The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Sandy Laumeyer
Just a Thought 

Memories of Gardening


As I harvest fresh vegetables from my garden, I travel back in time to when I was growing up.

I can remember as a 3-year-old watching my grandfather push a one-share hand plow tilling up our garden space, which was quite large. I would walk behind him picking out any rocks he turned up and putting them in a pile. From then on I was in the garden every year assisting with the planting, the weeding and picking the vegetables.

When I was 6 years old, Mom said I was big enough to help with canning. And so I began washing the vegetables and fruit and then cutting them up. Mom would always wait until the peaches from Colorado came in. She always said they were the best.

I can still smell the kitchen when Mom was making strawberry, black raspberry and peach jams. To this day those are my favorite. After the jam was made, I'd take a spoon and scrape out the remnants in the bowl.

We'd can green beans, sweet peas, tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes. Most of the potatoes, though, went to the basement where they were stored in bins. My grandfather would put heads of cabbage into a big wooden barrel and sour them for winter's use. We also made sauerkraut.

To me, nothing taste better in the winter than home-canned peaches and tomatoes and tomato juice.

Mom made ketchup and tomato sauce, and would can green beans, sweet peas, corn, onions, green peppers and tomatoes together to use for stew in the winter.

When meal time rolled around, there was always an abundance of fresh vegetables on the table. It was a veritable feast.

My grandfather had dibs on the Concord grapes we raised. Those were for making wine. I sure wish I knew how he made it, because I'd certainly make some. However the recipe was lost when he died.

Come fall, we'd harvest the onions and braid them, then hang them from the beams in the basement.

Along about October, we picked the pears, wrap each one in newspaper, and put them in cardboard flats in the basement. When Christmas came we'd have fresh, juicy, sweet pears to eat.

I hear people say they can't have a garden because they don't have the space. But they can have a garden by implementing container gardening. I suppose my garden could be classified as that to some degree as it is in 14 stacks of tires. And I've heard of people raising tomatoes, peppers, onions and more in large flower pots in the house.

Looking back, I think my mother and I put up 400 to 500 quarts of fruit, jam and vegetables. I know that sounds like a lot of food for our small family, but because Dad was a coal miner, we needed to preserve a lot of food since Dad's pay was not big by any means.

Along with the memories of gardening come the memories of time spent together as a family. That was just as important as raising a garden. It took teamwork to plant, harvest and preserve our food. Many times as Mom and I worked together in the kitchen, she would tell me stories of her childhood and then Grandpa would add his memories of growing up in Croatia and immigrating to the United States.

So I had a lot of history lessons as I worked. I treasure them to this day. I only wish I'd written down what my parents and grandfather told me.

There's much to be learned from raising a garden and harvesting what you grow. All the memories you will make along the way are icing on the cake.


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