Last week, I planted my summer garden.
I started by digging up the soil in my raised bed. Then, I hoed the dirt, raked it, poured manure on it and then raked it again.
After watering the plot, I planted tomatoes, squash, green beans, green peppers and lettuce.
Doing this brought back memories of father’s vegetable garden.
One day, back in the late 1950s, my dad came home from a rough day at work and said, “This year I will plant a summer vegetable garden, like my father did.”
Sure enough, that weekend, Dad began to dig in the back yard.
Soon, he had dug up almost one third of the yard.
After digging, he hoed the soil until it had a nice even texture, then he amended it with fertilizer. Finally, he raked the soil into neat rows with watering channels in between, and planted different vegetables in each row: tomatoes, green beans, squash, cucumbers, radishes and lettuce.
We were skeptical.
After all, don’t they sell all these things in the store.
But, within a few weeks, the little plants began rising from the soil. It seemed like a miracle.
By summertime, a full-fledged vegetable garden filled the back part of our yard.
Dad had done it: grown a garden just like his step father, Rosario Petta did in his big side yard.
During the great depression, Rosario had fed his big family with the vegetables he grew in his yard. Now Dad would feed us with the bounty harvested from his plot.
We grew to love the produce harvested from Dad’s garden: the fresh green lettuce, the sautéed squash, the tender green beans and crisp cucumbers. Vegetables grown in our own garden did, indeed, taste much better than those from the store.
Dad even cooked up fresh tomato sauce for spaghetti, just like Grandma Petta made.
Growing his own summer garden did more for Dad then just provide food for the table. It relieved the stress from his job, and gave him a connection to the earth. He worked in that garden right up until the day he died.
Now, as I plant my summer vegetables, I think of Dad and the wonderful things he grew. I hope that someday my daughter will grow vegetables in her own garden. She is already a wonderful cook.
Now the thought of my Dad’s summer harvest is just another bountiful Janey Way memory.