Later, to the relief of most of them, we moved to the edge of town on an acre of land and my dad was in heaven! Our plot of land was long and narrow, and the back half became his garden and orchard. He planted tomatoes, onions, okra, squash, beans, peppers, corn, strawberries, sweet potatoes,cucumbers, watermelons and cantaloupes. He grew apple, peach and plum trees and had a few blackberry vines along the fence.
Each evening, he came home from work, ate his dinner and headed out to the garden, where he stayed until dark. He plowed, hoed and watered it lovingly. The rows were straight, the plants grew tall and strong, and it was impossible to find a weed anywhere. After he retired, he would sometimes be out there even before he had his breakfast. In the afternoon, with the sun bearing down, he would remove his shirt, drink a little water, and just keep hoeing and plowing that garden.
His garden yielded enough that we had to buy a large, chest-type freezer to hold it all. He took boxes of tomatoes and squash to church and left them in the foyer so that others could share his bountiful harvest. He took vegetables to all of our relatives and neighbors. Our window sills were always full of ripening tomatoes and our plates were a rainbow of healthy, beautiful fruits and vegetables.
Every year, my mom, tired from all the work of freezing and canning, would tell him that his garden was too large. But every spring, after much planning and thumbing through the gardening catalogues, he continued to plow up the whole plot and start again.
I wish that I could grow a garden like Daddy's. But our soil is nothing like his rich, Oklahoma dirt. We live on sticky, mucky, blackland and I would have to bring in a lot of dirt and build up beds to have much of a garden. But this year, I've decided to plant some tomatoes in those new Topsy, Turvy planters. I plan on hanging them from hooks on my patio.
Yesterday, I went to Walmart and bought all the things I'll need. Or rather, all the things the side of the box said I'll need. The total came to $34.00 for just two plants! Those two plants are going to have to produce a lot of tomatoes for this venture to be profitable!
I'm sure Daddy would be rolling his eyes and chuckling if he were alive to see this. But that's okay, because I know he would be proud to know that I at least tried to grow something on my own. And he did pass on some of his heritage to me. Every year, I go out and pick blackberries, peaches and blueberries. I fill my freezer and share my homemade jellies with friends and neighbors.