Block 17 of the Grandma’s Kitchen Block of the Week by Pat Sloan is named Pantry Goods. My story that goes with the block is all about the garden and all the bounty that we enjoyed from it. My aunt had a huge garden that supplied food for her family (that included me) and my grandparents. The work started in the spring with plowing and planting and continued through the fall with the gathering and canning.
Everyone worked the garden. I remember spreading fertilize when I was very small. I used a little tin bucket that I filled from the bag of fertilize. I walked down the rows behind the plow that was pulled by a team of mules and threw handfuls into the prepared rows. One of my cousins followed behind me with seeds or plants, depending on what was being planted. Another cousin followed him with a hoe and covered the seeds. After all the planting came the hoeing….every day. This kept the weeds away from the plants and the dirt from hardening around the plants.
When the vegetables were ready to be harvested then came the canning. Going into the cellar (our ‘pantry’) under the house to bring out the empty jars was not one of my favorite jobs. I was always afraid one of the boys would close the door on me. I still do not like going into tight, dark spaces. The jars were washed in hot, soapy water and since my hands were small enough to fit in the jars, I was assigned this task.
I usually sat on the porch and readied the green beans to start the canning process. My cousins would pick the beans and bring them to me so I could pull off the strings and break them into pieces. Each time I would get to the bottom of my basket the boys would bring me more. One time I broke beans for about six hours before we stopped to start making supper. I made the comment to my aunt that I was so tired and glad to stop for supper. In her old country way she looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you are so tired, you have been sitting on the porch all day.” Those are still some of my fondest memories.
Each Sunday at church the ladies would brag about how many jars they canned that week. Not only did we eat fresh vegetables all summer, but all winter we had the wonderful canned vegetables. This was ‘fast food’ in the olden days. 🙂