A Redneck Garden in August

A Redneck Garden in August

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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."

“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"

“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"

“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."

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?"

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.  Our collaboration turned into a story that really gives you the true meaning of “redneck.”  You may read an excerpt titled “What is a Redneck” by CLICKING 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.

***************

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard?Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Try “see inside the book”

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Louann wins the lottery

In this weeks article I will share a nice story.  Relax for a few minutes and read about the indomitable Louann.  This is one of my favorite chapters from the book Requiem for a Redneck. Enjoy-share it with your friends.

Chapter ten, Requiem for a Redneck

Chapter ten, Requiem for a Redneck

Louann was a victim of numbers. With five more years of public schooling, thirty more points of I.Q., and eight more teeth, she could have been a movie star. She was all right to look at when she kept her mouth shut – which was rarely. She could also look halfway intelligent under the same circumstances. Louann could talk more and say less than any woman I had ever met. Her vocabulary was limited but she made up for it by using the word “like” and the phrase “don’t youknow” quite often. A sample sentence might be:

“I like caught this don’t you know fish and like I pulled it in out of the don’t you knowwater and like it was slippery. You know what I mean?”

When I met her she was in her late twenties. She was about five feet six inches tall with long straight mousy brown hair which she always said used to be “you know, like it was blonde, don’t you know.” Louann wore cutoffs and a t-shirt in the summer and jeans and a sweatshirt in the winter. She was barefoot unless it was really cold. When it was really cold she wore work boots.

Louann was rather uncommunicative around men, so I only knew her from observation. After she got to know Marsha, though, she told Marsha everything in the world about her life, her activities, her ways of getting money, and her alcohol consumption. Marsha, of course, told me everything. It was much more than I wanted to know.

My observations were that Louann was very gentle and understanding when dealing with animals and plants. She could communicate with the animals on their level, and I once watched her squatting and staring at a tomato plant for hours. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, “I’m like watching it grow, don’t you know.”

The dogs might have barked the first time she came to the house to go fishing, but after that, they started wagging their tails when Harce’s truck pulled into the driveway. If Louann wasn’t with Harce, they would bark at him, otherwise they would come sit in front of Louann and let her pet them and talk to them.

Louann helped grow Harce’s animals. There were always chickens, hogs, and a cow or two around “the property.” Harce and Louann never had to buy meat or vegetables. She saw to that. But she told Marsha that even though she loved watching the animals grow, she never named them because “You can, like, eat a piece of you know steak but only if you don’t know any names, don’t you know. It’s like,you can’t eat Herman, but eating a don’t you know stranger is all right. See? That’s like why I don’t never name none of them, don’t you know. See, it’s all right to name a tomato plant don’t you know because you are only eating their babies, don’t you know and you don’t name their babies. You know? I name all my tomato plants, but like, I don’t never name a chicken. Not around here. You know?”

Louann was never idle. The deal on the firewood was that Harce cut and split the firewood. Louann used a hatchet to split wood scraps into kindling. Splitting kindling is a dangerous art form. Louann could patiently cut strips of wood to an amazing degree of exactness without ever cutting herself with the hatchet. She separated the kindling into two piles: hardwood and heart pine. She tied the kindling into separate bundles that were about eight inches in diameter and ten inches long. The heart pine kindling was in big demand at the Magic Market.

While Harce was away looking for any possible way to make money other than get a job, Louann kept things together at home. She grew and canned vegetables. She fed and cared for the livestock with no names. She split kindling and picked up beer cans for recycling. One of Harce’s friends had built her a beer can crusher which consisted of two tires with an electric motor and a chute that fed the cans between the tires and spit them out into a barrel. There was never a shortage of beer cans around the sawmill. When Harce built the brick barbecue pit, she had him set a couple of mailboxes into the chimney. This way, when the chimney got hot, she could bake bread in the mailbox. It was the best bread anyone ever ate.

She gathered eggs. She used a homemade broom to sweep the front yard, just like her mother and grandmother had done. Louann stayed busy.

Louann was a closet alcoholic. She loved to get drunk, but she had certain restrictions. You see, as much as Harce drank, he didn’t like her when she was drunk. He threw violent fits when she got drunk. I guess I could understand. I only saw her really drunk twice and I really didn’t want to be anywhere near her at those times. She was a wild, incomprehensible, screaming banshee when she was drunk. Obviously she knew this also and she did a really good job of getting just the right buzz and maintaining it throughout the day. She had to be very devious, though, in getting alcohol. Harce would bring her a six pack of Keystone beer every three or four days and he thought that was all she drank. She wasn’t above drinking up the vanilla extract, but she didn’t really like the taste.

So Louann learned to scrounge money. She couldn’t drive because she got in trouble every time she tried to drive somewhere and Harce never left an operational vehicle on the premises when he was not there. If he drove off in one truck, he had the coil wire from the other truck in his pocket. But Louann could scrounge beer money better than anyone around The Colons. She sold kindling to the Magic Market, she sold eggs to the neighbors, she cheated on the recycled beer cans, she made kudzu vine wreaths at Christmas time. She was full of financial schemes – all centered on buying beer.

Since she couldn’t drive, she had to share her largesse with her friend from down the road, Mary Sue, who had the use of a 1979 Chevrolet Impala that ran most of the time. For two dollars worth of gas, one can of beer, and three fresh chicken eggs, Mary Sue would drive Louann to the Magic Market whenever she wanted to go. Louann had to be careful to keep any indication that she had any money from Harce or he would take it. He knew why she wanted money. If he didn’t think she had any, he would just think that she was only drinking the beer that he brought her. That’s what she wanted him to think. That’s kind of how she won the lottery.

Louann told Marsha about winning the lottery but swore her to secrecy. Marsha, of course, told me and swore me to secrecy. If Harce had ever known, his wrath would have been legendary. I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him. The story went like this. I think it was Harley Johnson, I’m not sure, but it really doesn’t matter, who came to see Louann to buy a piece of cured ham. She wanted five dollars for the ham but Harley only had four dollars and an unscratched lottery ticket. Louann didn’t really want the lottery ticket, but Harley was nice and had a nice smile and he also threw in a can of Budweiser so she took the deal. She put the ticket in with her financial stash and forgot about it.

A couple of days later, Louann counted and found that she had saved up ten dollars. Harce was gone to cut trees so she got some eggs and walked down the road to fetch Mary Sue. They cranked the old Chevy and headed down to the Magic Market. Neither of them had drunk a beer in two days and it wasn’t that they really wanted a twelve pack, they really needed a twelve pack. Louann had stuffed her money in her pocket without looking at it and when she reached in to hand Mary Sue the gas money, the lottery ticket fell out on the floor of the car.

Mary Sue looked at it. “Where did you get the lottery ticket?”

Louann told her about Harley Johnson pawning it off on her.

Mary Sue was incredulous. “And you ain’t scratched it yet? I ain’t

never known nobody that didn’t scratch them even before they got

out of the store.” So they both huddled over the Lucky Seven card

while Louann took a dime out of her pocket and scratched.

She scratched the covering off of the first block. “What is it?”

asked Mary Sue.

“It’s a by damn seven,” Louann replied. “All we need is two more

sevens. Fat chance, don’t you know.” She scratched another one.

Mary Sue yelled a modified rebel yell. “Look, it’s another seven.

Scratch the next one.”

Louann hesitated. The tension built. She slowly scratched the

third block. There was silence.

“It’s another seven, that’s three of them,” Mary Sue whispered.

“Scratch that box down there. That’s the one that tells you what

you won.”

Louann scratched it.

There was dead silence.

“My God,” whispered Louann

“Oh, oh my God,” whispered Mary Sue.

“It’s five thousand dollars,” whispered Louann. “That will buy

beer for the rest of my life.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We can’t let Harce know, he’ll take it.”

“We can’t take it into the Magic Market. Harry will tell

everybody.”

“Let’s buy some gas and go to town to the Indian store. He cain’t

tell nobody we know ‘cause they won’t go in there.”

Louann tried for a straight face and went into the Magic Market

to pay for the gas. Harry asked her about her beer, but she told him

she “wouldn’t be needing any today.” She ran out the door.

The Chevy was still running because Louann and Mary Sue had learned not to cut it off when it was away from home. They headed into town to the Indian store, which was the largest lottery purveyor around. They ran in and set the ticket on the counter. The clerk took the ticket and studied it carefully.

“You mus’ go to Dalton for a prize this size,” he observed. “Dey

only let us pay out up to one t’ousand dollars here. You mus go to

Dalton for dis one. Sorry.”

Outside, Louann and Mary Sue huddled together. “Damn, we got

to go to Dalton,” Louann said.

“It’s OK,” said Mary Sue. “I think the Chevy will make it. It’s only

70 miles. But we’ll need about fifteen dollars for gas. See what you can

get and I’ll rob my change jar and we can go tomorrow.”

Louann got up extra early the next morning and fixed a big breakfast for Harce. She wanted to get him out of there. The minute he was out of the driveway, she took off her bathrobe which covered her jeans and sweat shirt. She ran to Mary Sue’s house. The Chevy was already running. They stopped at the Magic Market and bought fourteen dollars and eighty six cents worth of gas and they were off.

They only had to stop and ask directions six times, but they finally found their way to the lottery redemption office. Mary Sue gave her rebel yell and Louann’s long hair flew in the wind as they ran into the office. Louann ran up to the counter and slapped the ticket down in front of a nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady who was obviously used to excitement. The lady studied the card. She entered the serial number into the computer and got a studious look on her face.

“It looks fine, ladies.” She beamed. “If you’ll just let me see your

driver’s license, I’ll do the paperwork and give you your money.”

Louann looked at Mary Sue.

Mary Sue looked at Louann.

They both looked at the lady behind the counter.

“We ain’t got no drivers license,” Louann said.

The lottery lady gave them a sweet smile. She had seen this before.

“I’m sorry. Without a driver’s license, we can’t honor the amount on

the card. Perhaps you have a friend . . .”

Louann and Mary Sue almost cried. They went out and sat in

the car.

Louann thought for a while and asked, “What are we like going

to do?”

“I don’t know.” Mary Sue replied, “That lady said maybe if we had

a friend . . .”

Louann brightened, “Like, what about Leroy? Has he got

any license?”

“I know he does. He just got out of DUI school and got

them back.”

“Reckon he’d do it and keep his mouth shut?”

“Reckon he would for a hunnerd dollars.”

“That’d be worth it. Let’s go get Leroy. He lives in Sugar Hill. That

ain’t but twenty miles.”

“I hope he’s home.”

“I bet he’s home, he’s laid off and he’s getting unemployment.

He’s probably out of beer. He’s home.”

Forty-five minutes later, they pulled up to the front of Leroy’s trailer. It was easy to find. It was the first trailer in the second row of the trailer park on Highway 27 in Sugar Hill. Leroy was sitting on the porch.

Louann hollered, “Hey, Leroy.”

Leroy grinned and waved. “Hey Louann. Hey, Mary Sue. What

y’all doing here?”

“We thought you might want some beer.”

“You got that right.”

“You got any drivers license?”

Leroy took a drag from his Marlboro Light. “Yeah, I got them

back the other day.”

“Well get them license and get in the car and we’ll go get

some money and we’ll get you some beer and we’ll give you a

hunnert dollars.”

Leroy really didn’t understand, but he had a chance to ride around with a couple of good-looking women and he really didn’t have much else to do but sit on the porch, so he got in the back seat of the Impala. They explained the situation on the way. They were careful not to tell Leroy exactly how much money was involved until they had made a deal and shook on it. Leroy said he would be happy with a hundred dollars and some beer. He didn’t have nothing else to do.

Back in Dalton, the ladies grinned big as they walked in with Leroy and saw the same nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady behind the counter. She looked at the ticket again. She punched the numbers in the computer again. She entered Leroy’s driver’s license number in the computer. She got a large smile on her face and said,

“If you will wait a moment, Leroy, I will have a check for you. The Georgia Lottery

appreciates your support.”

She turned to a printer which was already processing the check.

The grey-haired lady tore off the check and brought it to the

counter.

“Here you are, Leroy. One hundred and twenty six dollars

and forty two cents. And congratulations Leroy, your child support

payments have now been caught up completely.”

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Copyright 2009 John P. Schulz

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