Spring signals return to garden and its bounty

Published 3:00 pm Friday, March 18, 2022

Now that it’s spring, we want to get out and dig in the dirt, plant some flowers, and enjoy the warmer weather. 

When I was a kid, my dad was among the first in the neighborhood to plant a garden.  And he always did it in a big way—lots of tomato plants, lots of potatoes, corn, beans.  You name it, he planted it.  And of course, he involved the whole family. 

As the garden grew, he would drive around the neighborhood to see how our garden compared to others.  He took a great deal of pride in the garden.  You see, back in the day, almost everyone had a garden.  It wasn’t farm to table, it was garden to table.  And my folks were big on sharing with others.  They would pick the produce and deliver it to anyone they thought might enjoy fresh fruits and veggies.  

My mother was a good cook.  She was really clever with stretching leftovers and all. 

I don’t remember eating out hardly ever when I was a kid.  We always had vegetables from the garden and ate what we raised.  My mom and brother would pick blackberries and Mom would make jam and jelly and freeze blackberries to make pies and cobblers.  Our neighbor had a big field of strawberries.  We would pick on the thirds, meaning for every 3 quarts of berries we picked, we would keep one. 

So, we also had strawberry jam and strawberries in the freezer.   In the fall, we would journey to Normandy Apple Orchard.  We would come home with what seemed like tons of apples.  We had an old apple peeler which I still have.  It was easy to use and did a great job of peeling the apples, then “kicking” them off the peeler.  Mom made applesauce, apple butter, and we had lots of apples for pies.  

I hated all the canning, and I was the one who always had to wash the canning jars.  I swore that I would never do that when I grew up.  And yet, I did.  Well, actually, Tom and I had a big garden, but we also had a dishwasher that took care of washing all the jars.  Our boys learned how to plant and care for the garden.  

With this last blast of cold weather and snow, I sat thinking about what to cook or bake.  I get in a rut and seem to repeat the favorites and familiar too often.  I almost always have comfort foods–soup, gumbo, and spaghetti sauce in the freezer.  My husband is so kind and thoughtful that he often suggests take out so I don’t have to cook.  I enjoy “reading” cookbooks. 

However, as I’ve gotten older, I am less likely to try a new recipe if it has too many ingredients.  I like the ones that are simple and predictable.  And one other kitchen gadget that I find essential is a magnifying glass.  Why is it that the print on the packaging is so small these days?  And why are the directions and ingredients printed such that I must reach for the magnifying glass?  

I am grateful for the farmers who enter each season with hope and optimism that their crops will do well.  And often they do not.  Farmers are at the mercy of the weather, pests, and many other factors that are out of their control.  Here’s an Irish blessing for them.  Much gratitude for the farmers!

“May the rains sweep gentle across your fields;

May the sun warm the land;

May every good seed you have planted bear fruit, 

and late summer find you standing in fields of plenty.”  

 

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. She can be reached at bbrown@olemiss.edu.