I am blessed to have an overflowing bank of rich memories from my childhood. Among my favorites are the countless days I spent with Matt's family. Two of Matt's sisters, Diana and Crystal, were my sister's and my best friends throughout our childhood.
It was always fun having Diana and Crystal over to play at our house, but it was even more fun to go to their house, especially when we got to sleep over. Because their family had 8 kids, there were always enough players for any game we wanted to play, indoors or out. Our very favorite game was something we called Lost Kids. We were always orphans, lost in the woods, starving to death, and being pursued by the evil orphan keeper. We had forts in the woods, secret hiding places, and elaborate escape plans. The game was best when Matt would join in and play the role of the orphan keeper. That brought a new element of angst and reality to the game. To solve our starvation problem, Diana's mom, Auntie Kathie (who is now my wonderful MIL) let us help ourselves to produce from her big, beautiful garden. We were allowed to pick and eat anything but the carrots and artichokes. This poor, starving orphan ate many a bean, pea, cucumber, and tomato out of that heavenly garden. Eating that kind of produce spoils you to supermarket produce. My husband was lucky enough to grow up eating homegrown fruits and veggies. I clearly remember how delicious it was.
In the nearly 11 years that Matt and I have been married, we have always talked about planting a garden. We lived in 5 different houses in California. In those homes, we couldn't have a garden. Two of the homes had too many deer around. One was an upstairs apartment with no direct sun on the patio. The other two we didn't live in long enough. In Little Rock, our yard was full of oak trees and full of rocks. We talked about trying box gardening there, but never were willing to part with the money it would have required to build and fill the boxes. Now we live in a wonderful home on the edge of the country. When our landlord lived here, he had a flourishing vegetable garden in the back yard. When he saw the work Matt has done to make the yard here beautiful, he encouraged us to plant a garden, too. He showed us where he put in special soil, and gave us permission to rip out the sod there for our garden! Finally, we get to have the garden we have always wanted!
Snapper and I made a few trips to Lowe's and the local garden shop to purchase seeds and starter trays. Pepper helped match the seed packets with the label stakes while I planted the seeds in the starter trays. He was so excited to help!
First thing every morning the kids run outside to the patio to check the progress of the seeds. On the third day after planting, this is what Pepper found. He was only halfway dressed when he remembered the garden and bolted for the patio. Ha ha!
By last Saturday, most of the seeds had sprouted. Since this coming weekend is filled up with a major swim meet, Matt rented a rototiller on Saturday morning. It was a family effort, getting our 400 square foot garden plot ready! Matt did the tilling, with some "help" from Pepper. I raked out the chunks of sod. Snapper and Pepper came behind me and picked up the piles of sod and weeds and put them in our garden waste bin. Then I raked again to level the ground.
It was a major job, let me tell you! By the time we were finished, Matt and I were both aching all over and had several blisters on our hands. Pepper and Snapper were worn out, too. But the end result is very exciting, and full of promise. I can hardly wait to get our seedlings into the ground so they can start growing and producing!
Pepper and I planted the seeds in their trays one week ago. Here's how they look today!
Our garden list is nice and deep. We planted: sweet corn, Rocky Top lettuce, green leaf lettuce, collards, spinach, bell peppers, green onions, cucumbers, pickle cucumbers, Rutgers tomatoes, Yellow Bell tomatoes, Topaz tomatoes, winter squash, butter squash, zucchini, green beans, pole beans, sugar snap peas, pumpkins, honeydew melon, watermelon, okra, basil, oregano, mint, chives, catnip, and a fun variety of flowers.
What in the world are we going to do with all that produce? That's easy...we're going to eat it! I plan on trying my hand at making dill pickles this summer, as well as canning tomatoes and beans. I'm sure there is still going to be a surplus. That's easy, too. I know of 3 single moms and a young family who are struggling in this economy. I have already offered to share our produce with them. If it will grow easily in our garden, then I am happy to share it. I am thrilled we can be a blessing to others in this way.