"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed."
I am afraid the results of our last poll, which asked the question:
“Do you have a garden?”
shows the evidence of a quickly changing way of life in The South.
The results were:
“Yes” - 35%
“No” - 42%
“I have a few plants, but not at true garden” - 21%
When I was growing up, everyone had a garden. Those who lived in town either designated a portion of their backyards to vegetable gardening, or they had a garden spot at the home of one of their country-living relatives. For those of us who grew up in the country, there were usually multiple planting areas. There was the vegetable garden, which we ate from through-out the summer and was usually located fairly close to the house. Here we planted things like potatoes, green onions, lettuce, cabbage, English peas, tomatoes, squash, and okra.
Then, there was the “truck patch!” Oh, how I hated the truck patch!
Over the past few years, the kids and I have toyed with a bit of Latin and Greek. This has peeked an interest, especially with M.C., in etymology. A quick Google search turned up the following explanation for the origins of the term, "truck patch." It seems to be associated with the growing and selling of vegetables. I guess through the years, the term took on a slightly different meaning - at least in our area. Most folks I knew rarely grew truck patches to produce income. They were simply looking to feed their own families.
Working in the "garden" was generally far more desirable than laboring in the "truck patch." Our garden was close enough to our house, and my bedroom was just strategically located close enough, so that I could raise my bedroom window, and crank up my stereo to WHBQ. While I performed forced labor in the family vegetable garden, I at least had the luxury of listening to Elton John belt out "Rocket Man!" The truck patch was much more remote, and the rows so long, that your portable boom box, even when powered by the Energizer Bunny's best batteries, could only be heard a for a few feet from the end of the row.
Speaking of row length, vegetable gardens have rows of decent length. Most folks can carry on a fairly pleasant conversation from one end of the garden row with someone on the other end. Truck patch rows seem to stretch a mile long, at least in the eyes a teenage hoeing or picking vegetables from it!
Truck patches were where we all planted the staples of our Southern diet: peas (several varieties), butter beans (usually at least two varieties), green beans and corn. We also planted things like peanuts, watermelons and cantaloupe in the truck patch, as well. This gave the vines plenty of room to spread out!
I do remember us selling a truck load of peas from our truck patch one time during my childhood. It must have been a good year for peas, because we had a bumper crop - way more than we could eat or needed from freezing. All our friends and relations had more peas than they knew what to do with, too! Not being one to let anything go to waste, my momma decided we'd pick the excess peas and sell them. I remember Momma, my brother, Jeff, and I picking those purple hull peas by the basketful and dumping them into the bed of the old two-tone blue Ford pickup we’d bought second-hand from my cotton-farming uncles. It wasn’t pretty, but it met our needs - at least until my brother wrecked it a few years later! Praise the Lord he wasn’t hurt! He did learn not to fool with an 8-track tape player while driving down the highway, though!
But, back to the peas - we took them to a country vegetable market near our home, where the boys working there jumped into the truck's bed, true bushel baskets in hand, and began to unload them, while keeping a tally of how many bushel baskets of peas we had. If I remember correctly, that pickup load of peas bought our back-to-school tennis shoes that year!
I have not doubt that my brother and I complained during the whole picking and selling process, but I’m pretty sure the tennis shoes had more value to us since our labor helped pay for them. The event surely provides a nice memory today! Somehow, I don't think the tennis shoes we’ll try to purchase this Friday, during Mississippi’s first “tax-free week-end,” will provide any sort of memory for my kids at all! Alas, we live in an ever-changing South!
We've added a new poll!! There’s not many things we in the South are more strongly opinionated about than our “Cokes.” I overheard a “friendly argument” over the merits of Dr. Pepper just this past Sunday at church.
For those who might not know, we don’t call them sodas, pops, or carbonated beverage down here. In the South, these liquid refreshers are called “Cokes” - even if it's a Pepsi!
If you have a minute take our little poll in the left sidebar!