When I was growing up both my mom and my grandma had huge gardens. They grew everything from tomatoes to potatoes and many others in between. Every summer we would sit on the deck and snap beans and shell peas until I didn’t care if I ever saw one again. They would turn tomatoes into salsas and marinara sauce and pickle cucumbers and beats until you couldn’t remove the vinegar smell from your nostrils. It wasn’t often that we needed to get fresh produce from the store throughout the summer and early fall.
Now that my I have my own little plot of country, I too have a garden. It’s been an adventure–trying to figure out not only what to grow, but how to keep it alive. There is something special about planting a seed, watching it grow, and then picking it at its ripest for a delicious meal. My husband and I love fresh tomatoes and cucumbers the most, but green beans and carrots are probably a tie for second. Our garden also contains several types of peppers: red, green, poblano, and jalapeno; lettuce; spinach; and a galvanized tub of herbs: dill, basil, sage, and cilantro. There have also been the failures: zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, sugar snap peas (the birds ate over a dozen of these down to the stem), green onions, a watermelon, and a pumpkin (it was snapped of by the wind during a storm).
In looking back, I had no idea how amazing and soothing gardening would be to me as an adult. When you’re young, it seems like so much work and it’s nearly impossible to comprehend the value of being able to be self-sustainable (at least to some degree). And, I most definitely didn’t appreciate all the work that they put into their gardens. But, now that I have my own garden, I can’t imagine not having one. Is it hard work? Yes, but it’s also quite rewarding. And, while the bugs eat me alive every time I try to pick green beans, I find that the taste of fresh-roasted or grilled green beans are well worth the giant welts speckling my arms and legs.