One of my earliest memories is being in a large garden, eating a cucumber straight from the vine, and thinking the silk from a corn stalk would make pretty doll hair. My best guess I was about four years old when my parents started gardening. I fondly remember pretty glass jars lining the table filled with green beans, tomatoes, and the joyful sound of popping seals. I thought the tomatoes were as pretty as jewels.
Today, kitchen gardens are making a comeback. Canning classes are offered at the county extension office and books on putting up food are selling at bookstores. I think people are ready to do the work, and grow their own veggies for their tables.
Throughout the years, our family has canned hundreds of quart jars of green beans, field peas and shucked many bushels of corn for the freezer. Itís hard work but itís worth the sore muscles. My girls laugh with us over the stories of eating beans off of the bush, and running from a spider or two. Itís good to have the time together, being covered with dirt while planting potatoes; feeling like you want to cry when deer have eaten the top of your carrots, and laughing at your own stupidity of not keeping them out of the garden.
This has happened to me.
We spent many an early morning, and evening twilight, picking beans off the bush, carrying five gallon buckets, washing, snapping, and canning. Iíve always enjoyed the family togetherness, sharing the work. It certainly makes it easier than doing it all yourself.
My favorite veggie is okra. Itís the tastiest, in my opinion, and very versatile. Plus it seems to regenerate just about every day. Itís like gathering Manna. My parents planted okra and mom always called a dayís harvest a ďmess.Ē You can go out in the morning, and gather a mess of okra, and do so the next day. Itís best to gather the tender stalks or youíll be disappointed.
Kitchen gardening is a chore. Itís not for everyone, however thereís a feeling of satisfaction to walk to your pantry in the dead of winter and choose a quart jar of peas you grew yourself, being confident of the quality, and having a vegetable with nutritional value.
Some would disagree about the value of time. Some would say their time is better spent working at their job because the return has more value. This may be true. On the other hand, as wife and mother, I put greater value on nutrition, and learning a valuable skill than some. I must say, mind you, thereís a reason planting and sowing seed is discussed in great detail in the Bible. I have sat in wonder knowing underneath the ground something is growing, although I canít see it, and it will bring beautiful nourishment.