Green Thumb Envy, Part 2


With the turmoil of Hurricane Isaac behind us and the “Ghost of Isaac” threatening to re-enter the Gulf, let’s ignore all that and once again reap the benefits of a local French-Cajun gentleman’s green thumb.  Since we can’t actually stroll through his yard and garden today, let me bring the memory of his spring garden to you.

These eggplant blossoms are just so beautiful to me.

I wonder why they call this an eggplant?  It looks and tastes nothing like an egg.  Hmmmm.

I’ve seen a few gardens in my time, but I have never seen anyone grow onions this pretty.  And they are the size of the “medium” onions at the grocery story.  Just amazing!

This old sugar-boiling kettle is a piece of local history.  It actually came from a farm not far from Camp Dularge where a farmer used it to boil sugarcane juice into cane syrup for this community.  This resourceful gardener has turned it into a little goldfish pond–a beautiful garden feature, long before everyone had to have a pond in their yard.  In the background, the white and black containers are sections cut from long lengths of industrial plastic conduit that were scavenged from a trash pile.  Industrious, yes?

Aren’t these green tomatoes beautiful?  They were about four inches across, and once ripe, as delicious as they are beautiful.

These are called “burpless” cucumbers; and I have to wonder if they are not the same as the fancy English cucumbers sold at the grocery store?  Does anyone know?

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I hope you enjoyed our little walk together.  I know I did.

While these photos aptly represent this garden, what they really represent are the fruits of this man’s labor–of his complete devotion to his craft of working the soil, organically enhancing it, choosing the right cultivar of each plant for this south Louisiana climate; the dedication to weed, till, prune, and hand pick the bugs and worms from the leaves of each plant.  He does so with great vigor and love for what he does, and in the end, as a show of love for his family who benefits from this garden.  I’ve been there when he has brought baskets of vegetables to the back door for his wife, saying, “Look what I’ve brought you, Mary!”, in his sing-song French.  And every time, she is as excited to receive as he is to give, even though his work is over and hers is just beginning–the work of cleaning, paring, blanching, and either canning or freezing the excess for meals through the fall and winter.

These are the rhythms of one amazing couple–the rhythms of the bayou, like the ebb and flow of the tides, consistent, to be counted on.  What else in life can we say those things about in this, the twenty-first century?

I leave you to ponder that question and to consider an upcoming post wherein I will be asking you to search your memory banks and answer a question for me.  And of course, there will be a reward at the end of it, well, for at least for one lucky reader!

Until then,

BW

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Comments

Green Thumb Envy, Part 2 — 29 Comments

  1. “the rhythms of the bayou, like the ebb and flow of the tides, consistent, to be counted on. What else in life can we say those thing about in this, the twenty-first century”

    True, beautiful, SO important – what we must work WITH and PRESERVE ! ! !

  2. Thanks for posting those photos. They helped in deciding what I’d cook for supper tonight. Squash Casserole!
    I too plant “Burpless” cucumbers. I’m not sure about the grocery store varieties. I love cucumbers, but even the burpless variety don’t like me. I always have antacid for dessert.

  3. Wendy, if I may paraphrase: You are a lady and a scholar! I couldn’t agree more, and, like Don, I find your writing lovely and evocative. This gentleman’s garden reminds me, just a tad, of Bobby’s efforts, though he’s a lot messier and quite a bit less scientific. I look forward to future posts…

    • Helen,
      Thanks so much for your affirmations! It makes me feel really good. Oh Bobby! He would love the “re-use and recycle” ingenuity of the industrial pipes, wouldn’t he? Well, if you just can’t wait for the next post, there are five years worth here! Including the story of how I came to be here . . . if you are the least bit inclined. I think there are nine chapters so far! Starting here

  4. I am in awe os such a wonderful garden. I remember when I was about 11 my parents bought a house in Amarillo Texas and there was a magnificent garden in the back yard. I would go through it picking and gathering what was left of the veggies growing there. My parents were not gardeners so of course it was gone after that one harvest, But the memories it brings… Thanks for the stroll down memory lane even if it was brief… And oh how I would so love one of those sugar kettles… I have a love of goldfish and yard ponds… and that was such a beautiful site.. Thanks Wendy for sharing!!!

    • Michelle, thanks so much for your kind words. And I have a little secret to tell you – I have wanted a little pond out of a sugar kettle for many years and recently learned that you can purchase replicas made of fiberglass at garden centers and hardware stores across south Louisiana. However, they are cost prohibitive to me, making it quite a luxury. About $300 for a small one. So, if you really want one, VOILA! You could have one!

  5. I’m under the impression that the burp-less and the Chinese (the long ones) cucumbers sold in the store are basically the same. Both are “seedless” hence “burp-less”. The seeds make you burp.

    The pictures bring me smack-dab to the middle of Grandpa’s farm. Thanks for the reminder of glorious days past. For many years, when I had time, I had gardens almost as pretty and productive as his. I’m determined to get another, smaller garden growing this fall. Wish me luck!

  6. My grandparents raised thirteen healthy children on food they grew. Some of my most magical childhood memories come from my grandma’s bean patch, where I sat on a bucket in the shade of the arching bean vines, picking butter beans and snap beans and listening to my granny’s soothing voice telling tales of black panthers and bears from her youth. She was pure grace. Your pictures and words are beautiful.

    • Don’t you wish you could go back to that place, time, feeling? Sometimes, I do. Maybe it’s the sign of a midlife crisis, or just a longing for a time when things seemed more real, meaningful, and well, just plain old down to earth. Thanks for the compliments, Brenda–means a lot coming from someone of your writing caliber!!!

  7. How I wish I could have a garden! Even container gardening won’t do, as I don’t have enough sunlight. I thought I might, but a couple of go- arounds with buckets of tomatoes proved me wrong.

    That’s alright – there are plenty of people trying to make a profit selling their produce at farmers’ markets and such, and I’m more than happy to support them.

    I know this – the rhythms you speak of are so important in helping us stay human in the midst of this world’s craziness. Matter of fact, I wish I could send every delegate to both political conventions out to pick peas and weed a few rows of okra. It might settle them down a bit. 😉

    I did learn something. The reason eggplant is called eggplant is because the name was first applied to the white varieties. I didn’t even know there are white eggplant, but look at this!

      • I have a neighbor who plants only Green Eggplant. They seem to think they are milder than the purple. I can’t tell the difference myself. I’d like to try some of the white variety. I’d heard of them but have never seen any. Theysure do look like eggs!

  8. Beautiful photos of a fantastic labor of love. The burpless cucumbers are what my mom grows. They are also called yard long cucumbers and virtually seedless. The fancy ones at the stores here are a bit different and their skins are bitter to me. I planted 5 this spring and got 2 cucumbers. I watered, hoed and fertilized but, the heat got them. The tomatoes made my mouth water. I love fried green tomatoes! I am still getting a few cherry tomatoes from the plant the tomato worm missed. He was HUGE! So big, I had to break the stem he had attached himself to in order to remove him. The birds had a feast!
    I love eggplants also and still use the old Wyatts Cafeterial Creole Eggplant Casserole recipe. Love it!

    Must be something about Cajuns who garden. There was a gentleman from southern LA who lives several blocks from here. Every spring and fall, he had a beautiful garden and I saw him as I ferried the kids to and from school each day. I finally stopped and told him how much I loved looking at the fruits of his labor. He was so friendly and invited me back to chat any time. Over the next couple of years, I would stop to say hello as I went thru and time allowed. He lived over the garage at his daughters home and always wore a captains hat and smoked a pipe. I have noticed that last couple of years that the garden isn’t the same anymore and neither is his daughters flower beds. I haven’t seen him anymore either. I really miss our chats too.

    • Oh, your story does my heart good and makes me a little sad all at the same time. I know it’s the circle of life–all things pass away, but it also reminds me of my sweet father-in-law who had a garden until he passed on to the big Garden in the Sky where there are no weeds, or horn worms, or stink bugs to destroy the fruitfulness. Thanks for sharing, Cammy.

  9. A truly sad thing happened to the south of me when they ripped up a flower garden a very old guy tended to build a church operated imported junk shop….

    Since the rain my black prince tomatoes are crap an peppers had issues with hail… but fishing is picking up….

  10. Well it is Mennonite and or Apostolic so that comes with, doncha know.

    Supposedly you are helping 3rd worlders directly but I got doubts. Been 10 years since I stopped by.

  11. Oh the flower garden guy had like acre plus he delivered to nursing homes hospice care funerals etc etc etc. I thought he was like an icon or something. Right on highway too.

  12. While grilling I got nothing to do. So get Mark’s eggplant lasagna recipe up. I made eggplant pizza early in summer and will do soon now that the aubergines is in. Grew all kind of eggplants like the
    like the long japanese variety best. Ok done now.

  13. What a marvelous garden! Those tomatoes, thehe cukes, the peppers, the eggplants. I see Shore answered your question. It’s the white variety that looks a bit like goose eggs.

    Darn. Now, I’m hungry.

    I spent quite a bit of time helping Granny in her kitchen garden when I was visiting in the summers. Having grandparents that owned a farm and a father that sold/repaired tractors and farm equipment and who was always bringing home fresh produce pretty much spoiled me. Store bought veggies just don’t cut it.

    Thank heavens for the recent upsurge in farmers markets!.

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