Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gardening is in My Genes

My uncle Paul has been itching to come see my garden for a while now, so much so that he even took a sneak peek drive past it last week.  Let me preface this by saying that my uncle is also nearly 97 years old, and I guess, technically, my great uncle.  Today was the day, as I had an opportunity to make this happen while my hubby was giving a few guitar lessons, and my grandma was feeling up to it.  We intended to do this visit a few weeks ago, but she wasn't feeling well, so today was much better. It was nicer, too, because the garden has had a chance to size up a bit, and just about everything has been planted now.  Only downside today was the high of 98 degrees.  That didn't keep them from dressing snazzy.

Uncle Paul and Grandma decked out in their hats by the gate that Uncle Paul moved to his current house from his old farm and orchard.

My uncle has been gardening for, as you can imagine at 96, a great many years.  When my grandma and I arrived, we sat down in his sun porch for a nice little lecture on gardening.  He explained to me that he thinks gardening is "born" into a person, and that the difference between a normal gardener and an excellent gardener is in the little things.  (If the "born" into thing is true, I've got a lot of it coming to me, and some big shoes to fill! Both sides of my family have had great green thumbs! I think I just happen to like to read!) He said those little things included planting things at the right time, cultivating at the right time, watering at the right time, and just spending time doing the little extras.

Uncle Paul's gardening space, being planted and kept by his neighbor

My uncle keeps four hens and a rooster, lives on his own, drives on his own, but unfortunately, for the first time this year has given up his garden.  He is allowing his neighbor to garden on his normal plot, and it's very clear that though he has given it up himself, the itch is very much still there.  It's also pretty hard for him to watch us young folk try things out in ways that aren't the ways he's been doing it for all of his life.

Uncle Paul showing me how to use the hula hoe, and scratching his itch to be working in the garden himself

We were given the full tour.  He shared some extra lettuce with my grandma, and showed us the rest of what his neighbor has planted.  He hopes to can 50 quarts of tomatoes with his plantings.  His plants seem pretty far behind mine at this point, but that garden space doesn't get sun until nearly 11 am.  Uncle Paul always has great tomatoes, so I don't think he'll have any problems in the long run.

After a look at his garden, we got to I got to meet his chickens.  He has gone all out for these chickens.  He truly loves them.  He has one that just hops right up into his lap.  I got to feed her right out of my hand as well!  (Still dreaming of chickens some day! Husband still gives a firm "no".)

Showing me his chicken coop, he really set his chickens up nicely!

Before we left his garden, he gave me a few tools of his which included a hula hoe (also called a stirrup or scuffle hoe), a small, long handled 4-tined garden rake, two pruners, and a set of clippers! I was planning on buying some pruners, so they were a great gift!

I drove everyone back to my house afterward, and we took a look at my garden, and took some time talking about my turtles. Grandma learned what the difference is between male and female squash flowers, and Uncle Paul said he was very impressed with my garden being that I was just a novice gardener.  The heat wore him out a bit, so we called it quits after that.

I don't normally write a narrative of sorts about my gardening, but I figure this is an experience I'll want to remember. I hope you enjoy!


  1. What a wonderful day you had with your uncle! He reminds me of my grandmother, who had a huge garden that she kept up until she was in her late eighties. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed the "visit".

  2. Granny- I'm glad you enjoyed the visit :) I think I'll be gardening in my eighties. I think that is how you enjoy living that long, it's nice to have some things that just "don't change".

  3. Love the post! And I love the picture of Grandma and Uncle Paul at the gate. Now you need to do a stop over at Grandma Edna's and Granny's to get their gardening story woven in.

  4. Yeah, I definitely need to get over to their house too! I haven't even checked to see if she's got things planted this year. I'm pretty sure that that is always a yes, but you never know.