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My first garden

by Malcolm Beck

As a very young toddler I always wanted to help mama in the garden. My help mostly was stepping on or pulling up mom’s young transplants. Paddling didn't faze me; I was still always in her way. To solve that problem mom gave me some large white seeds then chose a spot a few steps away and told me I should plant my own garden. I took mom’s hoe and chopped around until I had the soil in some resemblance of mom’s beds then I planted my four seeds. Every morning early I would be out looking for my little plants. The suspense was really getting me. Finally, the miracle happened, all four of my seeds were up sprouting two big green leaves each. Now the suspense was waiting for my plants to do something other than grow green and big.

Mom always let me go in the pen with her to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. I was always barefooted and would step in the chicken mess and of course I got a scolding or paddling. Later, mom was getting baskets full of dried chicken mess and putting it in her garden. Curiously, I ask mom why she was putting chicken mess around her plants? She responded, it’s food for the plants. Now I was really puzzled, plants eat chicken mess!!

This I had to watch. After some time I noticed the mess beginning to fade away, soon it was all gone. The plants must have eaten it.

I decided my four plants would need something to eat also but I sure wasn't going to give my plants chicken mess. One of my chores as a child was to take the kitchen scraps and throw them to the chickens. If that were chicken feed why wouldn't my plants also eat it? I would take the potato, apple and banana peelings and put them around my plants and they too disappeared into the soil but not as fast as mom’s chicken mess did.

It seamed like a really long time before it happened but my plants finally got some really big pretty yellow flowers. I wanted to pick them but, mamma said don't, because in a few days we would have squash to eat.

My mother must have known what she was doing. By telling me I could have my own garden and giving me those big white seeds that can easily emerge through hard soil, grow fast, have big yellow flowers, and quickly make big and beautiful yellow fruit she got me hooked on gardening forever and even love to eat squash.

Squash pest out flanked

Summer squash, yellow, zucchini, and white scalloped were always part on out garden and one of our main vegetables on our truck farm, squash were next to tomatoes in sales. On a farm with large planting of squash the squash vine borer don't exist. For some un-known reason the squash vine borer will not attack large plantings. But they will get every plant in a home garden and shorten its life span. Squash bugs are another big problem for the home gardener; on the farm squash bugs are there, but so scattered, they do little damage. Powdery mildew is another problem the gardener and farmer have to contend with after humid, rainy and cloudy conditions. On our organic farm the good, fertile and healthy soil help over come all of these conditions to where problems were so low we never bothered with any control.

There is one squash variety for the gardener and farmer that is delicious to eat and immune to all of the problems that pelage the other varieties. Tatume, a perfectly round green squash that is best harvested when about the size of a baseball or little larger. If left on the vine it will turn into a 6 to 8 inch golden pumpkin.

Plant this squash, using plenty of compost, early in the spring and if kept watered you will still be eating squash until it gets too cold in the Fall. Tatume is a veining squash that is not bothered by the squash vine borer, the squash bug or mildew; in fact I have never had any past problems on it.

There is one problem with this squash, it grows and grows and grows. We have had one plant cover an area 29 ft. by 29 ft. We ate all we could, gave away what we could, fed the rest to the goats until they got tired of it.

Malcolm Beck

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last updated:  January 14, 2004