Friday, February 5, 2010
Feeding the Family: The Garden, Part 2
We were organic before organic became popular. From the totally organic garden to the table, and sometimes it didn't even make it to the table. The first peas were furtively plucked, pods popped, and the delicious fresh peas were scraped from the pod and scooped into the mouth. The first tender fresh carrots were pulled from strategic places in the row, wiped on the pants, and crunched between the teeth. And is there anything better than a tender young radish? Or the first handful of washed lettuce topped with sugar? But, of course, there was much more than could be eaten on the go. Tommy and I soon found ourselves with large dishpans full of peas in front of us. We made a game of seeing who could fill their bowl with shelled peas first. After the bowls were full, mom blanched and froze them. After the peas, we began on the beans. Sitting on a blanket on the shady side of the house, we attacked the dishpans that were now filled with beans. Each one had to be "snapped" on both ends before mom took them, cut them up, and canned them. Beans weren't as much fun because they are no good raw and too many of them had dandelion fuzz stuck to them. It wasn't long before we were husking corn, which mom cut off the cob and froze. And, oh, the taste of fresh corn-on-the-cob straight from the garden to the supper table! My brothers had a contest to see who could eat the most. For weeks, our days were consumed with picking the produce from the garden, canning, and freezing, making into pickles, relish and numerous other things. The two big freezers in the basement had been defrosted and made ready for all the new food. The shelves in the basement were ready to receive the bounty of canned goods. Last of all, the "pit" under the well house received gunny sacks full of potatoes and carrots. Finally, before winter set in, another year of gardening had been complete. I looked forward to several months reprieve before I was once again on my hands and knees in the hot sun, in the dry dirt, battling against the never-ending weeds.