This year I’m conducting an experiment with container gardening. Nothing much, just a few pepper plants, tomatoes, onions and garlic, and a watermelon. I doubt they’ll do much good, but I wanted to give it a try.
I’m not sure if I like gardening so much, if I’m just caught up in nostalgia, or if I just like playing in the dirt.
As children, my cousin and I would each grab a paring knife from a kitchen drawer, a salt shaker off the kitchen table, and head out into the garden. We would pull just enough weeds from between the rows to make a comfortable spot to sit. And then we would pig out.
We ate raw beans and corn, dug up a raw potato to share, and ate tomatoes right off the vine. We interspersed our meal with sweet banana peppers and green bell peppers. For dessert, we’d go over to the cucumbers.
We didn’t wash a thing. At most, we knocked the dirt off of something and then we’d dig right in.
It was a simpler time. Nobody thought about diseases from unwashed fruits and vegetables; we’d forgotten that just a week earlier we had helped our elders dust everything with bug killers, and we didn’t care what various animals had done to the garden produce while we weren’t looking. All we knew, and all we cared about, was how good those vegetables were.
I think what made them so delicious was merely the knowledge that we had helped grow them. There’s something about the exertion of our own labor that makes the end result more valuable.
On summer days, our dinner table would be completely laden with fresh vegetables. There’d be entire platters devoted to whatever Mamaw had brought in from the garden, washed and cleaned, and sliced for easy transfer from the platters to our plates. The only hot thing on the table was the pan of cornbread that had just come from the oven; and if anybody wanted beans, there was always a pot of them in the refrigerator – all she had to do was heat them up.
I have trouble with vegetables from the grocery store. They just don’t taste the same as I remember.
Maybe I should take them outside, roll them around in the dirt a little, and try them again.