I remember as a young man working alongside my father each and every spring in the garden behind my house. My dad had a large garden that extended across the whole backyard behind the lawn area. I could see the excitement in his eyes and in his face as soon as springtime arrived. He would pull out his rusty old tiller, covered in cobwebs, and pull the cord to fire it up. Inevitably, it would take multiple pulls on the cord until it would finally sputter and smoke, and start up.
I still remember watching my dad push that roto-tiller back and forth through the garden while the soil turned from a dusty light, brown color, to a deep rich, dark, moist soil. I remember my dad letting me stand in front of him to help push the tiller while he stood behind me doing most of the work. I am glad my dad let me be part of the gardening experience every year. For me it wasn’t getting the garden prepared as much as it was being with my dad, working hard together and accomplishing something worthwhile. My dad instilled this love of gardening and hard work into me at an early age and it is still there.
I now have a wonderful wife and three kids of my own and often wonder how Dad had the patience and energy to work on that garden year in and year out. My wife grew up with parents who enjoyed gardening as well so we share our love of this hobby together. Over the years, I have felt that gardening has been more of a hobby than a way of necessity, but with the struggling economy, and the problems with produce being tainted with numerous pesticides, gardening has taken on a new importance in my life as well as for my family. Gardening is more than just a hobby, it is an enjoyable way to live healthy and enjoy the independence of growing your own food.
Not everyone grew up having the space or the time to grow a garden. Many people live in the city which can make it difficult to grow a large garden. As a child I couldn’t imagine not having a garden. For me it was a way of life and imbedded into the lifestyle of my family and where we lived. I grew up in Southern Utah County out in the country and enjoyed the vast openness of alfalfa fields and large cattle farms. Although I was in an area where we had the space for a large garden, those that do not, can still have smaller gardens of their own. Many people set up little garden boxes in their backyard and plant tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and other items. They can still enjoy the fresh vegetables and fruits that they have grown themselves. Be creative and find ways to grow your garden in big or small spaces.
There is great satisfaction in growing a garden. It takes time and energy to prepare the soil, as I did with my father every spring, plant the seeds, water on a regular basis, remove the weeds, harvest the crop, and clean out the leftover dead vines and plants when the garden is done growing for the year. There is great joy in the knowledge that you have helped in growing this garden. You will enjoy the wonderful taste of homegrown vegetables and fruits year after year as you plant and care for your garden.
Nothing compares to the juicy taste of a sun-ripe tomato picked seconds ago off the vine or the crunch as you sink your teeth into a freshly shucked yellow sweet cob of corn slathered in butter. One of my daughters loves to eat fresh peas out of the garden. As I look down and watch her eating those peas and see the delight in her face, I remember why I love to plant a garden and why I love to have my children right beside me while I do it. Each year as I prepare my own garden, I reflect back on those sunny spring afternoons with my own dad and know that a garden is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life.
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