Picking Bugs off the Plants

We said it was Mama’s garden, but the boys did all the work.  Having a 42-acre chicken farm gave us plenty of room for a garden.  With four boys, Papa and the hired hand, there was plenty of need for vegetables.  Also, during the summer there were the city folks, our seasonal roomers, and boarders.  Additionally, mama canned 1200 jars of fruits and vegetables for the winter.

Mama laid out the rows and told us what seeds and what plants went in each row.  The garden was about 30’ by 50’.  We had no problem with the rabbits, for the seventeen cats around the house, chicken coops and dairy barn kept them away.

In the spring the ground was plowed, disked and harrowed.  Some of the vegetables were reseeded and we had several crops.  These included radishes and scallions. 

Mama said it was important to place the different vegetables in the right place so that the tall ones would not shade the smaller ones.  The exception was that the cucumber plants which could spread out and grow under the tall sweet corn stalks.

Mama told us how deep to plant the seeds and to firm the soil afterwards.  We never sprayed the vegetables, but spent many hours picking the “bugs” from the plants.  We used a hoe for chopping the hard soil and a 3-pronged cultivator for most of the weeding. 

Mama told us about mulching and we placed wet newspaper and straw around the plants to help keep down the weeds.

We never staked the tomatoes or other vine plants.  Mama said if G-d wanted tomatoes to be staked He would have said so.  She said it was like a person walking around with a chain around him.
Now I miss those rich, red Jersey tomatoes.  Here in California we have the pink, greenhouse tasteless ones.  Mama’s tomatoes were large, juicy and full of seeds.  We picked them fresh, cut them and with a thick piece of pumpernickel bread and pot cheese, it was a great snack.

There were peppers, eggplants, zucchini, celery, beets, string beans, peas and several different types of cucumbers.  Sweet corn was our pride and joy.  The corn seeds were planted at the end of the rows so as not to shade the other plants. 

Most of the deeper root crops did not do well because the Hunterdon plateau soils were mainly rich in clay and thus were hard and had poor drainage. 

No, we never had luck with white or sweet potatoes.  The vegetables that grew shallower like beets, scallions, and radishes did well.

After the city folks left, we started the canning.  The rewards from Mama’s garden were plentiful and delicious.