A Redneck Garden in August
I had to go see my mother over the weekend of July 4 and I’m going to cheat and re-post this article from a couple of years ago. Enjoy.
Bud is proud to be a redneck. He grew up on a farm on Sand Mountain, Alabama and moved to town for work a number of years ago. One day I showed Bud some of my blog posts and he said, “Why don’t you show them folks a redneck garden?” I agreed with him that this would be a good idea, so here it is
- Bud checks out the rabbits across the road.
I showed up to find Bud weed eating his front bank on a 95 degree afternoon. He had seen something in the woods across the street. He turned off his weed eater and looked up to see me and said, “They’s a bunch of rabbits over there. I’m going to have me some good Brunswick stew this winter. You wait and see.”
We talked a few minutes about how he should prune his ten foot tall and wide knockout rose, and then, he said, “bring that there camera down back and I’ll show you my real garden.” We walked around the house and I saw the vegetable garden at the bottom of the hill. It is about a 30 by 30 foot area prepared by using cross ties and filled with a good compost I had gotten him a couple of years ago.
- I looked down the hill at the raised vegetable garden.
The crossties hold everything together, and the compost is well mulched with wood chips that were provided free by a local tree surgeon. The tree surgeon was happy to have a place to dump the chips and Bud was glad to get them. “The chips really hold in the moisture” he said, “and that there dirt keeps on getting better and better every year. I add a little manure every time I take a notion to, but I make sure it is well rotted.”
- Crossties hold in the compost. Note the mulch of wood chips.
On the east side of the garden is a seven foot high trellis of beans. They sort of form a back “wall” for the project. Bud said they are “Blue Lake Runners” and that they produce until they freeze and that, “it takes a really good freeze to kill them.” I asked where all the beans were and he said, “Helen picks everything every day and puts them up. The more you pick, the more you get. Look at them vines, they’re still blooming. That means more and more beans.”
- Beans. Blue Lake Runners produce until they freeze if you keep them picked.
The tomato plants have a good bit of dried up leaves low and inside, but the tops are a lush green with lots of flowers. Bud had already picked me a bagfull of tomatoes and peppers because “I knowed you was coming.”
- Tomatoes will keep producing all summer if you keep the tomatoes picked.
The peppers were loaded with fruits ranging from dark green to dark red. I took a big bite of a beautiful jalapeno and smiled as the top of my head broke out in sweat, allowing the warm breeze to cool me off. I was told that there were four kinds of Cayenne peppers
- Cayenne peppers almost ready for harvest
I noticed a lot of lush and beautiful sweet banana peppers. Bud said, “If you plant the hot and the mild peppers together, the sweet bananas get a little heat to them. That makes them better when we make our year’s supply of ‘chow chow’ next month. I just naturally got to have chow chow with my black eyed peas and hog jowl.”
- Sweet banana peppers are an essential for chow chow.
I saw some young okra plants and was told that they would probably produce a crop of late okra if the heat held up.
- Young okra plants in August.
Bud had given me a carton of “aigs” not long ago that looked like Easter eggs. They were all kinds of different colors and almost too pretty to eat. When I cooked them and ate them, they didn’t taste the same as the ones from the grocery store. Bud has fresh eggs all the time. The chickens were hiding in the shade.
- The chickens were hiding in the shade
I got to thinking and I asked, “What do you do with all of the produce? We’re talking a lot of food here.” He grinned and took me to one of his sheds. I walked inside and looked around. I was impressed to say the least.
- I couldn’t believe the racks of preserved vegetables and fruits.
Bud pointed to a stack of boxes. “Every morning, Helen comes in here and gets a couple of empty boxes. Every evening, when I come home from work, I carry the full boxes out here from the house and try to find a place to put the jars.” He pointed to one jar which radiated bright yellow, “look at that pickled yaller squash. I love that stuff. We got enough food here to last the winter without going to the store much. We give a lot of it away, too.”
- “We ain’t gonna go hungry. We give away what we can’t eat.”
Bud grinned and said, “remember the other day when I told you about all them catfish me and the grandyounguns caught up in the pocket? Lookie here.” He opened the freezer and showed me bag after bag of filleted catfish. “We’re gonna have us one more fish fry one day pretty soon.” The freezer was packed with meats and vegetables from the current season.
- “I’m gonna have me a big fish fry one day. Nothing is better than these here catfish fillets all fried up”
If you follow this blog you will know that I always go looking for garden art. Bud’s yard contained an interesting collection. I asked about the little boy with no hands and Bud said, “Wa’al, them rich folks always have old stuff that’s kindly broken. I figured I could have some, too. I might get around to gluing them hands on one day, I reckon…well, maybe.”
- “I’m gonna glue them hands back on one day….maybe”
The front porch is graced by a pair of almost welcoming cement dogs. I kind of liked the idea of a big old dog bringing momma a basket of flowers.
- A front porch sentry with a touch of class. “I brought you these flowers, ma’am.”
There have been a lot of conversations around a pitcher of sweet tea held on this shady front porch. Bud says, “come on by and set a spell.”
- A nice front porch. “Y’all come set a spell and have some sweet tea, Y’hear?”
In the winter month, Bud said he grows, “turnip greens, radishes, spinach, carrots, beets, collards, English peas, and lots of other stuff. It is a year-round garden.”
A couple of years ago when I was writing my book, Bud and I had a lot of discussions on the topic of “just what is a redneck.” He helped me immensely with my research. One of the characters in the book that came from our conversations is Louann. Everyone who read the book loved Louann. To read about her, --CLICK HERE
I hope you enjoyed the garden tour. This garden shows that all you need is some scrounging ability, a little hard work, and a big grin to be successful with your garden.
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These articles are brought to you by John P. Schulz, author of the novel, Requiem for a Redneck . You can read more of the adventures of John the Plant man here: http://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Redneck-John-P-Schulz/dp/0981825206/Try “see inside the book”
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