Whitesburg KY

There was always a bountiful harvest from dad’s garden

How about let’s get us a big cold glass of water, find us a nice shade tree to sit under, and just let our mind wander back through the ages.

I bet you thought I was gonna say a big cold glass of beer, didn’t you? There ain’t gonna be no days like that. I been there and done that, almost 40 years ago.

Anyway, like I started to say, let’s let our mind stray way back yonder about 60 years to a time when people knew how to make do with simple fare. If they needed an item and didn’t have the money to pay for it, they would first try doing without it. If they absolutely couldn’t do without it, they would usually find a way to make it. Most of the time they would figure a way to make till they could come up with money or something else to pay for it.

My dad solved a problem in much the same manner. He never did have much money and nothing for emergencies even though he worked on the railroad five days a week. If there had been a train wreck he would be gone for days.

Dad always had a good-sized garden patch and was just as careful in that as he was in other things. I don’t remember him ever failing to have a bountiful harvest.

I can remember times when one of the well-wishing neighbors would be walking along the road and saw Dad and his two boys working in the garden and offer some free advice. Sometimes if Dad was doing some planting, they would tell him that he was planting on the wrong signs of the moon, to which Dad’s reply would always be the same. He would reply that he wasn’t planting on the moon, he was planting in the ground.

Dad could make a sack of fertilizer go further than anyone I ever saw. He didn’t fertilize anything until it came up except potatoes. When he was ready to fertilize he would take a hoe handle or stick and make a small hole in the ground about six inches above the plant. One of us boys would put one tablespoon of fertilizer in the hole and the other one would put dirt over it. We did one at a time until we did every plant in the garden that hadn’t been fertilized.

When he set out cabbage or tomato plants, he would coat the roots with mud. I don’t really know what that did for them, but he seldom ever lost a plant.

He didn’t coat sweet potato slips with a mud bath. When it was nearing time for the first frost, Dad watched like a hawk for the weather to change. If it did frost, he would go to the sweet potato patch and with knife in hand he would cut the vines loose from the potato hills to keep the freeze from going to the potatoes. He would dig them that Saturday. He never would dig his Irish potatoes until after the first frost either.

I always loved to gather corn in the fall but hated to fodder, whether it was tops or blades. If there was only one saddler in the whole corn patch, I would be sure to get introduced. If any of you don’t know what a saddler is, it is a corn worm about 10 times as powerful as a stinging nettle. It ain’t mean sometimes, it is mean all the time and would make you itch for quite a spell.

I doubt there is any type of bread which could compare to the good old gritted bread. If you have never tried it, you have really missed out on a traditional treat and that, my friends, ain’t no lie.

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