Food and gardening

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I keep thinking of a comment made by one of my aunts when they were talking about life back in the Carolinas. She said that they hardly had to go to the store for food, because the garden fed them. In the 50s and 60s my grandparents were sharecroppers, and for a short while my great-grandfather, Grandpa Kelly, lived with the family. (Great) Grandpa Kelly had a garden, and it apparently fed the family which consisted of three adults and 5 kids. Kelly had a talent for growing food and after he passed the garden wasn't as productive. You'd think my grandparents being farmers would do well with a garden but they were growing tobacco and cotton, not food.

Fast forwarding to today, none of the 5 kids, who are now some form of retired (fully, semi-, and 'we refer to it as the "R" word') and none of them farm or even have a garden. My mom did make an effort for a few years with a backyard garden but has no interest now. My male cousins as far as I know are too sophisticated and urbane for gardening. Of the girls, only my sister and I only have access to any dirt. I have my container garden and tiny front yard which currently is still feral. My sister recently planted some citrus trees, lime and Meyer lemon in her front yard. I don't know if that counts.

I'm sure Grandpa Kelly had access to more land to grow than I. But then I don't need to feed 8 people. Also I'm not out in the country and can wander over to the Giant, Safeway or Timor or the farmers market to buy those things I have had trouble growing. I'm not good with such veggies as squash (squash borers), beets (can't get a decent bulb), melons, enough strawberries, enough blueberries, enough sweet lettuces, potatoes (trying new this year), garlic, enough shallots, and other things I don't have the yard space, sun or talent. Also I have a decent salary and can afford to buy those things I cannot grow or raise.

I got through 2 of Michael Pollan's books and I believe in one he encourages people to have a garden. My backyard is nothing but concrete but I have a garden. I remember early on some woman from the DC Extension Service took a look at my front yard and doubted I could grow anything. Last year that front yard yielded a cucumber and several tomatoes that the squirrels ran off with, and cuke-melon things and tomatoes that I ate or canned. Gardening can be very rewarding. Having fresh herbs for a pasta dish or some other recipe is a big reason. Remembering that food comes from the land and not manufactured is a plus too.

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