AT HOME AT KAYLA PRICE 5/13: In the garden

In the garden

Although not known as a gardener in the past, in recent years I’m starting to turn things around. First I conquered herbs; then some lettuce leaves (until the blizzard killed them a few years ago). Now I can grow plants from seeds and let them survive for more than a week! I even soaked beans overnight and they germinated a few days after planting.

Not everything is green and growing here. I carelessly snapped off the tender stalks of two sprouts of broccoli. And my attempt to pry the seed pod from the tiny head of a tomato sprout decapitated him.

I would like to be able to maintain a large garden for fresh produce as well as for canning in the summer. My grandparents and previous generations were able to do this successfully. My maternal grandparents, along with their daughters, planted, grew, picked and sold cotton to earn a living. I come from a family with a lot of plant care and gardening skills.

My garden still consists of four raised beds and (to my husband’s dismay) several planters scattered around the yard. This year I’m even claiming a bit of a flower bed for my pole beans and some perennial herbs. My paternal grandmother always grew banana peppers and bell peppers in her flower beds. My favorite was the banana peppers, which they let me free-pick and eat straight off the plant.

My raised planters were key to my success! They have a water reservoir underground so those hot Texas days don’t scorch the plants easily. And during the cooler months I fitted some plastic framed covers to keep the frost out. I even made a netting out of mesh doors and a office stapler to go over my tomato plants!

Gardening is a way to connect with previous generations and their way of life. A special attribute is ingenuity. Maybe that’s why country folk have a reputation for being problem solvers. They learned it through their gardening and farm animal care before the internet provided all the answers. I think that’s why I get so much pleasure from my homemade solutions to my gardening problems.

I can also understand why children love gardening so much. Every day is like Christmas. You just have to go outside to see what surprises the garden has in store for you that day. Or maybe I should compare it to Halloween, because some surprises are more of a trick than a treat! Earlier in the week there was a persistent squirrel on the back porch. I think he was trying to get at my plants. Luckily Archie spotted it and alerted me to its existence.

I know I still have a long way to go before I can truly be a gardener, but what little I have been able to grow has been fun and entertaining. It has also helped add a little seasonality to my cooking. Some of my favorite dishes to serve this time of year are caprese salad with homegrown basil leaves and garden salads with all kinds of herbs in my garden (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, tarragon and dill).

This year I am really looking forward to many harvests of runner beans. They’re perfect on their own, blanched in salads, and added to quiche, quinoa, and rice pilaf. The best part will be the sense of accomplishment when learning to grow a new plant!

If you try to call me and I don’t answer, just leave a message. I’m probably in the garden learning a bit about nature and myself.

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Contributed by Kayla Price

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