I have many childhood memories. Some of my strongest are associated with growing vegetables or otherwise enjoying the plants around me. You, too, can grow family bonds and influential memories by growing and enjoying plants together.
I remember following my Grandpa around the backyard with a salt shaker. We’d pick ripe tomatoes off the vines and eat them like apples but with a few sprinkles of salt.
I remember my Grandpa picking off dying squash flowers so I could stomp on them. Yeah, I’m not sure why now, but at the time it made sense. They would pop!
I remember having to mow the lawn when I was a kid. Several times I would have to do it twice, then my Dad would do it again. Why? I don’t know. I did a great job the first time. (Maybe this is why I hate lawns now?)
I remember picking apricots, figs, grapefruit, and loquats in my other Grandparents’ backyard. They were all delicious. Growing up in Southern California had its benefits.
I remember going to the Sierras with family every summer. The butterscotch and vanilla smells of the Jeffrey Pines (pinus jeffreyi) in the Mammoth Lakes area reminds me of camping trips, card games (they taught us young), early morning hiking, fishing, and laughing over inappropriate jokes Grandma would make.
I always tell people I don’t have a great sense of smell. It’s true. I don’t. But I can identify the remarkable smells of the jeffrey pine and big sage brush (Artemisia tridentata) immediately. I recently bought a young Artemisia tridentata from Bay Natives in San Francisco to plant in my backyard as part of my “weeds to wonderful” backyard makeover. It might be a rather wild or boring looking plant to many, but my experiences with it over the years makes it one of my favorites.
Currently, my friend and co-worker Maureen is growing cantaloupe with her junior high students. They’re on a trip, so I’m minding them for the time being (seeds, if you’re reading this, please sprout!!!). She’s continuing an age-old tradition teaching the young to enjoy and respect nature. It’s an amazing thing how plants affect our lives. Whether the cantaloupe seeds sprout or not, these kids will always remember this project just like I will always remember the memories I’m sharing with you here.
P.S. If you’re ever in the Mammoth Lakes area, go to Mammoth Brewing Company and try their IPA 395. Named after the central highway that runs through the Eastern Sierras, IPA 395 is made with mountain sage and juniper. What’s the best thing ever? Turning my childhood memories into beer. Try it if you can! It’s amazing whether you share my love of Eastern Sierra plants or not.
On the fourth day of each month, garden bloggers everywhere are coming together to post about what you can grow. Posts will be about anything from growing hops for your home brew to growing your own wedding bouquet. To see others, check out the You Can Grow That! Facebook Page.