Monday, March 09, 2020

Spring is near ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Jilda and I have been dog-earing seed and fruit catalogs since the first of the year. This year we’ve added flowers, fruits, and veggies that attract bees. We’re worse than kids with a Sears Wish Book at Christmas time. When we tallied the orders, we realized we’d knocked a dent in our debit card. We’re getting ready for spring.

I’m not fretting because when the fresh fruit and vegetables begin showing up on our table, it makes it all worthwhile. I’m not sure you can put a price on a sandwich made with a fat tomato that you grew yourself.

I think my love of gardening got passed down through my DNA from my great grandmother Liddy Watson, who lived next door to us when I was in grammar school.

She lived in an old camp house with tar-paper siding. It had a porch all the way across the front. She had a rocking chair on one end that gave her a good view of her garden.

The front of her house faced east. When the mid-morning the sun made it comfortable, she’d sit out there, sip coffee, and talk to her plants. When I wasn’t in school, I’d go down and keep her company.

She had buckets, tin cans, and old slop jars on the banisters. When there was no space on the rails, she’d use coat hangers to hang more from top supports on her porch.

When I would ask her about a plant in a particular can, she’d give me the common name and whether she ate it or used it as a treatment for some ailment.

The two plants that I remember are primrose, and flaxseed, both of which she said helped with her rheumatism. 

I spent a lot of Saturday mornings during the spring helping her get her garden ready. When the signs were right, she’d send word to a neighbor who had a mule and plow that it was time to break up her garden.

Over the coming weeks and months, she’d plant enough food to feed herself and a developing country in that small plot. There were softball-sized tomatoes, corn, pepper, green beans, okra, cucumbers, and black-eyed peas. I spent a chunk of my youth, helping her pick peas and shell them.

What she didn’t eat or give away, she canned so that she could still enjoy the food when her garden “gave out.”

Each spring, I think about my great-grandma. She gave all of us kids simple gifts that she bought from the coffee man (peddler) when he came by each month. But I think the most precious gift she gave me was a love for gardening.

I wrote the paragraph below in my journal last night. I think it says it all.

"The march continues. Things that have slept all winter are waking and reaching for sunlight. Yesterday there were tiny purple crocus flowers at the edge of the flower bed, and today the collards that we planted last fall in the old bathtub by the backyard fence are in bloom. Colors we’d forgotten during the gray of winter now remind us that spring is near."


  1. Your great-grandma gave you a precious gift. Who gave you the seed for your word-play?

  2. Ahh, Mrs Liddy Watson was a jewel. I could see that front porch as you wrote. Good article, I know your readers will enjoy that read. Love it.
    Sherry & jack

  3. I think I would have very much liked Liddy. I enjoy the six tomatoes I manage to harvest every year. Not much room at a townhouse to garden plus I am just not very good at it. Probably something to do with a patience deficiency.

    My Grandmother had a small victory garden and I loved shelling peas. Also loved eating a few while shelling. Only took me a few summers to realize the 2 hour sneezing fits I would have were from an allergy to raw peas.

  4. I've never planted anything before. To tell you the truth, I'm a bit leery I'd come across a snake. Nevertheless, I sure enjoyed meeting Liddy … and your photo is awesome!

  5. There is truly nothing better than a homegrown tomato sandwich!

  6. Home grown is usually the best

  7. I love home grown veggies and fruit. My hubby never knew he had a green thumb until he met me. I have a black thumb but I knew certain things to do so he started gardening and now loves it! He has created a butterfly and bee paradise in the years that was covered in stone. We grew a couple of cherry tomatoes and there were so many tomatoes we couldn’t keep up and they were so sweet. It is always nice to see flowers start


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