I love everything about a produce garden. When I was young, Mama’s, and Daddy’s families planted and raised produce gardens. They planted some of the same things, and a few things were different according to family favorites. We kids helped with almost every step of the process. Our papaws did all the plowing. From when we were very young, we learned how to “drop seeds,” or put a specific number of seeds in the rows depending on what we were planting. Some seeds were simply pushed into the dirt to the correct depth, while for others we were taught how to push small holes in the rows and put the correct number of seeds in, then cover them up.
There was a little saying that had to do with planting seeds, “One for the crows and two to grow,” or something like that. One thing we knew for sure was that the crows would get all the seeds if they could find them, so we tried to make sure they couldn’t see them, but that the seeds could eventually come up.
When my brother Joey, and I, along with some of our cousins, were young we were taught how to pick just the ripe peas. Purple Hull peas were the easiest; just pick the purple ones. Louisiana Greens were a little harder to get the hang of. The ripe pea pods were anywhere from the same green as the ones not ripe to a pale yellow. We finally got the hang of squeezing the green pea pods right at the vine just enough to see if the pod felt hollow in that spot. If so, that one was ripe. The corn was fairly easy to pick, but harder for our little hands to shuck the ears. It was fun to walk through the forest of green ribbon-like leaves looking for an ear of corn to twist and break off the stalk without breaking the stalk. Tomatoes were the easiest with the bright red color hanging from the vines. We weren’t allowed to pick the okra, since it had to be cut from the stalk with a sharp knife. Potatoes were the most fun, I think, since we got to dig in the dirt to get those. Any time we could play or dig in the dirt was fine with us.
Today, I cooked fresh English Peas with small marble sized potatoes, and wedges of fresh sweet onions. I made a thick sauce by adding some flour, salt and pepper to the broth from the peas. We also had corn bread, Purple Hull peas, and grilled chicken. This time of year, and through the summer it will be very hard for me to not hurt myself by eating too much. I enjoy the food, and the memories associated with the food. I love every opportunity to help in the family garden that my parents still have at their house. I still enjoy every part of it from walking barefooted in the fresh plowed dirt, planting the seeds, harvesting, and processing. It’s one of those things that is a true treasure in our family.
Have a blessed day, friends.