This was one of the few things that “pert nigh” everybody had or at least needed to survive. Man can not live by bread alone; he must have some fresh vegetables out of the garden. As my “pore” old country, hard-working rednecks know, you don’t wake up one day and a previous back yard automatically is transformed into a garden. When I was growing up, everyone decided the proper terminology for the location was called a garden spot. After working a garden for a few days in the blazing, bearing down sun, I know why it was a spot or maybe caused dancin’ spots before yo’ eyes.
Friends, there was a time years ago, if you wanted some grub for the table, it was grown a short distance from the big house. After conferring with some of my brilliant senior citizens there was a lot of studying before a final decision concerning the location of the garden spot? City slickers couldn’t comprehend this intellectual approach.
First, the spot needs to be close to the big house to shear down the walking. Secondly, the well’s near the back door, so water had to be hand drawn as this saved toting slop buckets and maybe barrels of the liquid a short distance to the garden. Thirdly, a spot should be completely out open in the sun, as the Good Lord wants plenty of rays and raindrops for the vegetation. The lay should be flat but with some degree a slight slope, to slow down or let the water ease off. You don’t want a lob lolly similar to a Hampshire sow hog wallow. It might come a frog strangler.
We always ran our rows north and south. I asked Daddy why the certain directions and his usual reply was, “That is the way his daddy and granddaddy done it.” That was good enough for me. There were a few more small items, but another big one, was the odor from the garden, especially if the wind shifted. All country folks know and understand if you want a good garden it absolutely must be fertilized with good barnyard manure. Rightfully so. Although John Smith and the pilgrims used some fish, our small ponds with perch and bream couldn’t furnish us enough to produce any growth.
Neighbor, I’m not saying what is right or wrong. There may have been some better or easier ways to select a garden spot, but that is how Daddy did it and it worked for us. My Southern, hard-working, country green thumb geniuses know what I mean.
Can you imagine someone approaching a Harvard graduate (someone educated above their capacity) that had never seen a garden and tell him, “Hey Bubba, calculate me a good garden spot.” Now that smart fella’ would slip his slide rule and it would go zip-zap. He’d probably finger punch all kinds of buttons on ’em black shiny machines with long wires dangling off his desk and Washington would think another war had erupted just past the Potomac River. Lightnin’ flashin’ and thunder rollin’. I’d say this self-proclaimed genius would pick a spot that would start up on top of a jillion white oaks and slide down in a washed out gully smack dab in the middle of a kudzu crop. I don’t know this for sure.
Beloved, I do know a lot takes place for a good garden spot and none of it is easy. But my brilliant Southern Brothers and Sisters know and fully understand. Beautiful, rich growing gardens are “pert nigh” a thing of the past ... GLORY!
Otis Griffin is the author of the book “Southern Raisin.” He was born in Charleston, Tenn., and attended Rosemark Grammar School and Bolton High School.