Amy's Garden

My mother-in-law loved her garden.

In February, she wore out the seed catalogs.

In March, she planted her tomatoes and cabbages and peppers in the kitchen.
She didn't buy potting soil, but saved some from the garden from last year,
sterilizing it from "germs" by baking it in trays in her woodstove oven.
She added compost and Miracle Grow fertilizer. ('cause she didn't have animal manure)

She'd soak the seeds in water (some seeds saved from last year's plants), and then put the newly planted starter trays in the cupboard, in a dark warm spot. Because she wasn't sure if the seeds were good (from last year) she'd check each day to see if they were sprouting. If not, she'd replant those pots, until all of them were growing. Then they were arranged in front of every available spot in front of the windows.

By April, the plants had taken over the kitchen, and she was getting ready to put them in the ground. She tune up her rototiller and as soon as the ground was soft enough to turn, she'd be out there. She couldn't wait for the sun to warm the soil. In the meantime, she'd put her trays of seedlings outside during the day, to hardy them to the weather. She would be very disappointed if she couldn't get her peas planted by the middle of the month.

Finally it was time! It was a great event to start putting her "babies" into the garden. I was fascinated with her method of planting the spindly seedlings, now sometimes over a foot tall.
She'd make a little ditch and lay the plant on its side, covering the roots and stalk, leaving only the top leaves showing. In just a few days, the plant would be standing up, its stalk forming new roots and giving it more stability.

Amy didn't have neat rows of vegetables. They were more in patches--usually--kind of. It was hard to walk through it, because sprouts of beans or potatoes or carrots could be just about anywhere she could find a spot to put a few seeds.

Once I offered to help her weed, since that was where she was all day long and the only place I could visit with her. I'd start to pull something and she'd say,"Don't take that; it's dill" or "That's my poppy flowers." (There were also marigolds, johnny jump-ups, and poppies scattered among the vegetables.) She also let pigweed grow to eat like spinach. There was oregano and basil and chives and asparagus here and there throughout the garden, too.

So, I asked her, "What am I weeding then?"

She stood up and tucked some hair behind her ear. "Ummmm...just the witchgrass, I guess."

She also had prolific flower gardens with forsythia, bleeding hearts, daylilies, hyacinths, crocuses, daffodils, and whatever she ordered from the catalog that year or transplanted from a neighbor. She had rhubarb and quince and comfrey and grapes, and could tell you what ailment they could cure. There were Jerusalem artichokes under her clothes line, that bloomed with bright yellow flowers and provided a taste, crunchy treat in their roots.

Amy's gardens were only the beginning. She knew and loved the woods and fields. She's say, "I think the trilliums or ladyslippers are blooming." Sure enough, after an educational hike, we'd find the fragile beautiful flowers where she knew they grew. She knew where lemon balm, witch hazel, camomile, and water cress grew. She gathered strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and remembered when cranberries and gooseberries were also abundant.

Amy had huge patches of cultivated raspberries. Friends and neighbors were invited to take all they could pick. She was there during the month of July, from dawn to dusk, picking and picking for the housebound ones, pastors, young mothers, the sick, anyone who couldn't come. Her arms and face were scratched and bug bit, but she didn't mind. It was her act of love for the Lord.

She planted more than vegetables in her garden; she planted wisdom and knowledge and love.

Amy passed away a few years ago, but many of her flowers and herbs still grow for us to enjoy. We can pass on our memories of her, and I hope I can pass on her wisdom and knowledge and love to the future generations.

Join others walking down Memory Lane at Lynette's Dancing Barefoot


Laury said...

What awesome memories! Thank you for sharing, Vonnie.

Tanya said...

Lovely memories! I enjoy gardening and it sounds like that must have been a beautiful garden. :)

Sue said...

What a beautiful post and a beautiful tribute!

Anonymous said...

Wish I'd known her. Sunny

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

What sweet memories of your mother-in-law...lovely tribute. Your blog is so inviting. I love your header. So glad I "stopped by" on this Wednesday's Walk. Blessings to you...

Sally-Ann said...

What wonderful memories! I am so glad that many of your mother-in-law's plants are living on in your garden

Patricia said...

I wish I had someone close to me who knew so much about gardening and nature. Thank you for sharing your warm memories of her.

Lynnette Kraft said...

Where did Amy live? I want so much to be able to have a beautiful and edible garden. It's so hard to have that in Kansas though. It gets so hot and dry in the growing season. I'm curious where she kept such a wonderful garden.

I loved your post. It was very inspiring to a wanna be gardener like myself. :)

Linda said...

Wow, what a woman she was! Thanks for sharing this story.

My mother-in law loved flowers. She always had some growing somewhere,...even until she died.

Reading this made me miss her even more.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits


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