A few days ago Sister Jane called to tell me she finally got her little garden tilled and some beans planted and I began to reflect back to the years past when Daddy plowed our garden with a mule. It was with delight that we followed in the furrows behind him in the fresh plowed dirt. We usually had a baking powder can in which we put the big fat red worms that came to the top of the ground as the soft soil was being turned. We knew that when Daddy got through it meant a fishing trip to Heartsill Creek. Regardless of how tired he must have been he was never too tired for a short fishing trip. It also meant cleaning the little sun perch so we could have them for supper.
Spring gardening also meant that it would not be too many weeks before we had wilted lettuce with long white radishes, and fresh green onions cut up fine mixed with the wilted lettuce. Mama usually used fried salt meat grease to wilt the lettuce.
Another thing that I liked about spring gardens was the English peas. The late Leo Maestri had one of the prettiest gardens in the neighborhoood. All of his peas were grown on stakes and his rows were as straight as he could get them. Mama always planted rows of zinnias and marigolds in between the veggies.
In the spring we would sit out on the front porch in the swing and listen to frogs on Heartsil Creek. It was also time for Mama to start feeling the ground to see if the ground was getting warm enough for us to go barefoot.
Each family in the neighborhood started their garden about the same time and the smell of new plowed dirt drifted in the air for several days. There were usually several men in town that had a wagon and a mule that went around town plowing gardens. I was told that during the Depression one local man would plow a garden for a quarter.
Today there are garden tillers of all types, front tins and back tines, that can till a garden in just a short while, but there was something special about following in the footsteps of your Daddy and his mule.
Spring was also the time for looking for sheep shower. (This is not the correct name but this is what we called it. ) The sour grass looks something like clover and I guess we never thought about washing it. But it never stunted my growth. I don’t know why people never planted that sweet sour weed in their gardens.
One of my favorite foods from the early spring gardens was the little round red radishes and cold biscuits with mustard on them. When I came in from school I would head for the garden to pull some radishes for my after school snack. This tasted better to me than all the snacks that one can buy today. Today we can go to the store and buy fresh veggies year round but none can compare with the vegetables that we gathered from from an early spring garden.