In The Garden With Courtney- Man your gardening stations!! Summer is here and many people have already started reaping their rewards for planting according to the almanac, and some are currently planting for continual harvesting throughout the season.
I look back to when I was a kid and I can remember how every summer my mom would spend most of her summer vacation working in the yard. I didn’t understand why she had six flower and vegetable beds consumed by watering, weeding and mowing. I just didn’t get it. So when she was unable to continue her gardening passion because of her health, I began little by little tending to what she had planted. I would spend the days just as she did, watering, weeding and mowing. It became a somewhat addiction, it was impossible to pull one weed, there’s always another just a few inches away.
The next year, I decided I was going to go at it full force, and that I did. I started reading the many gardening books my mom collected over the years and began to do my homework, if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right. I quickly realized that no matter how much I read it came down to trial and error. Ironically, I received a seed catalogue in the mail and boy did I get a little out of hand. I believe that year I ordered broccoli, lettuce, carrots, onions, okra, corn, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of flower seeds. I thought I would have plenty of room to grow everything, I was extremely wrong! For all of the seeds I bought, if I were to plant everything, I would’ve needed about 30 acres! I referred to my library of gardening wisdom to make sure I planted each seed the correct distance apart and not by another plant that would lead to a bitter onion or create an environment that the seed wouldn’t even germinate.
That year, I had a successful garden of broccoli, lettuce, sweet corn, okra, spinach, and lots of gladiolus, zinnias, amaryllis, hydrangeas, and tulips! Unfortunately for the tomatoes, they had a great start, and then when my dad regularly sprayed the fence lines to knock back the weeds, I’m afraid the Beefy boys bit the bullet, they never had a chance after that.
Every year I try to grow tomatoes, last year, my dad planted and maintained them and they grew and when green and deep fat fried, delicious! It seems that every summer, when the tomatoes are large, red and soft with ripeness, I can’t help but try discovering the love people have for the fruit so many think are a vegetable. I, for the life of me, can’t enjoy one. Put it in fresh salsa, any Italian sauce, ketchup, a fresh tomato soup with a yummy grilled cheese, but set it in front of me just the way my momma liked it, with salt and pepper and I’ll politely decline. They are squishy for a lack of a better term, and sometimes tart, I just can’t fall in love with a ripe one. I haven’t given up on one day loving them, but right now, I want them sliced thin, dipped in buttermilk and egg yolk, dredged in flour with a splash of cornmeal some Fiesta Uncle Chris’ steak seasoning and fried to a golden crispy disk of southern goodness…with ketchup!
Since I began my gardening career I have come to realize several things that I’d like to share: grab a gardening hoe and start whacking-it’s a great stress reliever, just watch for legs and toes when swinging a way; just because you haven’t seen a snake before, doesn’t mean there’s not one or two or a little nest, especially when breaking ground for the season; lastly, being alone in your garden or flower beds can be extremely therapeutic , just don’t take a break and park your hiney on a bee!