|Ina's pretty little garden notebook|
Daughter Hallie commented on how lovely it would be to grow and put up your own food – and to be organized about it so that you prepare for the whole year – perhaps as her Great-grandmother Ina (1870-1957) had done on the farm.
I found a little notebook in which Ina and her daughter(s) kept notes, titled, “Garden Book.” Entries were made intermittently from 1934 through 1941. These are someone else’s rough notes and not easy to read.
Entries made in 1935:
· Peas: about 2 ½ rows, early and late. Decided to plant all marrowfat in 1936. [According to Wikipedia, “marrowfat peas are green mature peas that have been allowed to dry out naturally in the field, rather than be harvested whilst still young like the normal garden pea. Marrowfat is a traditional, starchy, large-seeded variety of pea.”]
· Beans: 1 row white stringless, 2/3 row brown
(Got peas and beans from Bertha [her sister] for part of canning because of short crop.)
· Onions (pickling) – 9 short rows were plenty into fall
· Tomato seed saved from best plant; note date on package of seed in box.
· Plant 4 rows of head lettuce; thin for early use.
· 2 dozen tomato plants well spread is enough.
Canning Record for 1935
|Probably written by daughter Shirley, not Ina|
· Peas: 23 qts. -- canned the 3-hour way. My note from 1934 was tried and proved. Can like this in 1936. Cook open pot until tender, then process 1 hour. Taste fresher.
· Beans: 24 qts.
· Beets: 6 qts.
· Tomato puree [no number]
· Cherries (olivet): 16 qts. [apparently a sweet cherry]
· Apricots (from Clarkston, WA): 24 pts.
· Peaches (1 box Elberta): 15 pts.
· Pears (local): 13 pts.
· Elderberries: 3 pts.
On August 2, 1938, Ina planned her garden for 1939:
· About 1 row peas or less, this of all kinds
· 1/3 row beets, parsnips, and carrots
· 8 or 9 short rows of onions are ample
· 4 rows of lettuce are ample
· 1 row radishes
· 1 row cress
· 3 rows Swiss chard
· 3 rows golden wax beans
· 6 cucumber hills are ample
· 2 garden queen squash [acorn squash]
· 1 doz. muskmelon [probably cantaloupe]
· 1 doz. watermelon
· About 6 or 8 squash – zucchini squash
I wonder why carrots, spinach, and corn are missing from the list. They did grow potatoes, but I think Grandpa Jack took care of that. In 1941, "Jack cut three 10-quart pails heaped up of potatoes – 1 pail Irish C. [perhaps Irish Cobbler?]. Made 2 rows south of orchard. 2 pails Early Rose on flat and 1 pail small Irish C. on flat. Planted May 2 on flat."
I have no idea of the size of the garden, so I can’t even estimate the length of a row. I remember picking string beans and strawberries on the farm in the ‘50s. Even as a child, I thought picking was backbreaking work and cruel and unusual treatment of a child. “Get up!” I remember Daddy yelling, half jokingly, as I collapsed on the grass. I’m sure Ina expected all of her children to help with the garden, but I was never a farm child.
It seems to me I remember the garden on the north side of the house near the chicken coop – or where the chicken coop had been – and that's probably good fertile ground. We don’t operate our little gardens there today because by the same token, that's where our best lawn is. I also remember my dad stirring a large compost pile on this side of the woodshed.
|Ina and her daughter Myrtle (Aunt Lynn) stand at their garden, 1950|
Ina and her children were all good gardeners, but that doesn’t mean it always went well. There were years when the weather just wasn’t right – too wet, too cold, perhaps even too hot. The growing season in the upper country is shorter than in the valley. You might lose your garden to frost if you planted too soon, and in Ina’s day, you probably didn’t expect much produce after the first of September. Hot July days would find you slaving over your woodstove to can peas, beans, etc., as Ina mentioned in 1933.
Eventually, my dad only planted corn on the farm, and he moved the plot from year to year. Ina probably moved her garden, too. KW