By: Stephanie Aldrich
When I was growing up in rural Wallis, Texas food didn’t come from the grocery store in the summer.
What my grandmother called her garden was really more of a large field with rows plowed for her tomatoes, potatoes, squashes, beans, pickling cucumbers, dill and cabbage. She was happy to share her bounty, so we made weekly trips to pick just what we needed. If you didn’t show up she’d call since “they couldn’t possibly eat everything before it went bad.”
I remember sitting down in the corn field with my mother and sister, filling up large grocery sacks with corn, shucking it while we were still outside and then freezing the ears so we could get a taste of golden summer in February.
But when my husband, David, and I decided to start a small raised bed garden, we went into it with the thought that even one piece of produce was more than what we had before.
A trip to Home Depot for a few lumber boards, soil and seeds gave us what we needed to start a raised bed garden in the backyard.
As my 5-year-old and 21-month-old daughters helped put in the seeds, they had looks as if to ask: What will come out of this little 3’x6′ box of dirt?
We crammed alot of seeds into that box. Mostly cucumbers since that was David’s favorite.
Each day we watered and watched. And one day when I pulled Natalie away from the Wii to check on the box, she was actually more excited to see the beginnings of little green plants. And then came the cucumbers. We made sure the girls got the first picks.
David cut them that night and sprinkled a little salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, “just the way his West Virginia grandfather fixed ’em.”
In the end we feasted on about two dozen cucumbers and learned the size we should pick them so they’d taste the best. A few hiding underneath the leaves of green beans weren’t noticed until they were enormous, and had a vinegar taste.
The green beans made a one-time dinner appearance, just a small tasting for everyone that night. And I’ll know next year that yes, mid-June is too late to start tomatoes from seed.
Grandma would have told me that.