By John Clise
You know, growing up I never gave much thought to eating a tomato and mayo sandwich for lunch. Or even a mayo and onion sandwich. Corn on the cob straight from the garden into the pot. I thought everybody ate that way.
Later in life I found not all people eat tomato and mayo sandwiches. Seems to me like they’ve missed out on something pretty great.
We had a family garden growing up. It was about a fourth of an acre. We grew a good many things. Corn, tomatoes, potatoes, all sorts of root vegetables, beans, and all sorts of stuff.
It was there I learnt from my Uncle Bob that the best radish was plucked from the ground, the dirt wiped on your jeans, and just eaten right then and there. I later learnt from from my mother that wasn’t the way to eat garden goods… it never stopped me from plucking something from the vine or out of the ground and eating it right there. Over the years, I would say I’ve given more than a few people some sort of trauma by just plucking something and eating it right then and there.
When I was in college I would talk about having an onion and mayo sandwich, and people would look at me as if I was quite insane. Of course, those were mostly city kids from the Midwest.
You know, there’s nothing like a fresh pot of green beans you just picked a few hours ago being served for dinner. Or freshly dug new potatoes boiled up and served with butter and few onions on the side.
Growing up I think my favorite garden related activity was helping dig the potatoes. I mainly just picked them up off the ground and put them in a bushel basket as an eager 10 year-old.
It was always so exciting to me to see the potatoes pop out of the ground as the plow broke the soil open. I always liked finding the big ones. Though the smaller ones, to me, tasted better.
I remember mom would let us pick out a tomato, and then she’d remove the center and fill it with cottage cheese. That was always a good lunch or dinner. I remember, though this is unrelated to the garden, my great Aunt Libby serving cottage cheese and pineapple for dessert. That was always delicious.
I remember having a green pepper as a snack. I still do that today. Over the summer, when the garden is in, I do my favorite thing and pluck one off the vine and eat it right there. I discard the seeds in the garden hoping for volunteer plants in the spring.
Back when I was a kid, I remember we would eat lunch, and sometimes dinner, outside on this big wooden picnic table. It always seemed so big. It was definitely sturdy.
The garden was our source for canning each fall, but I think that’s a story for another time.