Creating my happiness isn't all that hard but does take some hard work. I am a farmer at heart and always have been. This goes all the way back to when I was a child tending the gardens with my grandfather. We had some fun and some very rememberable moments as well. Some even still stick with me until this day, like when he told me that horseradish tasted just like an onion! Let me tell you, oh my goodness it does not taste like an onion. I remember Grandma yelling at him about it while I was drinking milk. With him just standing there laughing his butt off about it. From that day forth I never sat down and ate onions with Grandpa. Before that we would eat them like they were apples, peel them eat them. But it never stopped me from going over there and spending time with him out in his gardens or any other time.
Farming can bring out the light in most days. It can also tell you when the seasons are about to change. My Grandfather would also try to grow the biggest pumpkins and watermelons. I have a memory that sticks with me about this subject is why I bring it up. I use to be one of the smallest grandchildren in the whole darn family. One Halloween my grandpa out did himself, he grow one of the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen. He left the duty of cleaning this great big thing out to the grandkids, like six of us. He cut the top off and it was our jobs to get all the guts out of it. Once we got all we could out from the top, a couple of the bigger kids talked me into climbing in. So, they helped me up and I climbed in to get the rest of the guts out. All the other kids thought it would be funny to push me down in and put the lid on it. I was in there for what seemed like five or ten minutes now but longer then. I did not think it was funny at all. They did get yelled at when one of the parents came out to see what we were doing. Either way I cried my butt off about it for a while. I was scared of not being able to get out of that damn pumpkin. That is another reason how I remember grandpa's gardens.
Now, wishing I had pictures of my own to share but at least I still have the memories of these times.
During harvest time the family would gather at Grandma and Grandpa's to help with picking and canning. Grandma's canned pickles were the best pickles anyone could ever have, bottom line. They would also make up stewed tomatoes, canned corn, and grape juice. Dry out apricots, apples slices, pear slices, banana chips, and so much more. Weeks would go into making all this happen and it wasn't just from the grandparent's gardens. We had a garden at my parents house and most of the aunt's and uncle's had gardens at their houses as well. Sometimes it seemed like harvest time would never end but it always did in time for the holidays.
Now the holidays is when you really seen what all the hard work was about. Everyone gathering together bring dishes to pass. Everything from fruit salads, green bean casserole, veggie trays, Grandma's pickles, and Grandma would always have a turkey and a ham ready to eat. No one would ever go hungry at a family get together and if you did it was because you were to picky to eat the food that was there.
Holidays use to be about eating good food and gathering to hang out with the family, Some of them we didn't get to see that often. Like my Uncle Jimmy who served in the army and still does and his wife my Aunt Jamie. Or my Aunt Linda and Uncle David and their kids that lived a state away and would only have those times to spend with them.
That brings up another memory and this is off subject but is funny. My Uncle Jimmy like I said served in the army. When he would come back only once or twice a year or around Christmas and maybe 4th of July. For that thank you to him for his service but anyhow. I found something that my uncle disliked and got to make some money off him when I was a kid. I would shave my head all but this tail in the back. With him being a military brat he didn't like that hair cut at all. So, he would offer me money to be able to cut it off. Shot, I was like five years old. That was like being a millionaire at that age. Plus to boot, there was a Jelly-Belly store just a couple blocks away. Think back to 1986 or 87; how many Jelly-Bellies do you think you could buy back then for five bucks? Wow, yeah, great times. If you ask him he still has one somewhere at his place.
Anyhow, back on track. Those family gatherings wouldn't have been possible without our families growing gardens. Through all the hard work and hunting bodies there was some really good memories made. Plus, working in a garden growing the right things at the right times; you never go hungry. Unless it's winter in Michigan and you didn't store anything. I stayed fed working in the garden. The way I looked at it was if there was only one or two ripe! They were mine for the taking because that wouldn't feed the family, now would it? Or vice versa if there were too many, then some of them were mine as well.
My mother one year decided to plant or have planted, six plants of baby golden bell tomatoes. I will have to say there were some many of those things it was crazy. Like I would walk around the garden seeing what needed to be done; tossing them up like popcorn by the packet full and still be able to bring a counter full back up to the house. It was the same way with the cherry tomatoes holy moly, I tell you what. Don't forget most farmers have more than two types of tomatoes in their gardens. I think my mom would have five or six different kinds and grandpa did as well.
Well, now since you have some memories about my childhood and why hold gardening so dear to me. I'm going to break down the steps to a garden from the beginning. This is how I was taught on how to proper an area for a garden. Plus, you will see how many time I fall off subject because memories and thoughts that flow through my mind. If anything the jumps between will bring out a good laugh.
Now how I was taught by my Grandfather and my parents was to walk the land you plan on tilling before hand. This is to clean up everything that was left behind in the fall or may have fallen there over the winter. This can be anything from tomato cages, guide line string, hand tools, or even tree branches that have fallen. All these things need or should be cleaned up before you start the tilling of your garden area. I will tell you it sucks when you run over a tomato cage with a tiller. Plus it makes for a lot more work having to get that cage out of the teeth of the tiller. I know I've been there and done that a couple times. You may even want to mow over the plot before you start tilling. This will all depend on how tall the grass is because tall grass can also bind up a tiller. Or if the ground has ever been tilled up before. If it hasn't then the ground will be harder than a plot that has been gardened before.
Now once you begin tilling you will want to just start out with the teeth hitting right below the surface. This way if there is anything in the way or even a rock you couldn't see on the walk through. This will help you find things without messing everything up. Once you have the surface cut smooth, drop the teeth down another couple of inches. This will help with adding some structure to the soil. This allows your plants root systems to have something to hold themselves up during growth and weather. So, don't go over it too many times until it's smooth or your plants may blow over in a wind storm or thunder storm. I have seen plants ripped right out of the ground because of this.
Then comes mapping your garden out, it may sound easy but there are some things to keep in mind. From which way the sun rises and sets plays a large factor. The reason for this is; you want want to place your tallest plants to the northside of your garden. You do not want your tall plants blocking any of the light from the smaller plants in the garden. It would be best to find an area on one side or the other for all your vined veggies and fruits. This will help them not take over the garden and kill other plants, It will also help keep run off vines in order by being able to place them back in their area. Always try and keep plants together and/or in lines. Trust me this helps too.
Now is the time to start laying out your guide lines. This helps you get a good understanding of the space you have to work with and how may plants you are going to need to fill you garden. Kind of mark out where each plant is going to be. Each plant will have different spacing between them. Some of them need all the room they can get at times for the ability to grow to their best. So, this will also take some learning to with all the different kinds of plants out there. Totally make sure you read and know something about the plants before hand. After you lay it all out start and buy the plants you want. Then it is time for you to begin your planting. If you have a large garden and doing it by yourself this part may take a couple days. Don't forget to water after you plant, watering will help get any air packet out of the soil around the roots.
Wow the hard work is done, oh wait no it isn't. You may have a week or so and then the weeding begins and the thinning of some of your plants. It might sound easy but it takes a lot be able to be bent over during all this work. There are tools to help with some of it but it still doesn't cut all the pain away.
I will go into a couple of tools that may help you along the way. This is where a good hoe or hoes come in handy. A crack hoe are good for planting in lines or with making tranches along plant lines. This will help keep water near the plant for a better watering soak. Loop hoes are also handy to have because they help cut right below the surface cutting roots of any weeds for easier clean-up. Then you have a garden hoe that can help in making mounds that you may need during planting. To making mounds around plants that have grown enough that they may need for support. So, there are three hoes that will help you well in the gardening.
I have a voice inside me right now saying, "He said hoe hahaha and hoes hahaha." and another saying, "Shut up he is talking about gardens." "Yeah gardens and hoes." Thinking of it, wouldn't that be a better song than "Boats and hoes." What are you suppose to hoe on a boat. No one grows a garden on their boat! Anyhow just saying "Gardens and Hoes," really needs to be the next big music hit, just saying.
Moving forward we are almost there, I promise. During the next few weeks is when you start shaping your plants. I what I mean by this is removing some of the inner branches and some of the flowers that may take away from the rest of the fruits. You will still may need to do some thinning on some of the other plants like radishes and leaf lattice as well. The whole reason behind this is that if there are too many of them close together they won't have the space to grow. Like I have talked about before, they all need their space.
But soon you will start to see the fruits of your labor and it will be all worth it. I know it can be hard at time to wait but you always need to keep in mind everything takes time. After all this work is done and when you start to see colors appear, that is when you know it's all worth it. If you grow a big garden then there may even be too much for you to handle at times. Some may go bad or you can make trip and bless other's with your fruits. If you or someone you know, knows how to can then you can even have some put up to enjoy all the rest of the year until your next garden. Do the work and mother nature will do her apart in helping you and your garden to grow.
And last but not less thank you for the read and hope you enjoyed it. I know I did with recalling those memories I hold so dear. If you can leave a tip! I would be greatly appreciated it if you could. Either way be blessed and God believe the farmers and everyone else.