by Jean Gordon
Shooting out from under the winter soil, the bright yellow blooms of daffodils reminded me spring is just around the corner. Even with dustings of winter snow, the daffodils and the purple crocus are evidence Spring will be here in 19 days. I for one am ready.
The first sight of the daffodils brought a big smile and the tiny crocus an “awww.”I can hardly wait for the tulips to push through and the other spring flowers.
It’s been a long time ago now it seems, but there was a day as a young teenager when spring planting had nothing to do with flowers. Our family of six always had a large vegetable garden where everything that was possible to grow was planted. We didn’t plant flowers because we needed the space for food we could eat, my Daddy always told me when asked about flowers.
To feed a family of six during the summer months and putting enough food away for the winter months took a lot of garden space.
As winter turned to spring, my sisters and parents spent many hours preparing the garden for the new planting. I have never forgotten how it felt to walk barefoot through a freshly plowed garden spot after Daddy had turned the soil that had been covered under for months. Even as warm as the sun may have been on our backs, the soil was always refreshingly cool. I’d kick the soil and even pick it up with my toes.
Most of the time my sisters and I would prepare the small hills of soil to plant cucumber and squash seed. After delicately placing the seed exactly where we were told, we’d gently cover the seed.
Our green beans, corn, peas, peppers, and other vegetable seeds were planted in freshly plowed long rows. There was no such thing as getting in a hurry to drop seed. It was a delicate process and I was often the one walking behind the tractor as Daddy turned over the soil. With eyes in the back of his head, he knew when I’d dropped too many seed in one spot and there was to be a replanting.
The tomato planting required many more steps. After a year or so of starting the tomato plants from seed in small greenhouses all over the house, we graduated to the tomato plant. Good idea. One sister would dig a hole for the tomato plant and fill it with water, another would drop the plant and the other would pull the soil up to the plant. For week’s we’d dig out the weeds, fertilize, tie the tomato plants with fabric scraps and even put hollow tin cans around the tomato plant to keep them growing straight. We even put newspapers in the middle of the rows to keep weeds out.
Our biggest tomato crop was 350 plants. That meant 350 tin gallon cans tied together and stored under the shed until Spring.
After my sisters and I left home, the garden plots only grew larger. Mother retired at age 40 from her public job where she made dresses for the Tanner Companies as she fulfilled a dream. When her last child completed college, she’d made herself a goal — go home and make a living. While Daddy continued his job at Stonecutter, Mama worked at home for her contribution to the family budget.
Even after leaving home, my sisters and I always showed up at the house on Good Friday to help our parents on what was the biggest planting day of the year. It was a long day and was not easy.
Mama took great pride in her garden. It was weedless. Vegetables grew in beautiful straight, long rows and the garden was the envy of other vegetable gardeners. Folks often came to visit and before they left, Mama would take them to the garden.
But there was was one big difference about planting after my sisters and I left home. Mama began to utilize some of her garden space for flowers.
After the danger of a late frost had passed, she’d begin to plant her wildflowers. Along the roadway in a larger garden plot were Cosmos, Poppies and some Bachelor Buttons. In colors of red, pink, white, and purple, the flowers became an awesome backdrop for vegetables planted in the remaining area.
At an antique store in Hendersonville a few summers ago I spotted a large painting of Cosmos and Bachelor Buttons. I knew immediately that painting belonged at my house.
To this day when I see Bachelor Buttons in fields off the road, it is difficult for me to stay in the car. I have been known to call friends and ask to borrow a few of the pink, purple and white Bachelor Buttons.
Spring also brings a renewal to our minds, bodies and souls.
It’s the time for digging out the old and putting in the new and watching it grow both physically, mentally and spiritually.
As a young woman I didn’t look forward to the long hours of gardening. It was extremely hard work. I will admit though, it’d be an awesome day if just once again my family could all gather in the field on Good Friday and plant the seeds in the earth and witness the new growth together.
Even the thought of such a Spring day brings joy and peace as I remember the colors of the season. There is a new day dawning.