Growing up in Michigan, we always had a garden. A HUGE one, at that! We had multiple rows of corn, peas, green beans, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and lettuce. We also had a strawberry patch that was amazing! My mom would write on the calendar how many pints of strawberries we’d pick each day. Some days that number was in the triple digits! We had a grape vine that grew so big my dad had to build a second support for it. We had squash, zucchini, watermelons and pumpkins. We dabbled in potatoes and eggplants occasionally. My grandmother next door had about a dozen apple trees and a Bartlett pear tree (which to this day remains my favorite variety of pear!). There was a mulberry tree in our front yard that would leave our hands, mouths, and bare feet purple. We’d travel to the Upper Peninsula every summer and go blueberry picking. The local orchard had cherry picking, too. It was such a blessing to grow up with all those fresh fruits and veggies! Our freezers and the shelves in our back room would always be overflowing by late fall, and we’d have enough to make it through the winter and spring until it was time to till and get the next years garden growing. I don’t remember buying very much produce at all during those years.
It was a lot of work—don’t get me wrong. I hated getting up early during my summer vacation from school to weed the garden, but if you weren’t up early it was way too hot! In Michigan we’d rarely have to water our garden. God would do that for us when it’d rain. We had a friend with a tractor who would drag the soil for us every year. We’d go over and help them drag their garden, too. That was one of the perks of growing up in a small town.
After graduating from high school and being out on my own, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to start my own garden. We’d never lived anywhere longer than about three years until we moved to Colorado. It really hasn’t been until we moved into the house we’re in now that I’ve had room to even think about devoting part of my back yard to a veggie garden. But then there’s the issue of the soil and the lack of humidity here. Shoot, we mow the weeds in the back yard and call them grass because we can’t get it to grow! But my hubby and I have been discussing this for a few years now. This year, I took my first baby steps toward my garden. I had two old half barrels that I’d used for flowers (that eventually died—have I mentioned I have two black thumbs instead of green?). I bought new soil for them, and two tomato plants, plus some lettuce, sage, and basil seeds. I’m watering them religiously (unless it rains, which it occasionally does here!) and today I bought cages for the tomatoes. It’s been about a week and I’ve got hundreds of little lettuce sprouts! I’m hoping to have fresh tomatoes for my hubby and youngest son, and possibly enough to make some spaghetti sauce for all of us. I’m also hoping to be able to make a fresh salad with our lettuce.
Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll buy another container and plant something else. Maybe a pepper plant. Or carrots. Or maybe I’ll try my hand at strawberries. Next year, maybe we’ll even build some raised beds and expand even more. Nothing beats growing your own food.