'''By The Beanstalk'''
Father and Son Gardening
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A teaching for two
One summer at my great grandmother in-laws garden, the tomatoes grew so tall as though they were magical beanstalks climbing to the sky. That summer I carried my young son Steven on my back as we went helping grandmother pick theses lushes tomatoes, we went back and fourth picking and eating these cherry tomatoes ''one for you and one for me' I said popping another one in his mouth and one in mine to, savoring its sun-warmth and sweetness. One led to two and then three, and soon we stopped counting. As tomato juice streamed down our chins, we giggled wildly and gored on tomato candy until we couldn't eat any more.
Many tomato seasons later, my son told me that was his earliest childhood memory,and one of his fondest. At least I got one thing right, I thought. From the time he could toddle Steven loved to be in a garden grubbing around in dirt, playing with pill bugs and planting his own sunflower or bush of peas. Our little cultivated patch of yard taught both of us how to live and how to eat not that he could easily escape them. My work as a chef exposed him to farmer's markets at a very early age.
He understood that vegetables didn't spring from the supermarket, shrink-wrapped in plastic.
A real person had grown them and so could he.
Grandmother gave Steven his very own plot, and in the process learned the wisdom of starting small. The pride he felt after planting a row of summer squash gave away to sobs when cutworms
sheared it clean in the night. It was my fault; I'd forgotten all about protecting the seeding with tin foil collars. Grandmother said I had rushed things-he wasn't ready for a garden that that size. She suggested growing crops in pots, however, would be nearly pest proof and risk free. He warmed to the idea especially when he heard that it meant a trip to the nursery. You can choose the vegetables and the containers. I said, explaining that because soils dries so fast in Philadelphia he would have to look for pots of glaze clay and plastic, or wooden tubs and half wine barrels(with drainage holes). But first we had to decide how many we could handle and where they would go.
Except for lettuce, which welcomes partial shade, vegetables typically require at least six hours of full sun a day. We marked the yard's sunniest corners and narrowed the choices to five, easy to grow and versatile to prepare tomatoes- cherry size and larger with a basil plant alongside, green beans, summer squash, cucumbers and lettuce. Grandmothers suggestion was very ambitious one or two of the five would have been just fine. the shopping list also included bags of organic potting soil lots of it , a controlled release fertilizer to mix in at planting time, and liquid fish emulsion to be applied once a month. these vegetables wouldn't be cheap to grow but I Was determined to give them every advantage. Picking our plants and containers, wire tomato cages, a cucumber trellis and a bamboo tepee to train the beans thrilled Steven as much as planting weeding, and watching everything grow. Set backs were minor, when the lettuce showed heat stress, we moved the pot to a shadier place. I expected to harvest hungry hordes of beetles, but they passed us by for greener gardens.
A trio of ravenous tomato hornworms was tenderly transferred to glass-jar homes. where they munched on fresh picked tomato leaves every morning. The long journey from dirt to dinner table paid off when the green beans kept producing and the cut and come again lettuce yielded a second crop for the salad bowl. Despite vine-snitching and snacking, we still picked plenty of tomatoes for our favorite pasta sauce, Steven not only cared for and harvested the vegetables but also help cook them That was an important life lesson too. As a parent, we never know which of the ideas we throw out to our children they will catch and keep. I hoped that wherever
he lived my son would find a way to grow something to eat-and raised beds outside a student flat in college usa. It pleased me that he grew up to be a adventurous eater. What surprised me was how sophisiticated a cook he became, exploring Indian vegetarin dishes and in turn teaching his mother the techniques he mastered, now a carpenter and still likes using his hands he sends me some great tasting recipes he makes up him self, I know when he comes home we will spend a lot of time in the kitchen together and as soon as we can we will plant a garden too.
enclosed is one of Steven's recipes for you to try hope you enjoy it I really did.
Swiss Style Green Beans
1\4 cup margine 1tsp sugar
1\2 cup cornflakes 8 oz sour cream
2 tbs flour 4 cups green beans, drained
1\2 tsp salt 1\2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded swiss cheese 1 tsp dry minced onion flakes
Mix 2 tablespoons margarine melted) with cornflakes. Set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons margarine over low heat, add flour,salt,pepper, onion and sugar. Stir in sour cream. stir until thick and bubbly. add green beans spread in a 9x13-inch pan sprinkle with swiss cheese and top with cornflake toppings, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
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