The Garden

My father always had a garden. I can never remember a year that he didn’t. He always seemed to find a plot even when we lived in the house with someone else. They always appreciated the vegetables he provided in exchange for his use of the garden plot. The vegetables were very important to our food supply but he probably would have had a garden anyway. He was from a large family with 11 brothers and sisters who had learned to depend on a garden for adequate food. Each year in early spring he would hire someone with a mule to plow up the available plot. Then he used a small push plow to prepare the soil for the plants and seeds. He always had tomatoes, okra, peppers, watermelons, cantaloupes, bush beans, and pole beans. He had a method of staking the pole beans which was somewhat unique. He ran wire down the row from a post about five feet high to a post at the other end of the row. Then he ran twine up and down from boards on the ground around the wire from one end of the row to the other. The pole beans had runners that would climb up the twine. The end result was he could pick them from a standing position. One summer watermelons came up from where we had discarded the rinds and seeds. The vines ran up a fence and started making melons, He built a shelf for the melons to rest on while they grew very large. This became the conversation of the neighborhood. In the fall Dad would remove all of the dead plants and sow turnip seeds over the whole plot that would provide turnip greens and turnips for most of the winter months. In later years when we had our own home he added a flower garden. He planted several types but his prize flowers were dahlias which he entered in the Fayette County Fair each year.