I have always been interested in growing things. My first true tomato garden was in 1996, in two large pots on the balcony of my apartment in downtown Ada.
One of the first things I wanted to do when I got married and moved to the country was plant a garden. Most years I have one, and it is always fun and relaxing to work in the garden and, ultimately, harvest from it.
But where did I get this primal inclination to work the soil? Neither of my parents particularly liked to garden. Dad made a few stabs at it over the years, but his efforts at gardening consisted mostly of worrying about the water bill.
Where, then, Richard? Two of my grandparents, Aileen Barron and Richard Batten, were avid gardeners.
For as long as I knew her, Grandma Barron cultivated a giant vegetable and fruit garden in the back yard of her home in Independence, Missouri. She grew strawberries (which she pronounced “strawbrees”), green beans, potatoes, apples, raspberries, and, most notably, rhubarb.
Richard Batten and his wife, my grandmother Lydia, proudly grew flowers, in a very British tradition of gardening, at their homes in Flat River, Missouri. Year after year Richard made beautiful Kodachrome color slides of his gardening successes. I have those slides today.
These influences have combined nicely with my current life in the country with my wife Abby. Not only do I have the space for a garden and an orchard, the product I get from them both is a great part of my healthy, long-time vegetarian diet.