I have some fond memories from my childhood. There was a time when we lived in a small town, in a big house that used to be a duplex. It was cool because the upstairs and downstairs were the exact same format. That meant we had two kitchens. We made one of them into a huge laundry room. I had no idea how much I would miss that awesome room when I was all grown up in my own home. Houses just don’t have big laundry rooms. It was a luxury and I didn’t even know it.

I liked living in that house. It had lots of cool things about it. There were stairs going upstairs on the inside and outside of the house. We had really interesting carpet we called marshmallow because it was dark blue, chocolate, and white in color. (smores) There was an amazing climbing tree in the front yard, and a huge back yard. The yard was so big that we had a big shed, a duck ‘house’ with ducks and a wading pool, a swing set, and the biggest garden I’ve ever seen in a yard.

I remember that garden very well. We sifted dirt for days through a giant metal screen. We planted row after row of vegetables. We grew everything! Except jicama….cause it tastes like dirt. It was cool to watch our hard work literaly grow before our eyes and then to go out and ‘harvest’ food from our garden everyday. We used every bit of that garden. I remember a special dish my mother made for us called beet green pie. It was not a sweet pie like cherry or apple. It wasn’t even a tangy pie like strawberry or rhubarb. It was the kind of pie that made you feel like you really never wanted to eat anything called “pie” again in your lifetime. It was foul. It was beyond foul.

At the time, I didn’t know why we had the garden or even why we had that disgusting pie. When I was older, my parents recounted the story of the epic garden a bit differently than I remembered. I guess we were pretty strapped for cash and that garden was our food. Mom got creative and tried to use as much as we could from the garden, so we could eat. I think it’s great to be able to look back on a time that was most likely stressful for my parents and see an adventure instead of stress. I don’t know how I really felt at the time, but if it was bad in any way, time has erased it. I sure hope that is how it happens for my kids!

Today my little family planted our garden. We have done a bit in the past, but never anything as epic as the garden from my youth. We have mostly grown tomatoes in every state we’ve lived in, but this time we are doing a bit more. Ethan had to finish his gardening merit badge today so, it put a fire under us to do it now.  We made a lot of progress in spite of the errands, school, major wind, and the cold front that came in. I’m hoping we actually yield a harvest or two and that my kids find some joy in growing something they can eat. There is something magical to me about putting a seed or small plant in the ground and having it produce food. I just love it.

I come from a long line of gardeners. At least, I remember my mother’s father having a garden. He had garden beds around his back yard. I used to go out and steal cherry tomatoes from his bushes. He would get upset but, I think he secretly smiled . He was a funny guy. When he retired and moved from his small town to Mesa, he bought a house with a gravel yard in front and back. The theory was he would not have to do yard work. It wasn’t long before the backyard gravel was moved aside to make room for his huge garden right in the middle. I guess old habits die hard. He grew everything.

I don’t claim to have a green thumb, but I am trying. I did my research and checked out what grows when here in Arizona, so at least I am working with possibles. It is interesting to me that even things that are not supposed to grow well this time of year are on sale at the  hardware store. I guess they let us figure stuff out for ourselves.

Tomorrow I will continue to work on my garden. Lots more plants are sitting on the back porch patiently awaiting their new homes. I’m hoping no wild animals come to my yard tonight and eat them. I’m also hoping this amazing wind that is attempting to blow my house down will not damage all our hard work from today. Nothing takes the joy and fun out of gardening than having it all blown to Oz the night after you plant it. Cause I said so.


**a side note: years after the epic garden experience, after I have moved out, and right before I got married, I told my mother I thought I was mature enough to appreciate Beet Green Pie. She went to a lot of trouble and made it for me. I took one bite….and told her ,”Nope, it is still totally disgusting.” some things don’t get better with age….

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