Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Family History: Gardening in the Genes

I remember peeling potatoes in my apartment in college and having one of my roommates be absolutely amazed at the potato peeler. 



"What is that?! I've never seen one before!  That looks so much easier than using a knife!  I've got to call my mom and tell her about this!"

I was dumbstruck.  Doesn't everyone have and use a potato peeler?

Often, what seems normal and ordinary to one, is unique and novel to another.  Planting a garden might be foreign to some, but I'm part of a legacy of growers.

My mom's parents farmed on 100 acres, growing fruit trees and vegetables, as well as raising cattle, pigs, and chickens.  When Grandpa and Grandma moved to town, one of the first things Grandpa did was establish a garden area in the backyard.

My dad's parents lived in the mountains, where the growing season wasn't that long.  Never one to be dissuaded, Grandpa figured out a way to extend the harvest.  He built a greenhouse, but not just any greenhouse.  He built an underground greenhouseThe dirt surrounding the walls kept the greenhouse well-insulated, and Grandpa harvested tomatoes well into the fall, after any other tomatoes in the area had long-since died.

Grandpa was not a small man.  Those are some monstrous tomato plants!
 
My parents have always had a garden, too, though theirs is above ground, and surrounded by a tall fence to keep out the deer. The garden produces enough to feed a small army, and since Mom can't stand for any food to go to waste, friends and neighbors are often blessed with the excess produce.  Mom's freezer and cupboards are always full, though if I lived closer, she would probably run short of raspberry jam. 

My garden isn't nearly as impressive as any of those gardens, but I've always felt driven to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Gardening--it's in the genes.

What is something your parents and grandparents did that you do, too?

Thanks for gardens, parents, and grandparents.


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8 comments:

  1. I have no gardening ancestors that I know of. I do have my Aunt Sissy who wasn't really related to me but was such an inspiration to me when I was young. She grew an amazing garden and preserved everything for winter eats. I loved spending time with her and my best childhood memories are of her kitchen. My poor mother by contrast couldn't boil water and I learned to cook so we both wouldn't starve!

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  2. I grew up peeling potatoes with a paring knife and still use one today. At home, we used the veggie peeler for carrots and that's all.

    My mother had a HUGE garden when I was young, and she canned everything for winter use. The cellar was packed with canned tomatoes, tomato juice, beans, carrots, corn, beets, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, jams and jellies, syrup, pickles, as well as whole potatoes, winter squash, plums, apples, applesauce, etc. It was a lot of work, but we didn't spend much on groceries to feed our large family.

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  3. Love the photo of your Grandpa....my Auntie's and Grandma's farm was always like that...they really had green thumbs! I didn't pick up any other their fabulous growing skills but I my Grandma always made homemade bread and she always made the sign of the cross at the bottom of the loaf before slicing the first slice....I still do that today. The bread isn't blessed otherwise. Have a wonderful evening!

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  4. How blessed you are to have had grandparents around and to experience watching veggies grow through their efforts! Even better, you have heritage photos.We were not taught to can, bake or sew but I taught some of these things to myself as an adult. Growing up we ate potatoes but used a knife to peel them if they were to be mashed, otherwise we ate the skins when they were baked. Living in So Ca there is little room for a vegetable garden because the yards are so small. I was thinking it would be fun to try growing a 'salsa' garden in a big pot.Have a lovely weekend :)

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  5. The only gardening in my family was after I was out of the house. My stepdad liked to garden, so he and my mom had one for a few years. She canned some things, but all I know for sure is apples. Fortunately, I got all of her canning supplies when we moved to the farm.
    My grandma about flipped when she heard I was canning. She and her sisters helped her mom can hundreds of jars of fruit and veggies every year, then scrubbed the kitchen afterwards. It would have been fine, except my grandma was terribly offended when her mom (my great-grandma) would tell people how many jars she canned without giving her daughters credit. My grandma refused to can a single jar once she moved out on her own.

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  6. We always used the peeler for carrots. It was many years later that I discovered you can also use it for potatoes and other vegetables. Why I didn't figure it out earlier--I have no idea!

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  7. Since my parents were divorced when I was still pretty little, a few years later my mom remarried; so I ended up with 3 sets of grandparents. Two sets of grands were big gardeners. Veggies and flowers. I learned gardening and sewing from my different grandma's and my mom (sewing too). I can spaghetti sauce, applesauce (we love the chunky style like my grandma made), green beans, veggie soup, fruit, pickled beets, and various jams etc... We also dry fruits too, and make fruit leathers. My mom did canning from what I understand when I was little; but then had to go to work and didn't have/take the time to do it after that.
    My folks have some friends who have 14 children (or maybe more)with such a large family they used commercial grade pots/pans to cook in. One of the daughters moved back east somewhere to nanny for a family. She was shown the kitchen and when she saw the pots/pans; she later called her mom and said, "mom you ought to see the "cute little" pots/pans that they have"! Too funny, we learn where we live.
    My dad said that they used a potato peeler because it didn't waste as much of the potato as a knife did.
    Jean C.

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  8. My parents had a garden for a few years later in their lives, but we never had one when I was growing up in Louisiana. I think there was too great a concern for slithery things of the very poisonous kind! I attempted gardening when we lived in Oregon. It was a very small, raised-bed type, but it was never very productive. We now have a regular gardening area (not too big), but hubby has tilled and amended the soil enough now that it looks like it will be producing very well. We only planted tomatoes and squash this year, but I also have a "pottage" pot of herbs which is doing very well.

    I cannot believe how huge those tomato plants are that your grandfather had -- wow!

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!