Stephanie Pearce: In the garden

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I have all my seeds for the year, and now, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks they will get in the ground. When I was a kid, we always had a garden.

Some of my favorite memories revolved around the garden and the hothouse that my parents kept in the winter. The garden was a way for Mom to help sustain us, and she was, and still is, great at growing a garden.

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Stephanie Pearce

I loved stepping into the backyard where Mom had rows and rows of strawberries outlined by lines of raspberries, cherries, horseradish and rhubarb. I don’t know if Mom ever really got to do a whole lot with the strawberries and raspberries because we kids always were out there eating them.

I do know we usually had strawberries in ice cream a couple of times in the summer, but I don’t think there ever were enough to can with or make jam or anything. I do remember we didn’t like the tart cherries or the pits that came with them, so Mom was able to use those for canning and pies.

Rhubarb was used in every way possible. We had rhubarb syrup, rhubarb jam, rhubarb pie, just plain rhubarb with sugar. Yes, I wasn’t really a fan of rhubarb when I was young, but I ate a lot of it.

I wasn’t a fan of the horseradish, either, but what I wouldn’t give for some of those plants now. I love the stuff.

The front was where the rest of the garden was. We would play hide-and-go-seek in the rows of corn at night. When we were done with the strawberries in the back, we would run to the front and pick peas.

Those usually never made it to the house, either. The garden was packed with everything from onions and cucumbers to cabbage and broccoli. We had plenty of turnips, carrots and beets, too.

There is just something about a garden. The thought that you can put a tiny seed in the ground, water and nourish it and this living thing will grow and ultimately nourish you makes me so happy to put my hands in the dirt. It is so peaceful.

The benefits that you get from a garden are so much more than just food. You get the satisfaction of knowing where your food came from.

Fresh food tastes so much better and has greater nutritional value than food that has been sitting for a while or that has been treated with pesticides. You ultimately can save money if you grow your garden right and put up what you harvest.

Canning, freezing and dehydrating can help you throughout the year. You get to share the experience, if you choose to, with your family and friends.

Sharing the experiences of planting and harvesting with my kids was a great experience, and I hope they have memories of our garden like I do of my mom’s. You get to share your bounty if you choose.

I don’t know many people who grow a garden and don’t share something from it, especially zucchini. People who receive from your abundance will be appreciative.

So, as I prepare to plant my seeds, I hope you are thinking about a garden this year. There are so many benefits, and the memories can be countless. Like one of my favorite old hymns, “In the Garden,” says, “The joys we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

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