A Wee Bit of Satisfaction in 2020
Just a wee bit of satisfaction when you use an ingredient for a dish that you grew from seed. Who am I kidding? It’s a whole lot of satisfaction. This year, I made pumpkin pie using a candy roaster that I grew from seed. And it WAS satisfying. I knew when I planted what I was going to use it for. I watched those plants and fruit very closely knowing each and every time I had a plan for them.
Candy roasters are an heirloom winter squash that was originally selected and grown from the Cherokee Nation out of north Georgia. The candy roaster is popular in north Georgia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee. They can get quite large with each fruit averaging 10 to 12 lbs. When small, they are yellow, but as they mature they turn more of an orangish beige color with a blue tip at the flower end. They take about 100 days to reach maturity.
At the start of the pandemic with an uncertain future, people made runs to grocery stores to stock up on food and other essentials. No one knew how the pandemic would affect our food supply. People thought back to their parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents (depending on your age) and how they grew gardens to supply some of their food needs.
Some of my most vivid childhood memories are helping my parents in our large backyard garden. My dad’s responsibility was plowing, planting, and harvesting. My mom’s responsibility was food processing, preservation, and preparation. Their four daughters–me included–helped with harvesting and processing. I remember harvesting beans and tomatoes. I remember snapping beans sitting at the kitchen table.
I also vividly remember the storage area with all the processed goods. We had shelves of tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, green beans, and the best pickles in Campbell County. I really loved those pickles. Years later, a childhood friend reminded me, “Your mom made the best spaghetti sauce.” My mom made her spaghetti sauce from the canned tomatoes. I just remembered the splattered mess on the stovetop. My friend was right. It was the best spaghetti sauce.
In the past, many people grew gardens out of necessity. My dad was a public servant with an income that would not support a 6-person household. The garden helped to reduce our food bill. The garden also gave my dad an outlet for stress with a stressful job…or living in a house full of women.
For whatever reason, many people have stopped growing backyard gardens to supplement their food needs. People who lived during the Depression relied on their gardens for food. As times got better, children and grandchildren of the Depression era bought store goods because it was a sign that they had money. It was a sign of success. If you had a garden, you were poor. For others, time constraints are an issue. We became a society with both heads of household working outside of the home. There was no time to have a garden. We started relying on fast food and convenience as we ran from here to there. No time to cook using fresh, raw ingredients.
In 2020, I LOVED that some of us went back to the basics. With the pandemic, our society slowed. All or our activities were cancelled. We now had the time. The time to do what our parents or grandparents did often out of necessity. We grew gardens. Food security was at the forefront of our thoughts as well as self sufficiency and resilience. We also spent more time in the kitchen cooking with raw ingredients instead of the easy route of convenience and fast food.
If you grew a garden this year, I hope you get the same satisfaction I get when I use the fruits of my labor. Even if it is a simple tomato sandwich. It may be simple, but oh so good and satisfying. If you want to experiment with growing a garden in 2021, please call the Extension office for tips. Extension has expertise in home gardening and food preservation. My dad called our local Extension office when he was experiencing problems with his tomatoes. He had planted too close to a walnut tree. (Google it). Get your children involved. I am getting older, and my memories are sparse. But I remember my time working in the garden with my sisters. Make lasting memories with your children. Now please excuse me while I enjoy this pumpkin pie!