Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How Does YOUR Garden Grow?


Mom. My gardening hero.

In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to romance.
A young woman’s fancy turns to gardening.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it . . .
It’s spring!
Even in northern Alberta, we have spring.
It just comes later and leaves earlier . . .
And spring means gardening!
My mom was a gardener.
One of those m-m-m-m-major gardeners.
Her patch of vegetables covered roughly two acres.
Give or take.
And was enough to provide the entire ranch population with food for much of the year.
I had been out in her garden from the time I could lift a hoe.
And even sooner (see here).
Not necessarily productive, but learning.
By the time I was married, I thought I knew everything there was to know about gardening.
Boy, was I wrong.
Did you know that those little plants don’t plant themselves in neat, tidy rows?
No.
They have to be painstakingly put there.
Oh, I admit that I watched Mom string a long piece of twine and follow it with a hoe to make sure her garden was aesthetically pleasing.
But it never occurred to me that her actions had a point.
But I was willing to learn.
My Husby rototilled a large patch of ground near our home.
Armed with a century’s worth of seeds, I started out.
Planting turned out to be quite easy.
Stretch the string.
Follow the line with a hoe.
Plant the seeds.
Cover them up.
Turn on the sprinkler.
Wait.
I should probably mention that while waiting, you have to keep an eye on things.
Otherwise, the weeds tend to overpower the plants.
In my first garden, I had planted a couple of rows of tomatoes.
I love tomatoes.
I had no idea that they needed to be started sometime in . . . December.
The little plants poked through the ground.
As did the weeds.
The interesting thing about weeds is the fact that they adapt themselves to fit perfectly with whatever vegetable plant they are near.
Thus, tomato weeds look like tomatoes.
Carrot weeds look like carrots.
And so on.
My tomatoes had emerged.
The weeds that accompanied them looked nearly identical.
They even smelled the same.
Which was which?
I studied the two plants.
Finally, I made a decision and started pulling.
Soon the rows were clean and tidy.
Happily, I turned the sprinkler on my garden and went back into the house.
A short time later, my mother-in-law, also a master gardener, came out for a visit.
She stood at the end of my garden.
“Why do you have two tidy rows of weeds, Diane?”
I stared at her.
Then turned to look at my tomatoes.
I had chosen . . . poorly.
Then she gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten.
“Diane. If you’re in doubt about a plant, pull it up. If it comes back, it was a weed.”
Good advice.
Doesn’t help much, but good advice all the same.

22 comments:

  1. I do my gardening in the produce section of the grocery store....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh! I like that! You're my new gardening hero!

      Delete
  2. I am smiling on this one............ My parents had a farm; so I can relate to this one. My father was the gardner and always had one up until he became too ill to plant. This brought a number of memories; thank you for that.
    I always enjoy your stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you just love 'digging' up memories?! :)

      Delete
  3. I've got a 1942 Ford car growing out of my garden. It's doing a lot better than even the weeds...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I could never top my mom's garden, so why try. When she had to cry "uncle" after forty bushels of tomatos, there were a few bushel left for me to can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She should have had me take care of her tomatoes. I guarantee she wouldn't have had to spend even a minute processing them!

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. See these fingers? All brown. Not a green thumb in the lot . . .

      Delete
  6. what we usually do is plant the seeds in a container.(paper cups)?? When the little plants sprout you plant them outside and tie them to a post this way you always know which is the right plant and which is a weed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should work . . . of course I would probably find some way to screw it up!!! :)

      Delete
  7. Diane, I think your mom's advice is priceless! And funny! My mother loves gardening. Me? Not so much. I get tired just thinking about it. All that pruning, weeding, and watering. Sigh. I've yet to figure out how my mum thinks all that hard work is therapeutic. I love flowers and plants but I confess I'm too lazy to take care of them. Terrible, I know! Perhaps it's not too late to change my mind. After all, they say gardening burns a lot of calories! hee hee! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Know what I think? You have it. Or you don't. I don't. :) For you and me, there are other ways to burn calories!!! (May I borrow Sweet Roxie to go for a walk?)

      Delete
  8. Oh no! I think I would sit down and cry. At least it was lesson learned... I bet you never did that again! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely not. After that I bought tomatoes that were at least a foot high. Less chance of mistakes then! :)

      Delete
  9. Perfectly describes my gardening abilities:) My Mom is a Master gardner and can't believe she raised such a poor gardner in her daughter:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Mom too! She was aghast that she, master of everything grow-able, could produce a daughter who was only comfortable around vegetables when they were displayed in a grocer's shelves. Sigh.

      Delete
  10. Fantastic! It's our second year......and we aren't really great at it yet, but we're learning! Pulling something out of the ground that you planted there as a seed-and EATING it?! One of the best feelings in the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! I actually did have some successes, so I do know the feeling! Slightly. :)

      Delete

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