Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hard to keep up with the family legacy

So, my surname is "Bauer", which means "Farmer" in German.  Good, we got that out of the way. So, I think I may have mentioned this before, but I found a census card, filled out, from 1854, in Corondelet, Missouri, from my ancestors.  They had $1,600 worth of farm land.  Now the area where this would be now, is where Corondelet is now, with factories and houses and stores.  That area, is where my family had a farm.  I'm sure also that land was cheaper then and that amount in that time could get a good amount of items and things.  What is important though, is that they held that farm as it was until they needed to sell it.  When they did, it was the grandson of the farm owner, who was my grandfather. 

So, my grandfather didn't grow up on a farm, but at least saw one, when he visited his grandparents.  When my grandfather came back from World War 2, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and got a degree of chemistry and worked at Monsanto.  (But back then, they didn't try to poison the world.)  He still worked on seeds and fertilizers and such. So, he took his work home.  He and my grandmother started a farm, in their backyard.  Their house, a large, two family flat on Virginia Avenue, had a big backyard for the house's size, maybe a quarter of an acre, and they converted half of that, into a successful garden.

A few years after we had moved into our new house, on Terri Lynn Drive, my father had started to plow a small stretch of ground in our backyard, for a garden as well.  This area was probably no more than 50 square feet of space, but he was able grow huge tomato plants, carrots, broccoli, and beets.  I remembered that every spring, we would plant and by mid summer we would be harvesting.  We would grow just items that we used and always had plenty. 

So, my wife and I get our new house, after being married and living in an apartment for a year.  After getting things squared away, we buy some large rose bushes and plant them in the backyard, which almost looks to be about 1,400 square feet of dried up, uneven landfill.  So, the roses do awesome, but the next year we move them into the front yard for a flower garden to help the front of the house look nice.  The area where they were, in the back yard, seemed like a good spot for a garden and after I had purchased and assembled some raised garden beds, I placed those in the back as well.  I filled them with the best garden soil that my Home Depot credit card could buy and placed tomatoes, corn and even some carrots and onions out there.  What I didn't plan on, was the hot and dry climate near my subdivision.  In a subdivision, so young, with no large trees in anyone's yard, there is full sun on these garden spots.  Combine that with a serious drainage issue, means that the tomato plants were getting dried out as the fruit was being eaten by insects, the corn was getting moldy as the plant's roots dried out and the carrots never grew past little sprouts in the ground.

I want a garden so bad, having a garden would be awesome and so much fun.  We had a cherry tomato plant, in our front yard, in our flower garden and we harvested so many tomatoes that we were giving bag fulls to friends and family.  However, we got called out by a troublesome neighbor, and in our HOA contract, we are not allowed to grow food in the front yard.  So, I miss having a garden produce something in such large amounts that it can sustain us, or help us out.

Then we come to this:

This is a garden spot, raised up by my brother-in-law, on land owned by my in-laws.  It was a garden last year, I think, growing salad vegetables.  So, this year, on one hot day, I came down with my kids and let them play as I started to get to work.  This area, probably a 10 foot by 10 foot square, took my about an hour to dig and till and clean up.  It now holds a lot of weeds, but also about 10 surviving tomato plants.  I ordered some plants from Burpee and was hooked on the notion of getting an 8 pound tomato.  Whether that happens or not, is up in the air.  But, whether this works or not, it will at least get the ground ready for a next year batch and so forth and maybe, I might have a garden that can produce food that I can be proud of.  Now considering that the land that my in-laws own, was at one point fertile farmland, and farmers to this day continue to farm their land around this parcel, indicates that the land can support a good sized garden.  In a few years we will build a house on this land and hope to have a bigger garden.

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