Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row
Ok, I really wanted to begin this blog entry with this nursery rhyme quote because I thought it was related to gardening. Imagine my surprise to learn that this pretty rhyme has nothing at all to do with gardening!!

As with many nursery rhymes, it was meant as political satire. This one was aimed at Henry VIII's daughter, Mary Tudor or Bloody Mary. The "silver bells and cockle shells" were instruments of torture and "pretty maids all in a row" alluded to beheading devices that were used at the time. Over 300 executions took place during her reign! So many children's stories and rhymes are actually quite sinister and the little innocents have no idea. But, how can I tie this in to gardening?? I can't. I still really wanted to use the quote!

So on to my garden, the real subject of today's blog entry. My organic back yard vegetable garden is growing just fine, despite the cold summer we've had so far.

The thai basil is gorgeous with its purple blooms and dark stems. The regular (Italian) basil is flourishing...I see many pestos in my future! I even have some in flower pots just in case the slugs devour all the garden basil before I do.

In summer I put basil in almost everything-- salads, all sauces, sandwiches, rice dishes! There's nothing like having an organic garden right outside the door to enhance an everyday meal.

I do have more than basil growing in my garden. The tomatoes are coming along quite nicely and there are some lovely yellow buds finally appearing. Can't wait for the cherry tomatoes.

The (soon to be) red swiss chard is gaining in strength and size, finally. It's the one item I grew from seeds. Sadly, the mixed green lettuce from seeds didn't make it. The peppers are doing well but no buds yet. In time. Patience is a must for gardening.

Organic veggies taste better to me and remind me of back in the day at my Grandma's house sitting on the patio as a child watching her and my dad work her large vegetable and flower garden. My dad would help with mixing the manure with the soil in the spring. She grew a wide variety of veggies and framed the front with several rows of flowers, pansies, snapdragons, violas and many other flowers, to the delight of us children.

Her garden took up half her back yard. It was huge by today's backyard veg garden standards. Or maybe it just seemed huge because I was so small at the time. She grew many vegetables including corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, potatoes, and carrots. Anything extra that she couldn't use was pickled and stored in the basement cellar for the winter. I used to be scared of that cold, dark room in the basement. But it was a source of many good meals when we came for a visit.

Grandma used good old-fashioned hard work to keep the garden free of pests and weeds. No chemicals, she had what we now prize as an organic garden. Back then, that's just the way it was. I'm so glad that the wisdom of our grandmothers is coming back and drawing many of us to natural, local, home-grown food.