The Garden

You have heard the term “green thumb”. If you looked up a description for Aunt Millie, that would be at the top of the description. She could grow a garden that seems impossible to me. Every common vegetable from radishes to sweet corn was planted with care, and according to the signs of the moon. I think she used the Farmer’s Almanac to get her information on when to plant, but it was all by the different phases of the moon. It seemed to work for her, I remember helping her in the garden, harvesting some green beans and cucumbers and peppers. I remember munching on a fresh picked green bean, man they were good fresh picked. Think I would occasionally manage a green pepper too, one of my favorite garden veggies.

She also grew some of the best cantaloupes in the area. At least that is the story that I heard. She would bring a big bunch of them up and I would load up my wagon, maybe along with some cucumbers, maybe some green peppers and a tomato or two. I would walk my neighborhood street and it did not take long to empty the wagon. I don’t think she could have grown enough to satisfy the neighborhood, but we did have to make sure there was enough to enjoy ourselves…

While I remember how much fun it was to help Millie in the garden, today, I do not care to garden. If it weren’t for my wife, we would not get the fresh tomatoes, green peppers and other garden delicacies. I do love fresh veggies though….

Below, is a recipe from Aunt Millie’s recipe collection. I do remember these pickles, and I can attest to the delicious taste that thes had.

Bread & Butter Pickles

Heirloom recipe handed down from:             Millie Watts

Region of origin: N/A                                      Origin date: N/A

Tradition: Serve with Meals                                       Prep time: 2 hours          Servings: N/A


1 gallon of Cucumbers                               2 Tsp. of white mustard seed

1 Quart of onions                                        2 Tsp. of celery salt

4 green peppers

Salt, 1 quart of vinegar

2 cups of sugar

2 Tsp. of Turmeric


Soak in salt water. Slice cucumbers, onions and green peppers. Sprinkle with salt while slicing. Add all ingredients and cook till tender. Put up in quart jars.

Sharing History with the Young Ones

A few years ago, I was mowing down at the farm when a truck rolled to a stop in front of the farm. A gentleman was in the truck, along with his grand or great grandson, I can’t remember for sure. He waved at me, so I stopped to see what he might be looking for. He introduced himself and his offspring, and asked me a few questions about the family aspect of the farm, as well as a little history on the place. He then turned to the child and said “son, this is what a family farm looks like. There aren’t many more left like this, and by the time you grow up, there will be even less of them.

He then introduced himself as somebody who lived across the road, and a little south of the place. He was taking the child around to show him where he grew up. As it turns out, he spent many a day, hanging out with Dad back in the day, as a child. His large family would visit Aunt Millie and Uncle Jim often, and the evening usually involved some pinochle for the adults. The kids played outside and enjoyed the fresh air. That is the way it was done back then.

The conversation turned to “What is your families plan for this place”? I told him that Mom now had the farm, and her goal was to keep the farm in the family, and to keep it as Dad would have. I also told him that as Mom and Dad’s kids, we all had the same mindset, keep the legacy alive, maintain it as close to what Dad would do if he were still here, and hopefully pass it on to future generations. He lit up when he heard that. He told the child in the truck, “This is what it is all about, this is what family farm is, and at least for the foreseeable future, this farm will still be a family farm. There is hope…….”

More about field tile

In my previous post, I mentioned that with a 1 inch rain, an acre of ground receives about 27000 gallons of water. Once the ground becomes saturated, there is no place for the water to go but to run along a path of least resistance, washing away topsoil and fertilizers that have been applied. This creates erosion, and fills our lakes and streams with unwanted chemicals and silt that will eventually fill in a lake or stream if not corrected. Not only is this an environmental issue, think of the cost for cleanup and and the lost crop inputs creates a huge financial burden for not only the farmer and the governmental bodies that are responsible for cleaning up our waterways. Don’t forget, that cost filters back to the consumers in higher taxes and higher costs for consumer goods. Not a good situation, no matter how you look at it.

By placing field tile in the fields, the fields will drain, allowing additional rains to soak into the ground. This allows the applied nutrients to be drawn into the soil, to the roots of the plants where it is needed. as the soil processes thru the soil, it is filtered, so that when it comes out of the tile, it is clean water, free of chemicals and much more beneficial to our water supplies.

There is a lot that goes into placing tile, both in cost and in labor. The payoff is in many forms. When Mom’s fields were tiled, the farmer was able to get in to the fields much earlier, allowing the plants to be in the ground, ready for the timely spring rains, which resulted in a beautiful crop. It also allows more flexibility at harvest time, as the rains of fall create muddy field conditions. With the tile in place, those fields will dry quicker, allowing more access to the crop, and a much easier harvest.

Again, the trickle down of all of this is something that benefits all of us, the environment, the farmer, the consumer, and our taxing bodies.

The next time you drive down the road after a heavy rain, take a look at the fields. You will be able to see those that have great drainage, could be natural, could be because of placed field tile. No matter, those are the fields that will be the most productive. As you take your drive, you may notice that more and more fields are being tiled, further proof that it works.