Variety spices up our tiny garden


October 4, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Several years ago during one of our trips to Roswell, N.M., to visit daughter Brenda and family, I stopped north of Hereford, Texas, where a field of cotton recently had been harvested.
A handful of the white, fluffy produce contained several seeds, which I squirreled away.
This spring wife Beverly decided having fresh green beans and new potatoes was reason enough to rent one of the Elm Creek Garden spaces. Her success resonated and I joined in — assistance appreciated but probably not too helpful.
We dug about 10 gallons of potatoes and enough green beans to put several quarts in the freezer. Our tomatoes still are coming on.
Along about July 1 I remembered the cotton seeds, found them in a ditty bag I carry for toiletries, and pulled cotton residue from two. Planted about eight inches apart, they quickly sprouted.
It takes about 120 days for a cotton plant to set on bolls and mature, which puts my harvest time a couple of weeks from now. One plant has a dozen or more bolls a bit larger than golf balls. The second, a bit of a runt, is blooming, and may run out of favorable weather.
Mainly, I thought it would be fun to share up close with grandkids what once was the king of Southern crops.

BEVERLY AND I come from gardening backgrounds.
Our parents raised large gardens each year with a Depression Era mindset of preserving enough produce to last until the next spring.
We had goodness knows how many potatoes laid out on old window screens powdered with lime to aid preservation each fall. Our larder was filled with quarts of green beans, pickled beets and cucumbers (sweet as well as sharp) and even corn, cut from the cob and twice as tasty when opened as any coming off a commercial shelf today.
Our parents also liked to take a step beyond the norm.
Lacy Mintz, Beverly’s dad, raised peanuts — called them goobers — that he roasted in their kitchen oven.
My father, Ed, also dabbled with peanuts and some crazy vegetables, such as spaghetti squash.
While the urge to garden didn’t hit me until mid-stream this year, I plan to be on board from the start in 2015.

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