My Grandmother's Garden
My Grandmother and Grandfather lived in eastern Arkansas where they farmed for a living. They were sharecroppers, which means that they didn't actually own the land. They farmed it for the landowner, and he would pay them a percentage. I learned early on that gardening and farming are not at all the same thing. Oh, they have a lot in common I suppose, but you have to approach them differently. My Grandmother was a gardener. She always had a beautiful victory garden. That brings me to a pet peeve of mine.
The Victory Garden television show. I used to love it. It's focus was primarily on vegetable gardens. Now, it's gone all flowery on us. I like flowers just fine, but that isn't what I think of when I hear the term, Victory Garden. Don't they even remember what a victory garden is? Now if flower gardens, shrubbery, Japanese rock gardens, and such is your cup a tea, more power to you. It's not for me. My tastes run toward the practical aspects of the classic vegetable garden. In other words, if you can't eat it, why grow it? The term VICTORY GARDEN comes from World War II and meant a kitchen garden planted during wartime to relieve food shortages. That's what a victory garden was. I think at the very least it should still be considered a FOOD based garden. Oh well, now that I've vented I'll move on.
The only reason I grow flowers is to keep bugs away!
After the long diatribe I just made, there are reasons for having some flowers in and around your vegetable garden. Some flowers help keep bugs away. Marigolds and Petunias have long been known to keep BAD bugs away. Additionally, you have to know the good insects from the bad ones. A bad insect, in gardening terms, is one that will eat your crop or spread deseases. A good insect is one that eats the bad bugs. Praying Mantises are great. So are green lacewings and ladybugs. They'll eat a lot of the bad bugs and help keep your garden in good shape. Aphids can destroy just about any crop. Ladybugs love em'. They'll eat a ton of them in no time flat.
Organic versus pesticides
I've known a lot of older farmers and gardeners. One old timer gave me a real lecture on how pesticides helped the American farmer out after the dust bowl, and he proceeded to say that they did the best they knew how to. He then went on to tell me that he was very familiar with what they now call organic methods. He also said there was nothing new about many of these methods. The upshod is that he was pragmatic about the use of pesticides, but tried whenever possible to go organic. I learned more about organic gardening from this old fellow than I have from Organic Gardening Magazine. He learned about organic methods long before anybody called them organic. They were just old-timey or old-fashioned remedies. That's what he called them. He also turned me on to a guy named Jerry Baker. Jerry has developed a die hard following of gardeners that use tricks and tonics made up of common household goods. He too got started by using old-fashioned methods that he learned from his Grandma Putt.
Water, Sun, Compost, Fish Emulsion, and keep the bad bugs off.
The old fellow that taught me so much about gardening was named Larry. He passed away a few years ago, but he knew how to garden. He kept it relatively simple. Here's a list of things that Larry was big on.
- FULL SUN: Almost all vegetables have it period.
- WATER: Drip irrigation was the preferred method, as it allows more control. Also the water gets to the roots of the plants where it's needed most. Less chance of desease from overhead watering.
- MULCH: Seed free hay is a great choice. Make sure it's seed free or you'll be growing hay. It makes your garden golden, well for a while anyway. Once it breaks down you can even walk barefoot on it.
- COMPOST: Keep adding organic material that's broken down well.
- CHICKEN MANURE: This seems weird to be putting on what is basically a music site, but hey, it works. Make sure it's aged or it will burn the roots. Powerful stuff.
- LEMON SCENTED DISH SOAP: Every week or two, spray this and watch the bugs run.
- FISH EMULSION: Every now and then, maybe every two weeks, give the plants a tiny bit of foliar fertilizer via Fish Emulsion. It absorbs through the leaves and really gives plants a boost. As with all fertilizers it's best to go easy. Better too little than too much.
- FLOATING ROW COVER: This is a great way to keep all the little nasty bugs out. You can leave it on from the day the seeds are sown until flowers on the plants come out. Then get it off because you need the bees to do their work. After pollination some people put it back on.
- CRITTER CONTROL: For deer try human hair. For moles and groundhogs, get rid of their food source, i.e. GRUB WORMS. Kill the grubs and they'll generally leave you alone.
True life confessions.
When I was living in California the gardening was easy. Sun was not a problem. Watering was handled by drip irrigation. Mulch handled the weeds. Just mulch thickly. Now that I've returned to the south, it's a whole new ballgame. More bugs, more critters, more weather. I'm still working on it, but it's just more labor intensive. Maybe next year we'll have more luck. I picked some nice zucchini today, but my "Old Time Tennessee Muskmellons" came down with a case of powdery mildew. Hopefully we'll still get a crop in, but they won't be optimum size. We'll see.
Out of sight, out of mind.
The best tip I can give anyone considering growing a garden is to try and have it as close to your backdoor as possible. I can't over emphasize this. Sometimes that's just not practical, but boy does it make a huge difference. It aids in keeping critters away. It's easier to look in on it and keep an eye on the bug situation. It's just a whole lot better way to go. When we lived in Brentwood, TN, I planted a garden that was nearly a hundred and fifty yards from the front door. Teri, who dug up the backyard right next to the backdoor, had never done a whole lot of gardening. I was going to show her how it was done. Well, that one hundred and fifty yards may as well have been ten miles away. I got a serious case of the lazies. When in doubt, I would lay out. My garden got didn't have a chance. Meanwhile, Teri had the most beautiful little garden you've ever seen. Unless you want to owe somebody backrubs for a year, plant it close to the house;)
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis
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