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Posts Tagged ‘Southern California Gardening’

FARMING

I grew up on a 7000 square foot city lot in inner-suburban Los Angeles. I grew up gardening. But I considered it, or imagined it, to be farming.

Watering the Garden © SR Euston

In Southern California before automatic drip systems, the homely hose was the workhorse of the garden. Since my family often traveled through the San Joaquin Valley on vacations, and my father liked the landscape, the “Valley” became my ideal for farmland, and irrigation was synonymous with farming.

I made deep furrows for watering the vegetables and placed the hose at the head of the little 25 foot rows, watching as the water coursed slowly down the trench, imagining water coursing down Valley irrigation canals.

I was a boy alone on a summer afternoon, irrigating the crops, the smell of smoke from dry burning grasses next door, water creeping down the furrows between the vegetable rows. Some people, for whatever reason, have a kind of rural imagination. I’m one of them. I thought of the great hot green irrigated fields around Fresno or Modesto.

But the hose had another more transcendental meaning. Nozzle in hand, I used the finest spray adjustment, turned it to the sun and the cooling tiny droplets trailed like a floating nebulous prism.

In Spring/early Summer it was time to plant. With my father, I placed the seeds very carefully in the string-straight rows, pressing each seed to the proper depth per instructions on the seed packet. I liked to think of the garden as producing crops – radishes, usually “icicles”, kentucky wonder snap beans, carrots, romaine lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini squash, which I hated to eat but loved to watch grow.

In furtherance of my agricultural career, at about age 11,  I got a Christmas present of a five-tined hand held cultivator, like a forked hoe. It was like getting a new tractor. And, I noticed, the quality was good.

I used that tool for over 40 years and finally replaced it in Virginia, when I had a real farm – and a real tractor.

Grandmother Teaches Gardening © SR Euston

San Joaquin Valley Farm: Olden Days © SR Euston

The Farm, Virgina,1998 © SR Euston

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