Some of the most important things about life, I learned outside. More specifically, I learned them playing in and around my grandfather's yard. They lived next door to us and he was an avid gardener. He tended to use too many chemicals for my taste, but his heart was in the right place. His yard was his masterpiece. He had been a farmer of some kind all his life. That's the way people got through tough times back then! My mom grew up with chickens, hogs, and a milk cow. She remembers her grandmother patting out their butter with her own hands. When they ate chicken, her older brother had to wring their necks and she and her twin sister had to pluck them. Compared to how easy it is to procure our ingredients today, it's hard to even compare the two. I might have to travel to several stores if I'm really budgeting and shopping the sales but I am not getting to know our food before I deep fry it.
After living through the depression, WWII, and the 1950's - which were pretty hard in their own right and no one ever talks about that - my grandparents developed some land off Atlanta Rd, back in the woods, and built a house. My parents built there too, as did my aunt and uncle. It was neat living next to my grandparents. It was like having two backyards to play in. Since he was retired and no longer had to raise "crops" or have farm animals, he gardened for pleasure. He planted azaleas, flowering trees, and roses. My grandmother must have loved this so much. I think he pampered her. They built in the early 60's and I didn't come along until 1976 so things were pretty well established by then. I remember thinking that my grandfather was this wise old gardener, who knew everything about how to make things grow. He liked talking to me and telling me stories and I liked listening to them.
One year, he planted a rose bush that was mine. He told me to come talk to it every day and pick off the beetles and watch it for disease. I loved having my "own" rose bush and I remember being afraid to pick the roses on it. I guess I preferred to see it covered in blooms; but if you know anything about roses, you know it likes you to pick them. That rose bush has been gone for years; but when I visit my brother who lives there now, I can still see the rectangular plot of my grandfather's garden and can imagine the exact spot where my rosebush was - second row back third bush from the right.
We have decided to plant a garden this year. I always plant something around the mailbox and in the flower beds but this year I want to grow vegetables too. We have begun planning our garden and will start our seeds this weekend. I hope my kids learn as much from the experience of gardening as I did. What a wonderful way to transition our learning from the classroom to the outdoors for spring and summer!
For helpful information on starting a garden in Georgia, visit the The University of Georgia Extension Service or refer to this helpful article from their office I found online, Georgia Gardens.
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