Why Do I Garden?

| 12/29/2014 12:31:00 PM

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveI'm hoping that everyone had an awesome Christmas and got every thing that they wanted. My wish for this Christmas was to see my grandson in Texas. It didn't quite work out the way I hoped with his coming back to my house, but I did get to see him. I had to drive to Texas to do it. He is 10 years old and is fascinated with Lego kits and robots. I happen to find on the Internet a company that blends the two together and has kits that use Lego blocks to build remote controlled robots. My best Christmas present was to see his face when he opened the presents. It was only a short two-day visit but well worth the drive. Now comes the big wait to see him again for the summer in June.

This last week as I scanned through my usual gardening blogs. The posts were about why they garden. Some were to eliminate store-bought chemically laden foods. Some were about wanting to know how it was grown or what nutrients were given to the plants. The reasons were many and all good ones. It made me begin to wonder about just why I have chosen to garden.

Over the years I have always been drawn to gardening and have attempted it a few times only to fail because of work and family demands. That desire to till the soil survived over the years and never really went away. I have come to believe that the very roots of my gardening desire came from generations of farming ancestors as far back as can be researched. My ancestors on my dad's side came from Germany and Mom's came from the Slavic countries. All were tillers of the soil. I'm pretty sure they all arrived here in Nebraska during the early 1800s. My great-grandfather was actually part of the Oklahoma land rush. He wasn't in the first wave of those who raced in to stake their claims as portrayed on TV and movies, but went there several months after the territory opened up for claims. He just couldn't make a living there so brought his family back to Nebraska to live out the rest of his days.

Every generation on both sides of my family have been involved in farming to some degree. My dad never made his living by farming but always had a hand in farming and most always owned a small farm of 100 acres or less. I didn't know it at the time but those genetics in me were being fueled all during my primary years of education by being raised around farm life.

Mother Earth News Issue 1During the 1970s, I found two magazines that I devoured from cover to cover. Mother Earth News was a new kind of magazine on the racks and Organic Gardening was another of my favorites. I can remember owning single digit copies of New Mother Earth magazines. Every lunch hour at work would find me at the near-by library reading the gardening magazines that I couldn't afford. I just couldn't get enough information about growing gardens.

During the 1980s, some new books came on the market. One was by Ruth Stout about the no-work method of gardening, and Rodale Publishing cranked out numerous books on organic gardening. I never really figured out why it was called organic gardening until years later. It just looked like how my mom had taught me to garden as a child. Even Dad never used chemicals on his row crops, so I was never exposed to the new modern farming or gardening. I still remember that garden on top of the hill by the barn where Dad would every spring plow it up for Mom to rake and smooth out the soil for planting. It was where I lit the fire under the wire fence and burned the railroad tie corner post right out of the ground. Yeah, well, I'd watched Mom and Dad burn piles of dried weeds before so I just wanted to help them out. I was probably about 6 or 7 when that happened. It's a wonder my parents survived my childhood. I had so many brainy ideas that got totally out of control.

1/17/2015 2:29:19 PM

Greetings Nebraska Dave! Many thanks for the warm welcome to the blogging world.....I have SO much to learn as it's taken me quite a few minutes to figure out how to leave a comment! Your vacant lot philosophy is near and dear to us in Wisconsin, thanks to Will Allen and Growing Power. What he's accomplished in the small space in Milwaukee is astounding! Looking forward to connecting all the dirt-filled handshakes on GRIT blogging!

1/4/2015 9:47:47 PM

My family goes way back in farming also. I was about to see if there was a plant anonymous when my cousin sent me some information on an ancestor who was the gardener for the King of Germany many, many moons ago. He would travel the world and bring plants back for the kings garden. He even has a plant named after him. I was so excited and commented back IT'S IN THE GENES!!! I'm hoping my gardening is a whole lot better this year. Last year wasn't memorable. Hope yours goes well also.

12/29/2014 9:12:34 PM

Hey, Dave! Old Dog, New Tricks, here! I enjoyed your article, and imagine that gardening is in my genes also. But, I spent many hours gathering in the harvest and putting away, so I'm guessing that is more my inclination. Since Mom tried to preserve for the year to feed us, I don't find "puttin' away" hoarding food. Larry and I find great satisfaction in eating a meal where much of it is home grown without chemicals. It has almost made me like to cook. Almost! BTW, I was happy to hear you spent time with your grandson over Christmas. I new you missed him much!

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