Thursday, April 23, 2009

With the economy depressed, there's been talk of late of a resurgence in home vegetable gardens. First Lady, Michelle Obama made headlines with a photo of her turning the sod at the Whitehouse for a proposed veggie garden this year.

The pundits, media Moguls and bloggers, twitterers, and facebookers have grabbed a spade and declared that we'll see vegetable gardens reminiscent of the Victory gardens of WWII.

Myself I don't have to go back that far, although I can. In the late forties and early fifties, as a toddler, I can recall my parent's vegetable garden out next to the garage. The huge garden behind Aunt Nellie's over on Albany avenue provided a maze to cavort in as well as providing fresh food for the table. But it wasn't too many years before the garden plots were seeded over to nutritious Kentucky blue grass or pansies and irises.

Then, in 1972, the economy turned bleak again. Gasoline prices sky-rocketed to $1.50 a gallon from $0.35. and everybody was putting in a plot of vegetables to help cut the cost of living.

On a visit to the library on post at Fort Campbell I serendipitously stumbled across a magazine titled OGF (organic farming and gardening) published by Rodale Press and edited by Robert Rodale. In short order I became an advocate of gardening, vegetable gardening, organic vegetable gardening in particular. In the front of our on-post house D. planted flowers in the front and in the rear of the house, the part that received the lions share of sunshine, I planted my first plot of vegetables. Oh, it wasn't much; a few tomatoes and some string beans and lettuce. But it was a start. A start of a process that would last through today; 37 years. The biggest lesson I learned from that garden was the value of compost. Next to the garden plot, I started piling the grass clippings save when ever I mowed the lawn. Soon I had a pile of grass that measured a good 4 feet high and four feet around. As the growing season progressed the tomato plant nearest the heap of grass was easily 3 times the size of the others farther down the row. It was also greener and more lush. In the span of one hot Kentucky Summer I had found the value in gardening with compost.

Through the years we've had bigger and smaller gardens. In the past few years the plot for veggies has measured about 20 X 60, not counting the herb garden, blueberry patch, raspberries, grapes and strawberry bed. Oh and two apple trees (Macintosh and Cortland.) The old house we bought came with abundant flower beds which D. has maintained and added to over the years. There was a short span of time when we raised chickens for eggs and meat as well a rabbits. Did three turkeys one year but the neighbor's dog kilt off two.

When we moved here to our village home in 1975, almost every yard in the village had a vegetable plot of some size. Now, if there are 3 or 4 you'd be lucky. It'll be interesting to see if there is a resurgence of ground spading here this summer.

How about you? Are you going to plant some vegetables this year?



Blogger KoffeeBean said...

This seems to sum it up nicely:
"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse. :) D

7:48 AM  
Blogger willow said...

I used to have a vegetable garden. Now I've got a hankerin' to plant a new one!

9:04 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

I wish I had a yard. I love organic gardening and having fresh veggies in the Summer. Sigh.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I've seen a flurry of entries about gardening on the blogs I read. I do not have a garden, my landlords take care of the yard, and I am away for most of the summer, so I couldn't really tend to one. Besides, I am pretty sure that it's a hobby that I could not really get into.

I may write a post about gardening too. And my congratulations to you for all of your organic gardening. I know that it is highly rewarding.

8:47 AM  

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