I grew up listening to the “garden conversation”. Neighbors talking to each other about their vegetable gardens and tobacco crops. They listened and contributed, somewhat equally. They all seemed to be in the same boat of plowing, planting, weeding, praying for rain and trying to get something to grow. They conversed. If they learned something useful, they shared it. It was a simple conversation, one I could understand even as a child.
When I grew up and moved away from the small town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina around 1976, I was shocked at how few people talked about gardens. It was kinda like breast feeding and Lamaze back in the day. It just wasn’t fashionable and it certainly wasn’t done in the city.
I gardened any way. No matter where I was. I remember having a little tiny garden in a patch of yard of a duplex in downtown Charlotte. It was an amazing garden and I grew everything from seed. I was all of 18 years old and I felt so grown up because now, I could talk about my garden, except nobody cared. They thought I was a hill billy from outer space. I also like to sew and decorate and cook a little.
The women’s movement was in full swing and here I was acting like an advertisement for home economics 101.
Somewhere along the line I started hearing bits & pieces of the garden conversation. I started seeing more garden supplies at the stores and they were pretty and interesting and cool.
It was no longer always friendly. It became competitive, like, I know more than you do.
Sometimes I even hesitate to even bring up the subject and I love to talk about gardening. It usually happens when talking to someone who has done far more research and reading about gardening than actually doing the work. They are quite knowledgeable and passionate and can tell you exactly what to do, but haven’t gotten down and dirty.
It takes all the fun out of it. It makes things seem more complicated and intimidating. I usually just close my month and listen in amazement. I mean if it is that important for someone to be an authority on the subject, then who am I to take that away?
Then comes the whole organic movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love organic and really strive for it 100%. But please don’t shun me if I don’t sterilize my soil and make compost tea.
Next comes Monsanto and genetically modified seeds, now this is when things really take a turn down ugly street…
and after that seeds that had been passed down for generations had new names like heirloom and open pollinated.
No wonder people who read and study this stuff to death never garden, they have made a simple thing too complicated.
I will be the first to tell you, I am no expert. Every garden I have established has been different. Different regions, different soil, just different. It really takes time to enrich your soil and learns what grows best and more importantly what taste good and what is worth the effort.
And it is important to mention that I am a weekend gardener. Most of my adult life I have worked a full time job and gardened after work and on the weekends. That makes a BIG difference in how you garden because you have limited time. Not only is everyone’s soil different, their situation, skill level and how much time and stamina they have really varies. There have been many seasons where I just had a couple of tomato plants growing somewhere and that was all I could do.
I believe there is a way to garden for most everyone that has the desire to do so. Back when I was coming up, a “picturesque” garden was one with perfectly straight rows and flourishing plants with no weeds. Today gardens can be so creative and beautiful and there are so many materials available to help you be successful. Oh and really cool hip boots.
I know one thing, this time of year, people flock to the seed and plant aisle. It’s like in our genes to want to plant & grow. They load their carts up with peat moss and garden soil and fertilizer…
It makes us happy and gives us something productive to think about and work on and talk about.
I like to keep it simple and fun. It is hard work, but it is healthy work.
Now it’s your turn. Let’s have a garden conversation! Tell us about your garden…