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!