Monday, June 25, 2012

My First Garden






As a grandmother I want to introduce  my little Sweetpea Lea to gardening .  When she comes to mawmaw's house she loves to touch the flowers and vegetables and watch the butterflies and bees.  She's a picky eater when it comes to veggies as are many her age.  I've heard young mothers say that french fries were the only food their toddler would eat.    Of course things were so different in my generation.

Beginning at the age of 10 it was my duty, as well as my two sisters, to tend to the vegetable garden.  Watching our food grow was a satisfying experience.  We would plant green onions, cabbage, turnip greens, corn, peas, beans,sweet peppers, cucumbers,  tomatoes, beets, carrots, squash, strawberies and collard greens.   We grew peanuts and corn in large quantities in  a separate field , some to eat and some to sell .  Anyone who has a large vegetable garden knows that its a lot of work to keep up.

 I  remember picking a ripe sweet pepper or tomato off the vine, rub it off on my shirt, putting it in a biscuit and eating it for a snack.  We didn't use chemicals even back then and were organic before it became a trend . 

As we girls had to prepare meals for our widowed Father and ourselves all the vegetables we grew went from garden to table .  We ate very little red meat, if any, and raised our own chickens for both meat and eggs.   We drank milk right from the cow  .  The only things we bought from a grocery store were flour , cornmeal and  lard in bulk .  We churned our own butter and made buttermilk as well.   When the vegetables were ripe, the real work began and I can recall many summer days spent in harvesting and canning.  It was a lot of work but a healthy lifestyle and to this day I still prefer vegetables to meat.

When I get my own house here in North Carolina I will make a little garden for my Lea so that she can learn how food is grown and perhaps come to love vegetables as much as I do.  I was happy to read that there are many young families these days turning to organic farming as  a business and one expert said that farming will be the next big thing.  It's refreshing to see the renewed interest in vegetable gardening  and it's my hope that more parents will introduce their children to it .















Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Flowery Trees and Shrubs of Summer

Spring and Fall are the main gardening seasons here in North Carolina, with summer often taking a backseat.  I have, however,  observed many showy trees and shrubs blooming in nearby public and private gardens  this month .  Some I know from my youth in Alabama  such as  the Mimosa or silk tree and the Southern magnolia .  I saw a stunning blue flowering shrub that I had never seen before and managed to get its name.  If you've never seen vitex you're in for some real eye candy. 


                                              Vitex is a very showy tree/shrub that blooms in June.

I've also observed some late blooming azaleas and rhododenrons as well as the familiar St. John's wort.  June of course is resplendent with roses of all kinds.

Some wise gardeners have a few of my favorite Abelia shrubs.  And of course, Hydrangeas of all colors and cultivars define so many Southern gardens .

Lagerstroemia indica, or Crape Myrtle  ( often referred to as the " Southern lilac " ) has begun its long show of colorful flowers in reds, pinks, white and lavender.

                                                                 
                                                               Abelia is a long-blooming evergreen shrub.


Lagerstroemia ' burgundy cotton ' - a gorgeous Crape Myrtle that grows 10-15 feet tall.  I love the color on this one.

I know that Mimosas are undesirable because of their invasiness but according to recent reports the burgundy colored cultivar is not. 

                  
  Albizia julibrissin  'summer chocolate '  Its pink blooms are stunning against the burgundy foliage.  We Southerners have fond childhood memories of these trees that were present in almost every yard.

The secret to gardening in the summer in the South is to rise early to do your chores before the heat sets in , or wait until evening with it cools a bit.

I just can't imagine not gardening in the summer and when I get my own garden in the near future I will certainly include a lot of color for this flowery season.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ain't Nothing in This World That I Like Better .....




Drumroll, please !  Back on April 10, 2012 I had the audacity to plant " Better Boy " tomato and today it has made me the Tomato Queen of the Neighborhood  when it turned bright red.  The less confident neighbors have just recently set out their tomato plants.



You may have read recently on The Grumpy Gardener blog that there are actually those among us that are 'mater haters. '  There are more of them than you think. Previously, I'd never even heard, much less imagined that there were people that actually hated maters.   It is a phobia known as lycopersicoaphobia, for which there is no cure.   I believe that the movie ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES might have actually been made by one of these mater haters to try to scare the rest of us.  I'm thinking of starting my own support group called Maters Matter.


So in honor of this auspicious occasion we will listen to a love song performed by none other than John Denver. It is aptly titled HOMEGROWN TOMATOES.  Take it away, John . Johnny Tomatoseed.

   " Aint nothing in this world that I like better ...than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes .  Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes what would life be without homegrown tomatoes ? "


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