Sitting on the back rail of our deck, and probably to Kim's chagrin, sits eight red plastic coffee containers filled with dirt. Each is filled with rich, crumbly soil, a combination of the past two years' worth of composting, gardening and the addition of a few yards of earth to make a vegetable garden. From the garden came the dirt to fill the coffee containers. Soon, I hope to see bell pepper and jalapeno plants sprouting from seeds, some of which came from plants already pulled for the eating from other plants. About 30 tomato plants, the products of precise planning and nature's surprise with last year's seeds that never sprouted now taking hold, are scattered in a few gardens and another three canisters. I'm not 100% sure of what I'm doing, but I am learning. I wished I could walk my grandmothers through my yard today.
My step grandmother was pretty good at plants and gardening-it came with the generation-but my grandmom on dad's side really knew her stuff, being a farmer's wife and having grown up among fields in Mississippi. I have a book full of memories of her walks in our backyard when I was a kid. She'd pull a leaf off of each plant, sniff it, tell a story about how to use it and then move on to the next plant. I would love to take that walk with her now, with a notepad in hand.
I purchased a book titled "Basic Country Skills" about a year ago, and almost everything I look up in its contents reveals something that I've either heard stories about or witnessed attempted in a suburban style. More of the former than the latter. The stuff in the thick book was common knowledge to my kin. But for all the writing contained therein, I have little access to experience or the voice of wisdom.
I expect to have a great number of tomatoes this year, and plan on learning how to can them, and fry or pickle the green ones. Nature may surprise me and I might end up with only a few for a salad, but that is okay, too. I am sure that I will learn with each attempt to propagate, grow and use the plants. I'm not 100% sure of what I'm doing, but I am learning. I wished I could walk my grandmothers through my yard today.
Listen to Life is a free ewsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2010 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.