Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my!

I do have moments of fear when, like Dorothy and her mates walking the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, I wonder if my garden experiments are going to work out. Failure waits just around the corner: frost/freeze, no rain, blistering heat, cut worms. Then there are the possible failures of my own making like the homegrown saved potato chits or last season's saved seeds that may or may not germinate. I have an irrepressible urge to go out and dig up a chit to see if they are rotting or pushing down roots and am reminded there was a time, not so long ago, when that was the way of life.

All food was once chance, especially in The South, where almost to a person we were diggin' in the dirt poor growing our own food. My mother's parents were the last of that generation. I grew up visiting their farm where I helped my grandmother gather eggs and watched quietly while grownups milked cows. There was to be no getting the cows stirred up before milking. We talked quietly, if at all, and my grandfather leaned his head on the cow possibly an old childhood habit from being sleepy at milking time. I shucked corn for the corn crib under the tree just off the back porch, was warned that there might be rats in that crib and to stay out. We (a gaggle of cousins) had been caught playing King of the Mountain in the corn crib and that was my grandmother's way of keeping us out without lifting a finger or fussing. It worked. 

For my grandparents, seasoned pros, there was no failure. There was always milk, too many eggs, pork and beef in the freezer for the extended family and vegetables put up by Dola. Now that I'm doing it myself, I just don't get how they seemed so calm and fearless. More than once I have wanted to call them back and ask how they did things. Like the "'tater hill"; the outdoor winter storage mound for sweet potatoes. How was it constructed? My mother has only a vague idea, somthing about straw. My grandfather always made it.

I am left to find my way using books and the internet. Sean's garden is a good place for beginners:

sweet potato futures
seedlings on table

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