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Father’s garden

first_imgBy Wayne McLaurinUniversity of GeorgiaAs Father’s Day approaches, I remember with fond affection my ownfather. He wasn’t a big man, but was very big in my eyes. Noteducated in a modern sense, he never failed to have time toanswer my thousand questions. He was never too busy to talk to uschildren.Many of the conversations came in the garden, started by aquestion.”What plant is that?””Is this bug good or bad?””Is that ready to eat?””Why are some peppers hot?””What causes tomatoes to turn red?””How big can a watermelon grow?””Can we quit now?”Railroad gardenWe always had a big vegetable garden on land we used with permission from the railroad.At 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. a passenger train passed by going toforeign places as far as we were concerned — northbound toWashington, D.C., and New York and southbound to New Orleans.We knew we weren’t going there, so we just waved at the people onthe train and showed them Southern hospitality while we wentabout our chores.Everyone had chores in the garden. One of my least favorite wasto pick squash and okra — both sticky. I was the fifth child,and now I think this chore was passed down as the older ones gotmore power and control.Okra lessonsLittle did I know then that I’d wind up getting a Ph.D. inhorticulture at Louisiana State University and do all of myresearch on okra. I reckon that garden got me geared up for life.Daddy never was into “gadgets.” We didn’t have a tractor or evena mule, just hand tools and a pushplow.Having come through World War I and the Depression and having sixchildren to support, Daddy was somewhat tight-fisted. Why haveone of those gadgets when Mr. John Scott would come over and plowthe garden with his mule Hugh?Besides the chores, we did everything else that was asked. Daddyalways asked. He never told us what to do. Of course, we neverrefused to do what he asked.That one time…Except there was that one time when my older brother V.L. decidedif he stuck his foot with a pitchfork he could get out of work –we always worked barefooted. Instead, he stuck it through his toe.Daddy took him back to the house, poured iodine on the puncture,bandaged it and made him wear shoes back to the garden. All of uslearned a lesson: don’t try it, because it won’t get you out ofgarden work.We didn’t have any of the supplies modern gardeners can’t seem todo without. We knocked pests off the plants into a coffee canwith a little kerosene in the bottom. After we were through, westrained the bugs out and saved the kerosene for the nextonslaught of insects.Specialized hoesWeed control was never a problem. We just used hoes and kept themsharpened. As the hoe heads were sharpened, of course, theybecame smaller.That was never a problem. We used the small-headed hoe to getclose around the plant. With this implement I could get rightnext to the stem and cut the grass.Woe be unto the kid, though, who cut a plant. We’d get “Son, whydidn’t you just pull the grass from around the plant with yourhands?” in the kindest of words.The newer, wider hoes were for the middles. And we never chopped.We “drew” the hoe along the top of the soil without disturbingthe soil, letting the sharp edge do the work. Chopping brought upweed seeds, the exact thing we were trying to control.Lots of lessonsWe not only planted and raised each vegetable but picked it,shelled it, helped cook it and, of course, ate everything. Theplate was never passed twice, and no one wanted to be at the end.Yet there was always enough to eat and share with others lessfortunate (or as we kids so selfishly saw it, too lazy to have agarden).As I look back, gardening with my father was one of the bestlearning experiences ever. All of the formal education I’ve gonethrough has only refined and enhanced what I learned in myfather’s garden.(Wayne McLaurin is a horticulturist with the University ofGeorgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

Paralympics to open tonight

first_imgCarrick on Suir’s Sean Hahessey will be the pilot for Declan Vereker from Kilkenny in the tandem road events.Both pairs will compete in the time trial this day week with the road race on Saturday week.Team Ireland took 16 medals at the last games in London.This year’s flag bearer is sailor John Twomey from Kinsale. The opening ceremony of the Paralympic games takes place in Rio tonight, 9:30pm Irish time48 Irish athletes are competing.Tipperary’s Peter Ryan will compete in the tandem road race and time trial – the Drombane native will be partnered by New Ross resident Martin Mizgajski.last_img read more