Today I was remembering how much my Mom and Dad loved gardening. I’m not sure what prompted the memories. Maybe the beginnings of Spring with its cool nights and warm days triggered a longing for the farm I grew up on. In my father’s older years, he would often tell me how much he loved Spring, because it meant new growth after a winter of cold and brown. You have never seen brown countryside until you see Iowa after a cold and snowy winter. There isn’t anything green anywhere! He told me he couldn’t wait to witness the first planted seed come to life and one green shoot after another erupt in rows from the newly turned earth. You see, having a garden was a big deal to my parents. We each did our part. Dad started getting the tiller ready in early March. As soon as the danger of a hard frost was over, he would get the garden soil turned over and tilled for planting. Mom would busy herself carrying bushel baskets full of mason jars out of the basement. She spent days happily washing the jars to ready them for canning. I can still hear the hymns Mom would hum to herself while mountains of suds in the kitchen sink made the jars sparkle!
All of us kids did most of the planting with Dad helping some, but more importantly, supervising. Mom made sure the eyes of the potatoes were cut off correctly and placed in the ground just right, so they would grow up and not down. Peas were the first vegetable to be planted, followed by potatoes. Potatoes were always planted on Good Friday, no matter what day or month it fell on. I still remember the delicious first meal from the garden: creamed peas with new baby potatoes. There is no other meal in the world that can top that one! Mom used the rest of the summer to can all the wonderful vegetables the garden produced. Most likely some bad times occurred, but I don’t remember a year the garden ever failed to produce enough food to last the entire winter and into the next spring. Then, it was time to do it all over again. Those were the good ol’ days!