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karenfromhingham

Childhood memories, please

karenfromhingham
21 years ago

Why are you a gardener? Did it start in your youth? Was there anyone in particular who interested you in gardening or inspired you to pursue it? Do you remember any event/s in particular? At school? At home?

Please share your childhood gardening stories. I'd like to explore what leads to a lifetime interest in gardening.

TIA,

- Karen

Comments (71)

  • annp
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Your 15 year old will be a gardener, I'm sure.

  • Rosa
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Gardening has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My first memories are of my gran'pa taking me out to the garden to plant tomatoes. As I grew he showed me how and what to weed, and how to fertilize and harvest. I remember riding out to the country to harvest fresh blackberries and raspberries and blueberries with them.
    My gran'ma grew the biggest and most beautiful dalias, and it was a chore to stake them-they always seemed to be bigger than I was!! I always helped her dig the tubers for winter storage. My help was rewarded with being able to pick the supper meal-stuffed pork chops, kraut and fried potatoes or pancakes served with fresh jams and powdered sugar that my grand'pa would make in the shape of animals. Later I remember my gran'pa giving me seeds of Burpee's white marigolds for my own garden.

    It's funny, helping my mother in her garden was always such a chore but helping my granparents or the neighbor was so-o-o pleasant. She'de get really steamed when she would find out that I had taken off to help my granparents in their garden and skipped my own chores in the garden!!
    We had alot of cherry trees in the neighborhood yards and every year all the kids would gather together and pick cherries which we deliverd to the neighbor. Very near thanksgiving everyone who contributed would get bottles of cherry wine he made from the harvest.

    When I moved from NJ to CO at the ripe old age of 18, the first thing I did was to establish my own garden. There have only been a three times in the 26 years I have lived here in CO that I was not able to have a garden due to apartment type living. One time, having no yard for a garden, I approached the widow neighbor lady and made an arrangement to use her yard in exchange for all the produce she could eat. She never did take any of the veggies I offered her, but I'de see her in the early morning walking around the garden, picking off an occassional bug, training the green beans up the poles and shooing away the birds. I think she just liked the yard put back into use.
    All three of my children worked in the garden with me when they were younger and even tho I don't get much help from them anymore they all still manage to sneak into the garden to eat most of the snow peas, beans and tomatoes whenever they can.

    Two years ago my college attending son called me to request garden help. He decided he needed to plant a garden to supplement his fast food eating habits. My present for Mothers Day was a trip to Denver (about 90 minutes away) to help him plant his garden. It was probably the very best day I ever spent with my son and the best Mothers Day present (even if I did spring for the transplants and seed).
    Not only did he have better success than I did that year but he graciously shared his bumper crop of Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, bell peppers and green beans with us on his visits home.

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  • minachu2_yahoo_com
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Karen - what a wonderful thread...

    My dad's yard was pretty large. It was one of the main reasons he bought the house in the 70's. His father was a farmer in our native island and dad wanted to have a place to grow also. We had at least 6 fruit trees at any time and lots of veggies. In between the fruit trees was a make-shift arbor. My brothers and I would climb up on the arbor and pick cherries and plums and have cherry pit spitting contests. I remember relatives and friends always coming over to pick some fruits or veggies.

    Now that I'm older, I bring my kids over to see their grandpa and the first thing he does is bring them to the yard and let them pick their own cherries, or apples, or plums, or whatever else is ripe at the time. It's so great since our yard is so small and we can't have any trees like dad does.

    Thank you for letting me write this.

    My parents will be selling that old house pretty soon. I'll really miss that yard and those trees.

  • cindylou
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You know, it's funny. I started reading this post to see everyone's elses stories, thinking that I had no memories to share myself! They are coming back to me now! The earliest thing I remember, I was maybe 7 or 8 is the corn my dad would grow. He had a big corn field right in front of railroad tracks! Now, I would be terrified that my kids would get hurt! After the corn was harvested, he would let us play hide and seek in the corn stalks before he would cut them down. At that same house, we had a neighbor that had muscadime(I know that's not how you sp it!) vines. We used to eat them and squash them, he was not too happy about the squashing thing! The next house we moved to, I remember my Dad complaining about the lady's yard. We were renting so he could not re-do like he wanted to. He finally got permission to make it more like a garden, than a rambling mess. I do not recall the mess, just him talking about it. He also had many raspberry bushes there. I remember picking them in the summer. When we moved to GA from Ohio, he planted more raspberry bushes. My Dad had this little space in front of the window facing the front road that he would plant annuals. He would always spell out our last name...L E E. I can't do that now as my last name is now Whitehurst! I found out later that my Dad used to be big into seeds and selling annuals. That must be where my love for gardening came from. I don't know what hit me but about 1 1/2 years ago I went totally crazy into plants. Nothing in my garden has been there over 2 years except the boxwoods we planted along the sides of the house. I have done so much landscaping and garden making especially this year! I will not tell you how much I have spent on plants(this year), just that it is over $1,000. It's just weird that I was never into it before this. I have definately been tapping into my Dad's experience though! He laughes at me! I call him at 11:00 at night and ask him if a certain plant will be alright outside tonight, should I bring my seedlings in, are they getting enough light, they are getting straggly, what do I do? He thinks I am officially crazy! I do thank you for this post! I have not thought about these memories in years! Leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling! Hopefully I will leave a positive memory for my kids and not just the same hypothesis my father came up with.....she's crazy! Thanks again!
    Cindy
    Oh...by the way, my husband of 7 years (and definately NOT into plants) knows I'm crazy!

  • oldherb
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    One of my most vivid gardening memories are of my father teaching me how to sow corn for the first time at age 6. We didn't have much of a garden until then. Then there was the taste of a fresh plucked carrot or sun warmed strawberries from our garden.

    My mother loved purple sweet alyssum and planted it every spring along the borders of our lawn where I would gather small bouquets and drink in there lovely sweet fragrance. Dad loved his roses and bearded iris which were displayed proudly in vases every summer.

    Then there was the weeding and cow manure. Dad knew how to keep a lawn green and a garden happy, and the secret was cow manure. Being young we always thought it was gross. Being green was not enough for Dad, if the lawn was going to really look nice it had to look like a golf course. No weeds allowed. So, every so often my younger brother and I would be sent to the yard with our dandelion forks in hand to rid the lawn of the intruding weeds. I new why Dad wanted us to pull the dandelions and clover but I always thought they should stay. They were much prettier than a plain old green lawn. I still think they should stay.

    I remember eating cattails in Girl Scouts; the beginning of my interest in edible plants. Then when I was 12 we moved to Portland, Oregon where even the state flower produces edible fruit! Somewhere in puberty I forgot about gardening.

    After my father's death I quit my desk job and now I work with and teach about plants for a living. Two years ago I found out my ancestors are buried in what is now national wildflower preserve. Go figure....

  • armadillo
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Many of you folks have mentioned an adult who was a very positve influence on you. I had just the opposite. When I was 6 I got a package of daisy seeds out of a potato chip package and planted them. They reseeded and came back . My dad died when I was 8 and my mom remarried. My step father and I despised each other from the word go. When the daisies came up he thought they were pretty until he found out they were mine then he mowed them down and the bed became the location of our firewood stack. A few years later we grew a veggie garden and he made me do most of the hard work. I hated it but had to accept it. Then in fall when I heard him bragging about "his" vegtables doing so well (he never set foot in the garden except to tell me what to do) I got about as close to murderous rage as is possible for a preteen. I vowed to never grow anything.

    I am very glad that my exwife slowly taught me that plants can be good friends. I started growing veggies on the balcony last summer and I love it now. I let my daughter do as much as she wants in the garden but I NEVER make her work in it and I alway tell folks that it is our garden together (even if she is not around). Usually I put the emphasis on her. I let her help choose what we will plant next summer and she is already anxious to show off her wild colored self grown vegtables to her friends in school.

    When I started writing this I thoght I had already bought all the seeds I need for next year but now I realize that I left out something important. I'm gonna grow me a great big pot of daisies.

    Thanks for letting me share this,

    Armadillo

  • gandle
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My mother died in 1926, yes the date is correct and my grandparents raised me. I don't remember ever seeing a can of anything in the house except for an occasional can of salmon, rare because of the terrible high price 15 cents or sometimes sardines which were a little more affordable, a nickle or less. We had a huge garden but then we had horses to pull a plow and a harrow. Everything we ate was either in the root cellar, dried or canned. My earliest task in the garden was carrying a pint jar with about an inch of kerosene to drop the potato bugs in. Arsenate of lead was too expensive to buy. I envied the children whose folks sprayed their potatos with either Paris green or arsenate of lead. They didn't have the bug duty. Now I'm very thankful that we couldn't afford those persistant chemicals. We planted huge amounts of kohl rabi, made sauerkraut from them, does anyone else have a memory of kraut from kohl rabi? I even remember the kinds of sweet corn we planted, Country Gentleman and Stowell's Evergreen. Most of that crop was dried, clean sheets were spread over quilting frames or saw horses and the corn was dried in the "parlor", had to be stirred every so often. Was delicious in the wintertime, grandma soaked the dried corn in milk and then cooked in on the old wood burning stove. Green beans were dried by running a thread through them and hanging huge strings of them around the house. They were called "leather breeches" because of their shape after drying. The flavor was quite good but the texture left something to be desired. Enough of an old mans ranting.

  • heather_q
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I got all of my gardening interests from my grandmother. My grandfather died in 1972 (before I was born) and I think the garden was truly a refuge for my grandmother.

    When I was little we lived in NC and she in NJ so we didn't get to see her very often. When we did go to her house she would walk me around and tell me about every plant. I remember...mammoth sunflowers twice as tall as me, how the snapdragons snapped, how the roses smelled, walking barefoot through her garden in the morning and watching the rainbows in the water from her hose.

    Eventually, my grandmother moved to NC to be in a warmer climate. When my husband and I moved into our house almost 7 years ago my grandmother was my gardening mentor every step of the way. I probably drove her crazy calling sometimes 2 or 3 times a day to ask silly gardening questions.

    My grandmother who had been gardening for almost 50 years went from able to frail in just a few short years. I picked out her plants at the greenhouse and planted them every year because she could not. She would say it broke her heart that she couldn't walk into her yard to see what was growing and to put her hands in the dirt. She was so afraid of falling that she wouldn't attempt it any longer.

    About 2 weeks before she died (21 Dec 2001) she asked me who would I ask my questions to when she was gone? I am still asking myself that today. Who could I call? I don't think there is anyone...at least no one who will replace the person that gave me a gardeners heart.

    Heather

  • happyponder
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    These stories are wonderful~ I'm 33 and my memories go back as far as I can remember..I can't recall ever seeing any store bought cans of food at my great grandparents. They were true farmers and did it all~ I stayed there on the weekends and everday during the summer the whole family got involved. I remember milking cows, skimming the milk, making butter, canning, various berry picking~ blackberries were my favorite! digging regular potatoes was aweful as I hated those stink bugs..yuk! sweet potato digging, I loved snapping beans(that is a great memory) Oh, it was aweful seeing them kill the animals for the meat~ still haunts me to this day! and picking corn and running it thru that thing that takes the kernels off (i dont know what its called) That was the one thing that I wanted after my GGfather passed on but my grandpa ran over it and busted the wooden box...this part has nothing to do w/ gardening but I loved getting up to the rooster crow and getting ready to load the trailer up behind the tractor w/ that pellet food for the cows and have them follow in a line behind us as we went to unload it w/ my ggpa whistling all the way. My ggma always had flowers all around the property I especially remember those
    (geez, I can't recall the name) they are either purple or pink and huge clusters of flowers....and daffodils...
    I don't know how they did this everyday~ hard times..
    My uncle now owns the land and the house is still there so I go walk thru it everytime i'm out his way, just for the memories. After they had both passed I went and dug up a bunch of daffodils and planted them at my house so I would have something from their place. Boy, those were the good old days. I would give anything to go back in time for a day just to appreciate it all.

  • oldmom
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I remember my dad, working in his backyard vegetable/flower garden. I was so glad he didn't just plant vegetables!
    My dad grew zinnias, bachelor buttons and small gourds, besides the vegetables.
    One day, he called me outside. He sounded excited! I saw a huge watermelon in the garden by the gourds!! Of course he was fooling me, he didn't grow that in Northern Wisconsin, but it was a funny memory for a little girl.
    He also dug a small circle garden & helped me plant the seeds from an "Old-Fashioned Garden."

  • saucydog
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think it was that little spider plant that I potted up during vacation bible school.

    I brought it to my grandmother who still has it in her house - or at least a decendant - and it's beautiful. Now it is 30 years later.

    My grandmother was my inspiration. She would take me out and point out all of her things in the garden. I didn't appreciate it then, but I enjoy everything she sends me now! She is 90 and finds the time to put seeds in every letter she sends and tells me all about what it will be if I can get it to grow.

    Saucy

  • Craftybrat
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have a very old memory of walking though one of my step-grandfathers gardens. He grew roses and it was hot and dusty as only the central vally in Calif. in August can be, he lived with my Grandma and if there was a choice inside with her (grumpy) or out in the garden I would be outside anytime. We where not supposed to mess in his garden my dad would have a fit if he caught us there "Not a place for clumsy ruff kids" as Dad always said to us, but I would sneak in anyway, he had an old Fruit tree I still don't know what kind it was but when the fruit was ripe OH IT WAS SO GOOD. He had every kind of flower growing that he could find and a 'few veggies' he really grew flowers. They lived in a tiny huose beside some huge orchards but we kids knew not go in there the farmer we where told would fill us with lead if we did. But it was so beautiful sometimes we did ..Just on the edge. It was always dark and quiet there. I will always remember when Grandpa 'caught' me in his rose garden he showed me his flowers told me to watch for the thorns and let me smell this one flower. I thought I was in heaven. He gave us, mom and dad, a huge bunch of flowers to take home it was on the table in a vase for a week.....

    My moms father came to live with us about that time too. He was an old farmer and had a small (by his standerds) veggy garden in the backyard of our city house he would work there all summer long. If I close my eyes and think of him its still in the backyard working his garden, We kids where not to bother him out there and not to play around in his garden but one of my foundest memories of him is laying on my tummy watching him let the little dicthes between rows of corn fill with water. It sometimes seemed to take forever for that water to get to me from the other end.
    Oh that corn was good. I know now that one of the reasons my mom would not let us in his garden and he stayed in his garden so much was he had had a stroke and he went from being my loveable grandpa to someone who didn't like kids and he had a bad habit of whaken' us kids with his cane if we got to close to him. Mom told me this just this year I don't remember that just not being allowed to go in to the garden to play and watching the water from my place under the tree shade away from that end of the garden......

    I now have my own garden and grow my own veggies kids are greatly encougraged to come in and sample everything growing. They are to touch, poke, pull, and pick to their hearts content. I teach preschool and it is so good to see kids who wouldn't eat beans corn or any veggy go out to the school garden to find the yummy treats there and eat as many as they can. There is also a flower garden and it is always encouraged for children to pick flowers and they love to have flower crowns made for them and finding a bug is a joy and as much fun as finding a winning lotto ticket is to an adult. I get as much from watching these kids as anything else for encouragement to keep growing.

  • dances_in_garden
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My great aunt was ahead of her time. She knew what "weeds" were edible, and she never planted in rows! Tomatoes and roses, lilly of the valley and dill, mint and cucumbers all grew together. Her garden wasn't so much a plot as a room with intertwining paths. She would walk through, and touch a leaf from each plant as she strolled, sometimes plucking a leaf to smell it, or nibble on it before spitting it out, or eat it outright.

    She had trees no taller than her head, so heavy with apples or pears or plums or peaches that you wondered how they didn't break. Rhubarb, I grow rhubarb from her garden (from her to grandparents to parents to me) in memory of her, though I don't eat it. This year I will make a pie or maybe some jam.

    She never used any spray or chemical fertilizer, also ahead of her time when having a square of green lawn and narrow flower beds along the house with maybe petunias or geraniums was the norm. Every night after dinner, one had to "bring the bucket" out to the garden and bury the dinner waste. Just dig a hole, dump the bucket, cover it over, and you are done.

    Her sister in law (my grandmother) taught me how to trap a bumblebee or hornet in a "cup flower" - I think a four o'clock. You could feel the thing buzzing around in there, and when you were done you just opened the flower and let it on it's merry way. Of course, I would be too afraid to do that now! She taught me the virtue of a good asparagus bed, that sometimes you just have to plow under the strawberry patch and start from new plants, and sometimes the plants that "volunteer" are the best.

    My parents had a garden because we liked to eat and it was a good supplement. Tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, green onions, asparagus, rhubarb, hungarian wax peppers, those were the standards. Plus three apple trees, raspberry canes, and a concord grape vine (we used to chase each other, squeeze the skins, and make the insides pop out at each other. Don't tell mom and dad that's how the stains got on the patio!).

    My lawn, flower beds, and gardens are not immaculate. I have a tendency to mix flowers and veggies together. Sometimes I let weeds grow because they look interesting. I don't have the heart to pull up the thyme, sweet peas, snapdragons, marigolds, and portulaca growing up between the patio stones.

    I am most likely to garden at night or in the rain, and most cool evenings after the sun has gone down, you may find me strolling through my yard peering at the plants, and occassionally pinching off a leaf and sniffing it, nibbling, or eating it outright.


    {{gwi:336191}}

  • leeandliz
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hello, your thread opened up so many memories for me.My grandma's house was truly enchanted when I was a child. My sister and I each had a "house", a tree for each of us. Mine was a fig tree, and Cathy's was a dogwood. We ate so many figs, I can't even eat a fig newton today!But my grandma was an avid gardener, and had eggplant, okra, and asparagus, plants I did not appreciate as a child. Now I love them. She also had a grape arbor and an old apple tree. Add an old collie-mix dog,a garden- glider swing, and a lot of love and patience on her part-we were in heaven with her. She passed away in 1996.God bless.-Liz

  • wild_rose
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What an amazing thread. I am so glad I found it, and thank you, Karen, for starting it more than 7 months ago!

    For years my dad was a free spirit and we moved from one rental property to another so often I can't count, so I think of my grandmothers' homes as my home. Some of my earliest memories are of their gardens.

    My mother's mother only had a rock garden at the far end of her yard, but on the fences were old-fashioned honeysuckle that she taught me to suck the nectar from. Her lawn was carpeted with clover and I learned from her how to make clover chains and catch honeybees in a pickle jar. She'd poke holes in the lid with an ice pick, then we'd go bee hunting. Shed invert the jar over a bee, and when it flew to the top, she'd screw the lid on before turning the jar back over. The game was to see how many we could catch without any escaping then let them all go back to their business. I was never once stung! My mom told me that when my grandmother was a girl living in north Texas, she did the same with tarantulas! Bees were nothing to her. What an amazing woman!

    My father's mother taught me to pick off the little bulbuls at the base of tiger lily leaves to propagate the lilies, and how balsam seed pods popped when they were touched - "touch-me-nots", and of course how to snap snapdragons. I can remember roses, red and purple verbena, and many other beautiful flowers in her garden.

    When I was eight, my parents moved yet another time. It was spring and the neighbor's red tulips were in full bloom. My grandmothers had always let me pick their flowers, so I didn't know others wouldn't mind, so I picked all of those tulips - every one! They were beautiful! When she saw me and yelled, I ran, dropping them as I went.

    When I was 10, my father settled down, we bought a house, and the gardening bug hit daddy. Our last name was "Rose" and he started planting roses. Before long there were rose beds encircling our back yard and more island beds in the center with little lawn. He was president of the local rose society and a consulting rosarian for the American Rose Society. I'll never forget the time he fertilized with fresh goat manure. All the neighbors hated him until the smell went away! Daddy didn't believe in interplanting anything with his roses -- they were a monoculture, but he did give me on little strip at the side of the house to experiment with. What a joy watching those seeds germinate! The rest of my memory of gardening with my dad is not so pleasant. He fertilized, sprayed, disbudded, and deadheaded, and with over two hundred show roses, it was a constant job, and to me, a dreaded chore. After I married and had my own garden, it was years before I planted a single rose.

    Even though I still donÂt want the kind of roses that require the kind of maintenance that my dadÂs roses did, I still love them and love plants in general  enough to get a masterÂs degree in botany. Taxonomy and dendrology courses taught me to identify wildflowers and trees, physiology courses taught me how they grow, and that course in tissue culture is going to be the start of another hobby!

    When my parents divorced in 1971, my mother gave away all the roses, planted trees in their place, and turned the upstairs of her big, old, house into an apartment. When I moved into that apartment in 1995, the backyard was very neglected, but the one plant Mom prized was the Japanese maple she had bought as a seedling. In addition to caring for her, I started making the backyard a garden again, pruned the overgrown shrubs and planted azaleas, foam flower, columbines, hostas, and transplanted ajuga from the front beds. When I married three years later, mom sold her house and moved into an apartment, and I moved three redbud seedlings from under her tree, ajuga, and some of the plants I had bought into my own garden.

    My garden has lots of trees and only a few spots sunny enough for roses. The roses I grow are mostly antique ones that require little care, have a heavenly fragrance, and are interplanted with lots of other things including wildflowers. What I have is a cottage garden. I have tiger lilies, touch-me-nots, snapdragons, clover, and old-fashioned honeysuckle on the fence.

    Mom died this spring, but when I look at those plants I moved from her garden to mine, I am reminded of her. I asked the owners of her house if I could have cuttings from her Japanese maple, but they had dug it up and put in a pool, so I bought two and planted them in her memory.

    My grandchildren visited me yesterday, and I taught them how to get the nectar from the honeysuckles, gave them roses from my arbor, and made my granddaughter a clover necklace. I've told my neighbor children that they can pick any flower in my garden they want, but they have to ask me first. I think I'll plant a bed of tulips too.

    Happy Gardening,

    Virginia

  • Patrickb63
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow. For a hobby that always seemed so mundane to me the powerful emotions this string has stirred are a revelation.

    My earliest memories start with my Aunt Tushie's (it's pronopunced "two-she") garden. First the wonderful vegetables and fruit she always brought, then helping her and my mom (I was not a willing participant) work in her garden.

    My Mom was raised on a farm. I never knew her parents. Her Mom died before I was born, and her Dad died when I was 5 months old. It's hard to think of them as Grandma and Grandpa when I never knew them. Anyhow, when I was about Ten my Aunt Rita and Uncle Norm built a house on their portion of the old farm. They started gardening, and let my Mom keep a garden there. With Nine kids at home, my Mom couldn't hope to keep a weed alive in her yard, much less a garden, and had not had one at home up to that time.

    I remember eating a raw beet, and being surprised at how good they tasted. I remember the fried corn Mom made with the fresh corn. (Fried corn should never, ever be made with anything but fresh corn). I remember one of my older brothers throwing a huge, overripe cucmber at me, and it splattering across my new overalls. It smelled, and I was so humiliated I ran into the woods, to the creek, took off my overalls and washed them in the creek, and then sat there while they dried.

    As I got older I hated all of the work of a garden. I knew I'd never have one, or force my kids to work in it. Well, I compromised. I garden in raised beds with about one fifth of the space my Mom had at her farm garden. I don't make my kids work in the beds, but I sure welcome their help when they offer, and love having my three year old come out to help. If there is anything better than a home grown tomato, sliced thick, partnered with crisp bacon, fresh home grown leaf lettuce, on toasted wheat bread with a touch of Miracle Whip, I don't know what it is.

    I'll save other memories for later. Thanks for letting me share these.

    Pat

  • Sunny_Sky
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    When I was young, I dead-headed mother's petunias. No one asked me to do it. It was something that I enjoyed doing each day. Towards the end of the season, I found that I hadn't dead-headed quick enough and found seeds. I saved the seeds and later planted them in little styrofoam cups. I kept the seedlings alive all winter in my sunny bedroom window. In the spring, mother was so surprised to see all my petunia plants and praised me loudly to all who would listen that because of me, she had the first petunias blooming that year in our neighborhood. I felt so happy and proud!

  • jeanneg99
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My father showed chrysanthemums in the Long Island Chrysanthemum society. He started when I was 7 years old. To get mums to bloom "on command", you use a shade cloth, and regulate the amount of sunlight they receive. I tried to copy my father and 'shaded' a bunch of maple tree seedlings I had collected, potted, and stored in the basement. Unfortunately, being a little kid, I forgot my 'shading' experiment and the plants had died. My mother came down to investigate the horrible smell and found...my dead experiment in shading annuals.

    Another fond childhood memory (this one with a happy ending) is gardening with my next door neighbor, Mr Hoffman. Mr Hoffman didn't mind that I came over his house every day to 'help' him garden. I didn't have any living grand fathers, so he was like my surrogate grandpa. He taught me how to collect pansy seeds. He taught me the names of all his trees, shrubs, annuals, perrennials...what I learned about gardening, I literally learned at his knee. He wasn't afraid to let a little kid dig in his garden and try to help him plant things, and he took the time to teach me well. I'll never forget his kindness and I am REALLY glad that my parents snapped a few photos of me 'working' in his garden!

  • MeMyselfAndI
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    All of the women in my life were either flower or vegetable gardeners, or both. And my Uncle was a farmer. It was constantly explained to me and shown to me how we are utterly dependent upon plants to live. I don't think most people ever think about this. Anyway, it was from my fascination of being able to help pick a vegetable from a plant I 'helped' grow from seed that really fascinated me. I can also remember feeling so proud when I was allowed to shake the bag of dried zinnia heads so the seeds would fall to the bottom. There were always plants that were 'mine' here and there around the yard. I can remember appreciating sunflowers a lot because they sometime grow so fast that you can really tell the difference, even as a kid, after just a day. I had one friend who was similarly fascinated and we would get on our knees and inspect her mother's impatiens for the ripe seed pods that POP when you gently squeeze them. Those purple clover have a wonderful sweet taste if you pick them when ripe, pull out the 'flower petals' and touch the broken ends to your tongue. Same with honeysuckle (although I really really hate this stuff now - can't pull it out fast enough to stay on top of it...) I loved the pussywillows because my mom was never mad when I cut some off and they are so soft and strange. I can remember sitting in the grass during recess, talking with my friends, offhandedly marvelling at all the tiny flowers in the grass. (I miss grass like that - grass that has tiny flowers - and grass NOT so toxic that it's a bad idea to lay on it and chat!!) I can remember appreciating how the deep foliage in the forest made it cooler when we went hiking.

    My daughter got 'hooked on plants' when we saw a monarch caterpillar in our butterfly garden last Summer.

  • jas52
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Kohl Rabi - that is my earliest gardening memory! My dad used to plant it and we loved to eat it right from the garden. Most people that I mention it to have never even heard of it! Gandle mentioned Kohl Rabi in her post - though I never had kraut made out of it!

    I have only been interested in gardening for the last few years. We moved to a house that had beautiful already established perennial gardens! I loved having all those flowers to cut. We have since moved again and I am planning to start my own perennial garden this year!

    I love this website! Your stories about gardening memories are great - I have spent a lot of time reading them today - I better go and make some memories for my kids! Thanks!

  • babzclare
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I will try to condense this because I could pontificate for hours on this!

    My love for gardening came from my father. He was the ultimate green thumb-he didn't have formal training that i know of, but he was a street tree gardener for two of the communities we grew up in, and always had a vegetable garden as a way to supplement our large family's food budget.(Six kids) He was a school music teacher and when summer vacation began he was always found out back tending the garden for pretty much the whole summer. Of all six children I seemed to be the most interested in what he did-and my first memory of my own interest was when he gladly allowed me to plant marigolds aroung the border of his garden to keep pests away(this was a fairly large plot and now I know why he jumped at my offer to help him!)I was in elementary school at the time. Also eating a tomato whole and sprinkled with salt always brings dad's tomatoes to mind. And asparagus and homemade pickles....

    That was my first taste of working in a garden. It wasn't until I was a first-time homeowner that I knew I was going to be a gardener but I chose to go the route of flowers instead of vegetables. The saddest thing, though was that the year before I moved into my new home, my dad developed Alzheimer's disease and everything I needed to ask him for gardening advice about trees and organic gardening was completely gone-he was just a shell of my father-quite sad. Not a day goes by when I'm in my yard and garden that I don't think of Dad and the gift he gave me. I just wanted to share it with him. He passed away two months ago.

    Just an interesting note; Our family surname has it's origin from Poland and it means 'gardener of an estate' I find that kind of neat. Maybe it's in our bloodline to be gardeners!

  • pkock
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    So glad to find this thread - hope it lasts, because it's fun!

    Honestly, I am not sure what got me hooked. I think it's my tendency to love "scientific" stuff - I never pursued it professionally, but I'll make anything into a science experiment. I got through two pregnancies with that attitude. ;-)

    My grandma was the gardener in our family. She lived with us, and each year we had to have a veggie garden. My dad wasn't into yard work much, but was "forced" into the labor required, turning over the clay soil with a spade and protesting the entire time. Always basic stuff - tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, but they sure tasted good. We had strawberries for a couple of years, and there was a big apple tree in our yard that grew "cooking" apples. Grandma made lots of pies and applesauce.

    Then there was Girl Scouts - one year we had a hike with a knowledgeable person who pointed out all the fantastic wild plants along the trail. I absorbed it all like a sponge. This is rare, this is edible, this is a cure for poison ivy, etc. I still remember most of it, teach my daughter, and soon will teach her scout troop too.

    I was voted "Miss Outdoorswoman" in high school. Isn't that neat? Some things never change. :)

    --Pam

  • Lucy2
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love reading these. I remember going to visit my grandparents in Texas every summer. We lived in New Hampshire and would fly down and my grandparents would meet us at the airport. The first thing we would do when we got to Grandma's house was run to her garden. Every year she planted a watermelon JUST FOR US! Oh, how special that was. We would walk into the garden and she would "double check that it was ripe and time to pick it and she would let us watch as she "ever so gently" plucked the watermelon from the garden and we would sit on her front porch all afternoon eating the best watermelon we had ever tasted and spitting seeds as far as we could. Sadly, my Aunt burst my childhood memory bubble (when I was in my 40's but it still hurt!) by telling me that my Grandparents would go to the grocery store the night before we flew in, buy a watermelon and lay it in the garden "just for us", pretending they planted it and grew it all along...I guess I'm in denial because I still tell my children about those fond memories!

  • becki3
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Can I still step in here? This is such a wonderful thread, brought back some great memories. But now I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and a big lump in my throat.

    One of my first garden memories is of my next-door neighbor when I was very small. She had a gigantic (to me) gooseberry bush that she would make pies for us from, if I would pick the berries. And she also had a thick grape vine that she would sit down with me in the middle of the yard and eat grapes from right off the vine. We always sat on the other side of it so my mom couldn't see us from the window. I don't think she would have minded, but my neighbor made it fun, thinking we were being secretive. She also had about a million plants in her house that she would show me all the time. Thinking back on it now, I realize they were mostly african violets. She was in her late 80's, early 90's, and I thought she was the best neighbor a girl could ever have. (still do) :)

    Then there was my grandpa. When he was a teen in the service, he had come home to visit his mom just before being shipped overseas. He took ONE little segment from her christmas cactus, which had been a wedding present 25 years before that, and put it in his wallet. He then drove all the way across the country (took a few days), all the while sitting on this wallet. Just before being shipped out, he stuck this one little smashed, dried up piece of christmas cactus and stuck it in a little pot of dirt from the ground outside his barracks. I'm not sure what happened to it (where it was, who took care of it) while he was in the war. But I do know that when he died in 1994, that christmas cactus was not only alive, but very, very, VERY big. He had built a planter for it on wheels so he could move it outside in the summer and back inside for the winter. He also had a ramp leading up to his patio door, which he had to remove to get it through. This "planter" was 5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet deep. Filled all the way with soil and thick, long roots. And the plant filled every inch of the top of the soil and hung down to the floor all around. He had to give it a "haircut" every time he moved it in or out so he wouldn't run over it with the wheels. I now have a pretty good size pot of this same plant in my husband's office, where it sits in front of a huge window all year long and blooms from Oct to around May every year. I ask about or stop by to check on this plant about once a week. I'm always terrified I might lose this plant, I feel like somehow I would be losing my grandpa all over again. Or that he might be dissappointed in me for letting his precious plant die after having survived 4 generations in our family.

    But my all-time favorite childhood memories (of any kind) come from my Aunt Julia and Uncle Bill. They had a big farm in Missouri with a couple horses, a coop full of chickens, and about 300 head of dairy and beef cows at any given time. Along with the usual couple of dogs and a barn full of cats. And I remember one time my Aunt sent me out with the horse to get a few apples from the big tree out in the east pasture to make a pie for dinner. She told me to get a sack out of the barn to carry them in. Well, being about 8 or 9 at the time, I had no idea how many apples it took to make a pie. So I took 2 big gunny sacks, and me and Ginger (the horse) set out to find that big tree. Ginger was so patient with me as I stood on her back on the blanket that I rode with (never used a saddle) to pick all the apples that I could reach. I tied these two gunny sacks across her back and filled them up full. (poor horse!) When I got back, I didn't think my Aunt and Uncle would ever stop laughing. Instead of a few apples for a pie, I had just picked enough apples for an entire week of non-stop canning, freezing, and baking everything we could think of that contained apples.

    Then there were the times that Aunt Julia and I would pack a picnic basket to take out to my Uncle Bill when he was working the fields. We would sit under a big tree and just watch him disking the field, or baling the hay until he noticed us in the distance. Then he would come get me and let me drive the big tractors for a while before we ate.

    But one of my most vivid and comforting memories is of me and Aunt Julia sitting on the porch swing snapping beans or shelling peas. I can't remember who picked those beans and peas, or what she did with them afterwards. But just sitting there snapping and shelling, not even having to speak, but feeling like the most loved person in the world.

    I just started to garden seriously for myself last year, and this year I had to have those green beans and peas. And I think of my Aunt Julia and Uncle Bill every time I go out to the garden. I almost started crying when my daughter (5yo) asked me the first time if she could help me shell the peas. She had so much fun with them I didn't even mind the ones that kept flying across the kitchen to land under the cabinets or off in a corner with the dust bunnies. And I can just see my Aunt and Uncle smiling now (more like giggling probably).

    Right now I think I need to call them (they live in Arizona now) and tell them how much I love and miss them, and maybe thank you for teaching me about all the things I love the most. Then I think I will sit down and start crocheting an afghan for Aunt Julia (she taught me how to do that when I was 6). Luckily I learned to crochet a lot better than I learned how to milk a cow (sorry Uncle Bill)!

    Thanks for letting me take this stroll!
    Becki :)

  • Mirri
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My first attempt to garden vegetables was when I was 9. I loved peas, so I wanted to grow them. My father formed me a lot saying it would be too hard for me, turning the thick soil. Then I sow the peas and watered them for about 2 weeks. Then my first dog - who died of old age a few years back at 13- had a friend over. They were just puppies back then, running and playing.

    My daddy warned me, but I wanted to let them play on our rather tiny lot. They run over my pea-lot several times, breaking all those tender 15cm peashoots. Oh, how I cried. Then I took little sticks and tied the shoots back up. Most of them recovered. Then the dogs, Roope and Olga, run the peashoots down again after a week or so. And I gave up.

    I quit gardening for about 10 years. I only had a few cacti which I killed and bought new ones. But now I am a horticulturist. Working, ironically, in a greenhouse that produces peashoots! I think that the wonder of growing, seeing the shoots come up from earth was a positive thing in the end. Even though I didn`t get to harvest the peas.
    This year I have a tiny pea-lot again, the first time after I was 9. I have harvested some, but my dog keeps steeling the pods before I find them.

    When I was 17 I found gardening again, in the form of houseplants. I was living in a tiny oneroom flat without balcony. The houseplanthobby lead me into studying horticulture.

    Now I have a son and 2 dogs. If Pyry wants to be a little gardener, I will build a fence around his lot.

  • prairie_rose
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    my earliest memories. being sat in the potato patch with a coffee can with some kerosene in the bottom and picking potato bugs and putting them in the can. i think that was the way my mom and grandma kept us out of their hair on wash day ( the old wringer washer, rinse tub, mangler days.)

    i remember the smell of the compost heap, and i never thought it was nasty. my grandpa and i spent lots of time there, spreading things out, turning it over occassionally. i think i must have got compost in my veins, replaced all the blood, cause i still don't find the compost heap all that nasty. (compost tea, well that is a different story. lol)

    i remember i hated bringing kids to our house in the fall cause you could smell the crocks of sauerkraut brewing. we lived on the edge of town, and i swear my mom was the only one who canned. but i couldn't wait for it to be ready and eating the stuff till i was sure i would burst.

    i remember we were the "poor kids" but we ate better than any of my friends, and were healthier than most of my friends.

    the garden was a way of life, and everyone was expected to pitch in. and when harvest happened, everyone was expected to come home to can. my mom would pick the weekend and as young adults, we all showed up. 5 women in a kitchen!!!!! lots of hard work, but lots of laughs, too. and when it was over we all got our share to take home.

    now, i am a single mom with two kids, and all those lessons are paying huge dividends. my two are the "poor kids" but they eat better than most of their friends and are healthier than most, too. what i save at the supermarket because of the garden pays the morgage and the extras for the kids. and this year, my daughter is taking an active part in the canning. i just wish my grandma, mom and sisters were here, too.

  • lynne_s
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I remember planting potatoes on my grandfather's farm in the early spring when i was about 4 years old. We weren't just planting a little garden patch...I swear this field must have been at least an acre. I remember the fun we had, laughing and running around in the dirt...getting dirty, but it was ok..we were doing something productive. I remember Grampa explaining the different types...we even planted purple potatoes from Russia. Later in our visit to his farm my brothers and sisters and I helped plant the seeds that would become carrots, corn and beans. I remember trudging through the brambles in search of the elusive blueberry bushes...after a morning of picking berries, we'd stop and have lunch...Grampa would take a fishing line and hook out of his pocket and catch small trout from a nearby stream and we'd roast them on a stick over a fire...just like a hot dog. He amazed me...the man could survive in the wilderness with nothing, and probably live better than most of us do today. lol The outdoors was his church; where he prayed, pondered and planned his life.

    My grandfather, retired by this time still loved gardening and sold his veggies every summer from his down-sized farm. We spent the entire spring and summer there. Everything we ate and drank came from that farm. I still remember how wonderful everything tasted...the taste of fresh food was foreign to me then. I went back to Grampa's farm many times until he passed...there, I worked hard, enjoyed the freedom of being in the outdoors and learned how important it was to treat our planet with respect, for it is what feeds us. It seems I forgot a lot of his wisdom until quite recently. Now that I'm a Mom of 5 boys, with many mouths to feed as well as many personalities and value systems to help develop, the things he taught me are returning. My husband and I have purchased a home out in the country trying to create an environment for our boys that my Grampa created for us...one of fresh air, sun, fun and respect for all things living...an I'm proud to say, we are well on our way!

  • KCtomato1
    20 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My grandfathers both got me started.

    My first memory is of dark purple tulips and tulips that were taller than I. I recall what a joy it was grandpa let me pick one. Somewhere in the family, someone has a picture of it. I was 2-3.

    Both gardened but it was my paternal grandfather that let me try everything. He introduced me to raw vaggies. I still prefer them over cooked. He would also let me in the berry patch - which is what really got me growing. He made a deal with me - if I picked 2 I could eat one. He'd go in and I would pick 'em clean of course taking the best for myself. We both walked away thinking we got the better deal.

    My maternal Grandfather taught me more on the "how's" rather than the "whats". He grew to sell and was not keen on kids picking things he could potentially sell. When I was small I would go out to the garden where he was working just to be with him and I'd watch. I would have worked but he wouldnt let me. He thought I was nuts for wanting to work. He told me there were snakes in the berry patch in an "effort" to keep me out. Most the time he ran me off I was just looking for the snake. Him teaching me things came at a much older age. Im grateful for the time I did spend with them and the gift they passed on.

    Keith

  • bizmhamama
    19 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    This answers your interest in childhood memories in a roundabout way.
    My parents and I immigrated to the United States when I was four years old and I never really knew my expanded family. My mother, who grew up on a sugar plantation, cared absolutely nothing for getting her hands dirty. Our back yard was concrete! Her only gardening interest was roses. I became interested in indoor plants as a teenager and then became obsessed with succulents once I moved out of the house & had a patch of dirt of my own. I even wondered what it would take to go back to school for a landscaping degree, and daydreamed about owning a nursery.
    My maternal grandmother came to America only a few years ago. I was fairly shocked to learn that she loves gardening! She grows guava trees from seed. In her 80s, she still derives incredible enjoyment from simply watching living things grow.
    I realize now my passion for gardening would have been sparked much earlier in life if geography (& politics!) hadn't intervened.

  • stephtheogre88
    18 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    i am only twelve years old, but i have been gardening in some way since i can remember. Some of my first memories are picking berries at my garndparents house.there were raspberries, blackcaps, and black raspberries, and blueberries and grapes too. i could go out with a basket and amuse myself for hours. i fact, i'm spending next week there so i'll do it again! also, my grandparents always had the best veggie garden. i remember me with my basket (which has gotten bigger and bigger since then) picking crunchy snap peas and ripe tomatoes. i love the orange ones the best, they are the sweetest. they grow the best watremelon. the funny thing is, as i reminisce about all this, i realize i'm gonna be doing it over again in three days and realize how much i appreciate and miss it.
    also, the first house i lived in (ages 0-10) was a very small rowhouse, adn the backyard was tiny. yet my mother still found ways to make it just magical. there were tulips and holyhocks, hardy geraniums, daffodils, dianthus, and impatiens, coral bells, and a giant white flowering clematis. When we moved, i cried so much about missing the plants. then, come spring in the new house, where we still live, i got a suprise. there was every plan from the old house. unbeknonst to me, she had divided the plants and dug up bulbs before we left of all the plants i loved. i almost cried i was so happy.
    thank u so for letting me share my memories.

  • damrn01
    18 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Can I step in ? A newbie to this site for posting. I have been lerking. I'm all watered up here-my first memories were my Gramma's Lily of the Valley (oh that wonderful smell) under huge Buckeye trees. Not to forget the aromatic scent of her rose bushes and the way the snow ball bushes swayed in the wind. Picking grapes and apples and eating them right there. Thanks for letting me share and evoking wonderful memories.
    debbie

  • msmarieh
    18 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have so many memories of being outside that they have all contributed to me loving gardening. My house bordered two vacant lots that were forested, so growing up I was always out there looking for bugs and birds and butterflies. This has led to my current home being a backyard habitat.

    I am the youngest of ten and my parents were not at all wealthy (in the traditional sense; though they were rich in love for each other and us!), so you can imagine how important a vegetable garden was. We had three VERY large vegetable gardens (probably total of 1/4 acre I imagine) filled with all sorts of goodies. I helped my father plant every year (at least that's the way I remember it... his version of "my help" might have been different). We also had blackberries, strawberries, plums, grapes, apples, pears, peaches and more. I now have my very first OWN vegetable garden, put in last year and my own herb garden. Hubby is drawing the line at fruit trees, but I hope to win him over in time (not looking good though).

    My mother's family owns a farm in Kansas which has been in our family over 100 years. Every summer we would make a 14 hour drive to visit my grandfather. I would see the puppies and kittens and cows and various other farm animals and that distinct scent of a farm reminds me to this day of those vacations.

    I am planning on sharing my love of gardening with others as I get more experienced. I am enrolled in a horticulture certificate program at a local arboretum and am also considering getting my Master Garden certification within the next few years.

    Such fun!

    Marie

  • steph_oshawa
    18 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading the beautiful stories of everyone's childhood memories.

    I have many myself, but I think one sticks out in my mind more than the others. That would be picking leaf lettuce that my grandfather grew at our family cottage. He grew this lettuce every year and was very proud of it - but, it seemed that no one took much interest in it, until I discovered it. I loved eating it on bacon sandwiches that my grandmother made for me. And, when he used to walk by and see me picking his lettuce, I think he was really pleased. Store bought lettuce just doesn't taste the same to me!

    Steph

  • socks
    18 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My memories are:

    Trying to push a lawnmower through too-tall grass on a hot summer day.

    Eating things in the yard until I finally got something which did not taste good and gave up that practice.

  • janice__
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi all, I remember my mother growing all kinds of plants and flowers ...and they always looked sooooo healthy ( looking back ) And I remember always wanting just to touch them, but that was a NO-NO .My mother died when i was 12 yrs old..And My sister took me and my 9 yr. old sister in and sister never seemed to have the time for gardening or growing anything.I was married at fifteen and begun emediately trying to gerden.But without knowing what I was doing...It was a mess.I'll tell ya ! I killed more plants before I finally wised up and bought some books on the subject.LOL ! But it seems that now ..I cant grow enough plants & flowers.I guess its a way for me to stay close to my mother..Even at my age..Janice

  • Alliegator
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I remember having pea parties at my grandmother's house. We'd all sit around with huge bowls of peas in our laps and shell peas. I'd always eat half of what I shelled, and they were so good. I also remember the feeling of running my fingers through bowls of shelled peas. The thing that amazes me now is that nobody stopped me. It reminds me to let my kids explore a little more than I might want to.

  • plays_in_the_dirt
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I grew up on a farm. We lived next to my grandparents. On one side there was us on the other it was my aunt and cousins.Those indeed were the "good ol' days" Not a care in the world. I have memories of playing hide n' seek on the banks of the creek and in the creek...we were too young and careless to be worried about snakes!(I get too scared to let my kids get down there too much)Picking red and black berries and eatting so many we'd get sick and poop real bad LOL I remember having to shell beans,peas and shuck corn before we could to my oldest sisters boy friends house to swim. We thought back then it was torture but now I miss those days. When we were all together helping out getting to know each other. I remember having cow manure fights out in the pasture because we had been told a story about our granddaddy and uncle doing it. Only they used dried and it was more fun with fresh!!I remember all the home grown food,YUMMY!I loved camping out, fishing playing in the woods swinging on the vines across the creek! I wish I could do alot of things over,I would appreciate time and family this time! It has been fun going back for awhile.THANKS.

  • garden_fever_girl
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow -- so many fun stories!
    I first got the gardening bug when my father let me help him plant peas and corn one year in his garden- quite the honor for a 6 yr old girl! Over the years I've watched as he's spent countless hours tending to rose bushes, fruit trees, strawberry patches, grape vines, compost piles, spinach, tomaotes, and had spats with tree rats. I've loved every moment of it--but I think where gardening set in was when I was first married (the first time). I had two tiny kids and we lived in my in-laws townhouse basement-dreary at best. My hubby at the time was horrible and my one escape was my little plot of dirt at the community garden. And what a great escape it was. In the center my kids played in the dirt endlessly, while I gardened around the edges and watered them (the kids & the plants) in the hot summer sun. On the cooler summer eves the kids and I would wander through the community garden and see what everyone else had growing --still one of my fav things to do. It was a tremendous escape from the oppresive environment of my home - to be able to create, tend and care for things which returned so much to my well-being and my pride! My garden kept me sane and alive- and now it is my joy!
    (ps for those that wonder --there is a happy ever after- I left and am now happily newly married!)

  • asm198 - Zone 6a (MO)
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My mom was the gardener in the family. From the time I was born until I was 8, we lived on 6 acres, right next to a major highway. Mom had a flower bed lining the driveway and a "small" garden. I put small in quotes because it actually was pretty decent sized, I guess. My mom loved to garden and we became good friends with these people who had a nusery. I spent a good chunk of my early childhood playing in their greenhouse and spent most of every afternoon playing there after school. Two plants that I remember the most were the strawberries and the gooseberry bush. Mom never could get strawberries because various creatures got to them first, but we got plenty of gooseberries. We had two plants; one was wild. I cried when we moved and had to leave that plant, even though we still owned the house.

    However, when I was 8 we moved to the farm. Went from 6 acres next to the highway, to 167 acres in the middle of nowhere, literally. It took at about 30 minutes to get to the nearest town with any sort of grocery store and most of that drive was on gravel roads. Needless to say, my parents embraced living on the farm and we could be fully sustained if needed. Our vegetable garden upped to about a half acre, maybe more. We had enough vegetables to keep ourselves and every neighbor for miles in veggies for the entire summer. Plus, my mom canned so much stuff that don't recall ever actually buying green beans until I was 18 and in college.

    I spent our first two summers driving around the gravel roads with my parents picking up flat rocks for flower beds. I believe we had 6 rock beds that were about 4x8 feet in size and one huge bed that was about 10x10 in the backyard, made out of railroad ties. I think my mom grew every kind of flower there is. In front of our house, she planted roses and had about 6-8 bushes there. Plus, 4 or so more in the big bed out back. When I was about 12, she planted a rosebush in front of my window. Can't remember the name, but it was Joseph something. She could grow absolutely anything.

    Dad built her a greenhouse and she kept it full all year round with either plants or tools. We had flowers everywhere and she was kept busy always planting or tending to all the beds and the vegetable garden.

    I graduated high school and moved away for college and it was the first time I had been without a yard to plant in. Just recently, I moved to a house and have my own place to plant things in the ground.

    So gardening was what I grew up with and I'm glad to get back to it. Although I don't have nearly the green thumb my mom does, I do ok. Last year, I planted veggies in pots on my apartment balcony and did pretty good. Got some fruit, which I was happy with because I figured they'd die. She moved away from the farm two years ago because the upkeep was too much for her since dad passed, but moved to a smaller farm. She only has about 10 acres now, but she's happy. Lots of stuff blooming and planted. I talked to her today and she's tilling the garden. I told her to plant plenty for me and she laughed and said not to worry. Last year, she planted so much, she sent me home every visit with a huge box full of stuff. Jams and jellies, green beans, and various other canned items.

    I call her on a regular basis to either vent about something not coming up or with questions about how to grow stuff and she always, always has an answer. It's also because of her that I limit my use of chemicals in my gardens, preferring to be all natural. That's what she did and that's what I try to do.

    I never realized that my limited knowledge of gardening was much more than my college peers had. I believe that I am a complete beginner, but I realize that many people didn't have the luxury that I did growing up on the farm. I am happy to help out friends who want to know how to garden. And if I don't know the answer, you can bet who I call. :)

    One funny story. Right after we moved to the farm, I got it in my head to 'gather' things for the upcoming winter. I was reading the Little House series at the time, which I'm sure is where I got the idea. Well, we had a huge mimosa tree in our front yard. Mimosa have little seed pods on them. So, me in my 8 year old exuberance, gathered up every one of those pods I could find and kept them in a five gallon bucket, "for winter". Thinking that they would keep best outside, I would dump what I found next to the front porch. A couple of years later, these tiny sprouts started to form. No one gave them any mind until...one year they GREW. We ended up having a mimosa tree taller than the house growing RIGHT off our front porch. No amount of cutting or digging would get it to go away. I had never told my parents where I dumped those seeds until I was about 16. Oops!

  • Binky
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just wanted to say how very, very much I've enjoyed reading these stories. Thanks for sharing! Eileen

  • joolz
    17 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Growing up in South Carolina, I remember wondering, as a fourth grader on a field trip to the state capitol, why the state tree was the Palmetto tree when Palmetto trees generally don't grow well anywhere in the state except along the south coast. I distinctly remember asking my teacher this question and when she shrugged, I set out to find the answer on my own.

    Thirty years later, I grow my own trees and record their growth in a diary so that when somebody asks me a question about it, I'll have an answer.

    This has been a fun thread!
    --Joolz

  • newbiegardener2828
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    C: My mom has always taken me to farms to pick different fruit any chance she's gotten, so I spent a lot of my childhood in a pumkin patch. Also she has over 60 orchids, some of which are mine C: so i guess that most of my love for growing things started with her....though neather of us are very good at 'planning' a garden...because, well..my garden looks like a jungle because I decided craming around 30 potentially large vineing plants, along with other plants, in a 20 X 20 area was a good idea. C:> honestly I didn't think they would all live to be this big. But at least I can add it to my 'childhood memories'.

    ---NewbieGardener2828

  • jannie
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My Grandmother had beautiful roses growing in her yard. She had survived two husbands. She'd visit their graves every Siunday and bring back any roses she found in the cemetary. She called her roses "Graveyard roses". She was a "rose rustler. Her secrets werte: 1. she stuck the rose in soil and covered it with a canning jar. 2. She fertilized them with ashes from her coal stove. When I was little, she let me pick all the roses I wanted. I always had a bouquet in my house. The lady across the street gave me some rooted violets and I planted them in my backyard. They spread and took over half the yard! When we moved to the suburbs, I was ten years old. Daddy made a big vegetable garden. He let me have a row of my own. I grew lettuce and radishes. I'd pick my crop and make a salad for my family. I made a simple salad dressing from oil, water, vinegar, salt , papper and sugar. Those long-ago salads were so delicious! After college and three years in New York City in a tiny apartment with some houseplants, I got married and moved to Long Island. My husband likes to grow vegetables and I like flowers.

  • barb47
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I remember putting the little diverts in the mosit ground fro my grandma so she could pop-in seeds and then we would watch them come up.

  • pseudacris_crucifer
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My Dad would bury the fish we caught under the corn. Those corn grew taller. This fascinated me. It was like magic.

  • lisa_neenah
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Growing up in CA, we had an all cement backyard, with a couple of bushes. When we moved to WI (age 8), we put in a garden, but it wasn't until I had my 2nd house that I learned how fun it was to start things from seed. My neighbor and I would trade plants over the fence. Now it's something I just really enjoy

  • jessicavanderhoff
    13 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    From my childhood, I remember standing in the garden eating tomatoes as fast as I could. I remember them being just the best tomatoes in the world. My adult gardening life has been geared toward trying to recapture that experience, although, I think it was even better feeding my niece her first berries. She was just about a year old, and I remember her pointing at them on the bush, us feeding her one, and her puckering up her face at the tartness. A few seconds later, she wanted another. Watching her experience it for the first time made the world seem fresh again, and made her feel even more like mine than she already did.

  • heather38
    13 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mine was being brought up in England in the 70's, three day week, bread and gas rationing amongst others, my Grandad Pop as he was known came to live with us, and started a Garden for the UK it was huge, he provided our food for may months of the year and he gave me and my Brother a small patch each, I loved it and my mum had to ask my permission to to use my veggies! and very often I would insist she cooked them separatly so I could Have "mine" i'm sure she never did, but she told me she did she could get away with this I was always outside with pop and I was happy, my grandad being in the garden was a constant sorce of delight, he was a country man of few words but lot of love, my dad managed to find him a pre-used greenhouse and when I returned from school he would always be there or the garden.
    I have 2 things that really stand out and the first was if I injuried myself and draw blood, no Plaster (bandaid) for me! I was draged out to the watering can, the wound bled then washed in it! it was normal for me, I remember as I got used to it just taking myself off and doing it, never got an infection, the second was my dad and grandad trying to pull out the root of an apple tree that had died, in my mind its was months of digging, but probably a few weekends, it was massive but they succeeded! the celebration,(maybe it was months!) my dad and pop made us all come out to watch the final haul, they where dancing around and hugging anyone and anything, it was such a happy day, actually righting this has brought tears to my eyes, as neither are with me now, anyway it meant we had another huge area to plant, I bet I was the best fed child for miles around.

  • heather38
    13 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Another memory, because it was about gardning I left this out, but reading the post realised the prep is an important memory too, my other Grandparents, lot richer than my others, had a gardener so nothing doing there, but on a Sunday we used to arrive early for Sunday Lunch and me and my dad, maybe my brother got sent out to collect veg, then all females of the family sat round shelling peas ect talking and laughing, I always remember at 10 the pride when my gran annouced that I was no longer a girl but one of the women! take that as you will but a momentious moment for me, and I remember being given a very small dry sherry, to join the others.

  • jacobp
    13 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My grandmother had a little garden where she was growing many different kinds of vegetables and fruits. We often visited her in summer, hung out in the garden and played. It was just great and probably this memories made me want to set up a garden of my own. It's a place of peace and tranquility and is needed in today's life.

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