Harvesting more than produce from your garden

Amish garden by Bruce Stambaugh

Large vegetable gardens like this one are everpresent in Ohio's Amish country.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Lakeside rocks and flowers by Bruce Stambaugh

Creative rock sculptures mirror the Hollyhocks in a Lakeside, Ohio garden.

I’ll make my confession right up front. I am not the most authoritative person to write about gardening.

Still, I like to think that I am observant enough to recognize a good garden when I see one. Whether vegetable, rock or flower, all gardens require much manual effort to keep them manicured and productive.

Growing up in the suburbs of a northeast Ohio blue-collar city, our father loved to garden. He saw it as a way to be out in the fresh air and to simultaneously save money by growing our own food. With five children, it was the practical thing to do. For efficiency’s sake, he recruited his offspring to help cultivate, plant, nurture and reap the garden harvest.

Rock garden by Bruce Stambaugh

Rock gardens add esthetics to any property.

Bright lilies by Bruce Stambaugh

These lilies would brighten any yard.

Our lovely mother would prepare in season feasts that included sweet corn, new potatoes, green beans, cucumbers and beets. She also canned and froze food for the cold winter months ahead. If we had had a bumper crop, we would set up shop in a busy business parking lot and sell sweet corn out of the car’s trunk.

Mom also propagated lovely flower gardens around the parameters of our small piece of suburban property. Mom used her artistic eye with the floral color selection to nicely accent the cherry red brick exterior of our post-war bungalow.

Home canned goods by Bruce Stambaugh

Home canning is back in vogue in rural, suburban and urban settings.

Those pleasant memories returned with the current onslaught of the harvest season in gardens all across the country. Television shows, newspaper stories, Internet blogs and even high-end glossy magazines feature how to properly prepare and preserve your garden gleanings.

Having a plot of garden is almost assumed when you live in one of Ohio’s richest agricultural counties. Don’t be fooled though. Contrary to what some might think, gardening is not confined to rural areas. People garden in suburbs and cities, too.

Herb garden by Bruce Stambaugh

Even small backyard plot provides fresh herbs and vegetables.

With the advent of the organic, all natural craze, and the tough economy, gardening appears to have made a universal comeback. Whether you have an acre or simply a few pots of herbs sitting on an apartment balcony, gardening is good.

Caring for tender plants, watering them, protecting them from weather’s extremes and pesky insects is worthwhile work with tasty rewards. I see it as a way to get us back to our roots, reconnected to the soil from which and on which all life depends.

Lakeside community garden by Bruce Stambaugh

A community garden in Lakeside, Ohio.

If we are mindful, we will recognize that gardening provides a solid base that can lead to other returns as well. Cooperative gardens, sponsored by both church and civic organizations, have sprung up across the country. Besides those who garden, the abundant produce often helps the less fortunate, the homeless and the needy.

An acquaintance told me how his parents would load up their battered family pickup with the excess of their giant two-acre garden, head into town and end up on the wrong side of the tracks. There they would park the truck and hand out the fresh, healthy produce to whomever needed it.

They repeated the routine throughout the growing season. The thankful recipients were so moved by the family’s generosity that they offered to help plant and maintain the garden the next growing season. Their grateful offer was accepted, and new trust and friendships were born.

Flower garden by Bruce Stambaugh

If properly planned and planted, flower gardens can brighten a property throughout the growing season.

Gardens connect us to the soil that yields our sustenance. If we are proactive, they also open our lives to much more than delicious food. Gardening doesn’t get any more satisfying and splendid than gathering two crops from one planting.

Lakeside flower garden by Bruce Stambaugh

An award-winning flower garden at Lakeside, Ohio.

6 Comments

Filed under column, family, Lakeside, Ohio, photography, writing

6 responses to “Harvesting more than produce from your garden

  1. Hi this is max h i’m the one who made the rock stacks im glad you like them i have been going to lksd for ten years going on 11 im 15 years old see more in 2012 july

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    • Thanks, Max, for visiting my blog. It’s nice to know who made the rock art sculpture and those in the sand, too. Very nice. Perhaps we’ll meet one another next summer. Blessings. Bruce

      Like

      • Dawn Harris, Max's mom

        Bruce,

        Max and family will be at Lakeside from June 30th through July 14th in 2012 making rock and sand sculptures. Max and the neighbor, Lu, who owns the garden property, are entering their 2012 version of the rock/flower garden in the annual LKSD garden contest. See you at the beach! And on the rocks!

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      • We’ll be there for part of that time, too. It would be nice to meet you and your family. I usually walk the shoreline each morning, like many others. Just look for the guy with the Lakeside hat and white beard :-).

        Enjoy your time at Lakeside.

        Bruce

        Like

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