Cappers Farmer Blogs > Mama Made Me

Garden Lessons

DJThis photo portrays more now than just me as a little one with my father. I can look at the background of this photo and see the tools mom used in raising the garden that is the backdrop. I can see the almost straight rows and the carefully tended plants and wonder – where are the weeds? My garden this year had more weeds than actual veggies, I think! Of course, nothing grew as well this year as it did last year.

Dad and DJ
My dad, Roy Parker and me in front of my mothers garden.

This photo was so many years ago, I do not even remember it. I don’t remember my mother working in the garden then, either. I do remember, however, her making me go out and help her in the garden when I was older. My father had passed away by then, and I was the only help she had. My brother had married and was living a few hundred miles away raising his family, so he was unable to help as he would have liked to. (I am hoping I am correct in that assumption.) As I grew older, I know I didn’t want to, so there may have been an ulterior motive behind his move.

Once school was out, Mama had a small area beside the garage we would go out and dig up. Mama didn’t have a tiller and wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway being almost totally blind. I believe not being able to see well enough to use one made her just a little bit afraid of them. She knew they could hurt you and did not want to take any chances. I, being young and stupid, did not understand why she didn’t just go buy one. Of course, I didn’t understand why we had to grow a garden anyway. Why didn’t she just go to that magical place called the grocery store and buy them! I remember Mama and I with a shovel, digging up the garden plot, pouring this stinky stuff called ‘steer manure’ on it and digging all that under and mixing it up real good, and then taking the big old garden rake and making sure everything was nice and level and smooth and that there were no big dirt clods or rocks. Then she would take the sprinkler and water it down real good for about an hour. And then it would sit. I was so glad we didn’t have to do anything in that garden again for a few days.

Those days moved way too quickly, though, and then we were back out there. This time she would mark the rows with twine so they were nice and straight. Then we got to run a tiny little ditch and put the seeds into the ground. I always liked that part because it meant I was going to have some really sweet carrots and the juiciest tomatoes in the world to snack on when they finally got big enough to start producing. And beets! Mama made the best pickled beets in the world! I am biased, I know. Everybody’s mother makes the best of whatever it is that is being discussed. That’s probably the best part of it all.

Now, my mother and I were both very stubborn, and I remember one year I decided I wanted her to plant some peas and some green beans, too. She did not want to. As much work as she did getting that little tiny garden area ready for planting, and she wouldn’t plant peas or beans because it was ‘too much work’ putting up the posts and string for the peas and beans to climb on. Go figure! Anyway, I finally convinced her to plant some green beans. But, “they had to be bush beans,” she said. I didn’t care as long as we could grow some beans. I was ecstatic. We were going to grow some beans! And they tasted so much better than the ones from the grocery store. That is a lesson I have learned many times over through the years.

Now, I can’t wait until spring so I can start getting ready for that magic time called planting season. I still do not have a tiller, but that is coming. This year my husband (who has never planted a garden in his life) and I shared space with my cousins about 40 miles away. They have the tiller and the garden space, and we help with the watering and the planting and the weeding, and we share what we get. And it all tastes better than what you buy in the grocery store!