“My Grandmother’s Garden Series” – Ruthadell’s Garden

Garden, Urban Life — By on January 27, 2009 1:28 pm

When I was a little girl, I lived in a rural area in central Indiana. I grew up within a “Yours, Mine and Ours” family (which is the common family type these days) and therefore had three Grandmothers. All were unique in attitude and mindset and all had there own garden at one point or another. Over the next few posts I will write about each Grandmother and her garden. In return, I hope you will write me and tell me about yours.

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Grandma and Grandpa with ShawnaRuthadell was the Mother of my Father’s newlywed bride. It was the ‘70’s and I was six years old when Dad married Ruthadell’s daughter, Linda. Every weekend we would traipse out to Grandma’s farm for a sleepover and Sunday dinner. She and Grandpa raised corn, soybeans, wheat, and at the time, hogs. There was an older man who lived in a spare bedroom upstairs from their 100 year old farmhouse who was a farm-helper. For free food, rent and a little cash, he helped my Grandpa manage the property.

Grandma was an excellent cook who made lots of Southern favorites using food from her garden. Her girth spoke to lots of food sampling while she was cooking and she had an efficient way about her whether in the kitchen or the garden – enjoying the fact that she made others happy by her efforts.

Grandma was more of a vegetable gardener than a flower gardener; there was a large vegetable garden with sweet corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon and pumpkins. At age 6, I Pink Peoniewas thrilled to plant the seeds for Grandma – my favorite one year being Sunflowers. I was amazed they grew over 6 foot tall!

In the Spring, Grandma had the loveliest pink peonies I’ve ever seen flower huge in the front yard. Every Memorial Day Grandma would drawl in a Southern accent, “it’s time to cut the ‘pine-ees’ and take’em to the cemetery.” The women in the family would diligently cut the flowers and put them in foil wrapped coffee cans filled with water and leave them on the family graves.

In the summer she had huge blooming circles of old-fashioned orange daylilies. The three giant patches of perennial flowers were planted in a low-lying wet spot in front of the white fenced barn yard. They did their duty and covered the wet area, while showing a beautiful display every year. Orange DayliliesEvery weekend during the bloom season I’d go out, pick dozens and make them into crowns and wreaths which only lasted a day before wilting into flatness.

On rainy late summer days we’d sit out on the covered front porch shelling peas together from her vegetable garden. I’ll never forget the thrill of watching a thunder and lightning storm while sitting next to Grandma on the porch swing.

By the time I was nine, Grandma could no longer maintain the garden and only put out pots of geraniums and petunias every year. But the few short years of memories I have of her bending over planting and watering with me will last a life time.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

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5 Comments

  1. Mike Logan says:

    What wonderful memories of a simpler time. They evoke a wonderful feeling. We built and two raised garden boxes late in the season and planted watermelon and pumpkin, sort of to see what would happen, and I was surprised at how the kids watched the progress of our creepy vines and fruit. But they did not help weed.

  2. Natalie says:

    Great post. It is kind of melancholy to think that many kids won’t be able to enjoy their grandparent’s gardens due to encroaching development or the rapid rate at which families move around. My grandfather also had hogs, a vegetable garden and flower garden. When he got to old to harvest the hogs, he switched to rabbits. To this day I remember every step in harvesting a hog. Us kids use to play with the bladder like it was a ball. Now, grandpa who is almost 90, can’t walk to his garden, so he uses a golf cart. My other grandpa, who lived in the mountains had fruit trees and vines and made his own wine and cider. For me the impact of family gardening was huge. I would love for my son to have that same appreciation. We are in the city and can’t raise hogs, but I do have a flock of baby chicks that will arrive next week and already have my seeds started.

  3. Tracy says:

    I was also blessed with a Grandmother who had a garden. She passed on her love of nature, gardening, and digging in the dirt to me. It is a big part of who I am today. Her little garden on the north side of Chicago was not very big but she grew some of the best beans lettuce in the world. She always taught me to tread lightly on the earth and to love all the creatures God made. Oh how I miss her still to this day. He old fashion ways are just what this world needs today!

  4. Paul says:

    My grandmother, lived into her nineties. As a youngster, my mom would bring me & my younger bro to her home in “Outremont”. It was in the city. Her garden was in the country. But I distinctly remember her vegetable juices. OMG they were horrible to a child.

    …Where was the sweets & candy we pondered to no avail!

    So while we ran up the stair of her upper duplex in great anticipation of seeing her, we waited for the call to visit her in the kitchen. We could hear the juicer …carrots, celery & all being liquified.

    I also remember everyday after school; my mom had prepared a veggie dish – cucumbers, carrots, celery, turnips, green peppers etc… The platter was empty in seconds.

    I think of them every afternoon when I cut up my veggies. lol lovingly. Paul

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am blessed to still have my grandmother with us. She is 90 years young and still living by herself on the farm she moved to when she married my mothers step-father when mom was 11. She still keeps a few head of cattle and some hogs, but mostly has the acreage being used. Her garden used to cover 1/4 acre and they would run the tractor through it turn over the soil. I still love the smell of fresh soil being turned! My favorite memory is picking sweet corn and taking back to g-ma’s driveway. She would have the big kettle boiling and we would sit in lawn chairs shucking the fresh corn to take home with us. We would throw ears into the kettle to cook and she would put slabs of butter in the water to melt on top. We would pull out an ear of corn and eat all we could. It was never better than sitting in the drive, eatting corn. I can’t wait for this summer to do this again.

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