remembering this relationship helped encourage me to rebuild the family garden…bigger and better than ever before.
I didn’t want to plant too much and be overwhelmed with upkeep, so I stuck with a few of our household basics. I planted oregano, rosemary, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes in the pots. In the raised vegetable beds, I’m growing watermelon, zucchini, several kinds of tomatoes, and basil. I also rescued two peach and nectarine trees from the clearance section of a nursery (and I’m proud to report that they have finally come back to life!). I definitely have more room for additional vegetables, so who knows, I might plant some more soon.
Although it is still early in the season to harvest most of the produce I’ve planted, it’s already been an exciting and rewarding process. Every time I use any of my fresh herbs, there is a deep routed sense of satisfaction as well as nostalgia. Not only just carrying on my grandparents’ tradition, but also humanities’. From the earth, to mouth. The way it should be!