My mother, Joyce, remembers learning about gardening from her parents. They lived in what could probably be called a suburb. East Wilton was an offshoot of Wilton. Their garden plot sat across busy Route 2 from the house.
When my mother was small, she could only go across to the garden with her parents or older siblings. One day she asked if she could just wait on the sidewalk. Then she crossed the road by herself anyway. When her mother asked her why she had disobeyed, Joyce glibly replied, “The devil made me do it.”
One of mom’s earliest jobs in the garden was pest control. She would wander through the tomatoes picking off the soft and squishy worms. Mom said, “I threw them into an old 4-quart motor-oil can to be burnt by my father or brother.”
They grew lots of tomatoes and also cucumbers, peas, green beans, corn and parsnips. When she was a bit older, her brother Ron joined the Future Farmers and borrowed a tractor to plow a large area for potatoes.
One of the most helpful gardening tips she learned was soon after she married. They were short on cash and could not afford the expense of wire fence for their peas. An older gentleman told them to plant their peas in a double row and they would help support each other.
Mom and Dad plowed up a plot across the lawn on a knoll in their first few years of gardening together. It was a beautiful site in what had been cow pasture. They planted
Katahdin, Kennebec, Green Mountains and Cobbler potatoes. The first crop had extra large tubers free of wire worms and scab. After a few years the field played out: the potatoes were getting smaller and less abundant. Dad said, “We used to use ‘Crow Tar’ until that was banned. Then we started having problems with scab and wire worms.” Mom added, “A friend that we met through Presque Isle Fair gave us something to help after that.”
Gardening has been an enjoyable activity to do with family and now the garden is shared with their grown daughter and her family. Joyce helps cut up the potatoes for planting and says, “I just enjoy walking to the garden and viewing how the crops are doing.”