PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Father’s hand touches our new gardens

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Years ago, when I first moved back to McComb, I rented a little house with a sizable “back lot” – maybe 2-3 acres. But it was behind a fence and the garage, and I didn’t give it much thought.
However, my farm-born father had other ideas and hired a man to bring a mule and plow to till it up. Then, he planted this massive garden of corn, beans, potatoes, peppers, okra, watermelon, etc., etc.
This marked my first experience with a garden and the truly indescribably delicious taste of a fresh cantaloupe. I was forever changed.
One of my first acts for my little Tupelo homestead was to till the sunny side yard for a garden. My son, then in college, helped me wrestle the big ole tiller, and we got it done.
Across these years, he’s enjoyed its bounty, as many of my friends and I have.
And so it’s with great delight that he and his wife asked for help establishing their own garden in Jackson, where they’d just purchased a house. A few weeks ago, we got it planted and, now, it’s up to Mother Nature and a little luck.
With this transition into the next generation, though, come all those questions I asked myself and experts seven years ago. What little I know for answers, I share.
Poor son, he’d worried that his basil is on the verge of death.
His cucumber seedlings have white spots.
Is he watering too much? The questions come, and I try not to laugh because I know how he feels.
A garden is a serious investment.
It’s a financial investment. Don’t let anybody tell you you’ll get it back from all the produce inevitably to come.
It’s also an emotional investment.
Some of us “talk” to the plants to encourage their production. You “get to know” the seedlings and more mature plants as they take hold in your soil.
And you learn a lot about the weather, fertilizer, compost, humus and top soil, as well as weeds, bugs and fungus.
Sometimes I feel like a “mad scientist” in my kitchen, brewing up potions to combat white flies, blossom-end rot and brown blight.
Having a garden is something like owning a pet, although you can’t “board” the garden with your favorite veterinarian. That is, if you’re going to leave town for any length of time, you’d better consult the weather and employ the drip hoses or you’ll return home to heartbreak and withered greenery.
And, of course, no matter how insistent your next-door neighbor is about “taking care” of the vegetation while you’re away, you know darn well she hasn’t a clue and will not do it properly, regardless of how sincere she is to help.
So, here we are – two new generations fretting over their gardens.
But, in the long run, I love every day of it and I know that my son will love it too, as he learns from his mistakes, as I have.
We also will love those cantaloupes, if the squirrels and birds can be deterred.
And I’ll remember fondly my father’s garden, which started it all.
PATSY R. BRUMFIELD writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com. Follow her on Twitter @realnewsqueen.