I Love My Vegetable Garden Soil!

by Laura
(Lubbock, Texas)

Any time I smell rich soil, so many memories come to mind immediately...

I grew up in Mercedes, Texas where our country home was positioned on a 1/2 acre of land smack dab in the middle of cotton fields on three sides of us!

My dad was a HUGE outdoors fellow...days would find him outside in his backyard garden; mowing, digging, planting, and picking. (And of course, always with me in tow.) He would grow tomatoes, ('maters'), potatoes ('taters'), okra, corn, onions, many different peppers.

He loved the hot peppers and made his own salsas and hot sauces, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and even made homemade sauerkraut! I can see him now, planting that crock of shredded cabbage and other ingredients in the ground to ferment! My father definitely had two green thumbs!

His vegetables, and his flowers just loved to grow and flower for him. He was the pied piper of plants.

His white Spider Lilies, his red Canna Lilies were legendary. Those are two things I plan on planting this year in my newly dug flower beds. Oh, but I wish I had some of his bulbs...

So many memories...I have had a love of dirt since a small child. Making mud pies and putting them to 'bake' on the porch railing...hearing my Mom yell from the house 'Laura Odessa' (the dreaded calling of your 'whole' name meant for sure that you were in the dog house). And, of course, I had always tracked dirt or mud onto her clean kitchen floor!

Being surrounded by cotton fields was so neat; especially when it was irrigation time. They would open up the water and flood the ditches. So that was a special day for us kids as we would get to put on our grubbiest clothes and 'play' in the ditches--which would get pretty deep with water. Oh, that rich dark soil smelled so earthy; so good.

Dad would water our yard in one fell swoop. He would also open up the irrigation pipe and flood our yard completely. I can remember it being inches deep...and wading around in it...until I would see a spider 'swimming' on the top of the water and with an eek and a shriek, I would jump on my dad and he would carry me around on his shoulders.

We had a huge backyard garden, a burn pile, and a huge compost pile all of which Dad was so proud of.

His gardening efforts enriched our table and so enriched our lives.

Those memories are what the smell of soil invokes in me now. So when I am outside 'planting' my hands in the soil, I am overwhelmed with them, and feel very close to my father who, sadly, passed away when I was only 12 years old.

I definitely get my love of gardening from him. There is nothing as rewarding as watching something you grew from seed, grow to a flowering plant, then to a producing plant!

Whether you begin them from seed indoors, or watch them sprout from seed outside, it is an amazing experience.

If you have never eaten a 'fresh off the vine' tomato...you have not truly eaten a tomato! I encourage you to plant a tomato plant this year, whether from seed, or a small plant bought at your local nursery.

It doesn't take a lot of space; you can put one in your flower bed or place it in a container--just do it! But, I warn you, next year you will not stop at planting one!

They are an enormously easy plant to grow...and then just watching them ripen and grow from vine to table. Yummmmm

I will have several tomato plants this coming spring...and thanks to Charlotte's wonderful website, I have 'garnered' myself lots of ideas, plans, and tons of beneficial information on building raised beds that will be full of many different vegetables, herbs and...flowers!!

So get your gardening gloves on (I am strange, I like to use those thick yellow kitchen gloves)...grab your shovel, hoe and rake, and get out there and work in your beds! But do remember to take those gloves off for a while and let your hands sift through the rich, dark soil...and take a deep breath and let those memories of times past spent with a loved one come to mind!

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Vegetable Gardening
by: Daphne

I enjoyed your story. I learned my love of gardening from my grandma. She always had a vegetable garden and a beautiful yard. There are pictures of me playing in the dirt in her garden when I was still crawling.

Now that I have my own family with four children, I too have a vegetable garden. But to me, the garden isn't complete until I've planted sunflowers, marigolds for repelling the slugs, and a row of mixed flowers for my daughter to pick from while we're out in the garden.

It's my hope that I will spend enough time outside with my family to encourage their love of the garden, just like your dad did for your family.

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