Things Growing in My DNA

Young cherry tomatoes grow in my garden this weekend.
Young cherry tomatoes grow in my garden this weekend.
This is your humble host tending to his garden a couple of years ago.
This is your humble host tending to his garden a couple of years ago.

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.

My grandmother Aileen Barron serves Thanksgiving dinner in the early 1980s. Many of the dishes served for those holiday meals came from her garden.
My grandmother Aileen Barron serves Thanksgiving dinner in the early 1980s. Many of the dishes served for those holiday meals came from her garden.

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.

My grandmother, Lydia Batten, walks among summertime flowers in the Batten's garden in Flat River, Missouri, circa 1960.
My grandmother, Lydia Batten, walks among summertime flowers in the Batten’s garden in Flat River, Missouri, circa 1960.

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.

My grandfather Richard Batten, after whom I was named, and from whom I seem to have inherited my photographic talents, poses with some early-spring flowers at one of his homes is Flat River, Missouri in about 1957.
My grandfather Richard Batten, after whom I was named, and from whom I seem to have inherited my photographic talents, poses with some early-spring flowers at one of his homes is Flat River, Missouri in about 1957.
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4 Comments

  1. I was just this very evening telling Tracey about your apartment tomatoes, and how you wound up with so many, you gave yourself mouth sores. We may have eaten the last of our abundant harvest tonight; the hornworms took up residence Sunday morning. Ah well. On to the cucumber vegstravaganza!

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  2. I hesitate to say that my mother had a “green thumb”. I clearly remember the work and research she put into all her gardening and the trial-and-error processes she went through to grow so many of the fruits and vegetables we ate. It wasn’t an innate talent with her, certainly, but a lifelong dedication to the process.

    My maternal grandmother was the children of sharecroppers who lost their farm and implements during the Depression and Dust Bowl.

    As for me, I’m stuck with a small lawn and some shrubs. I’ll probably leave it at that. ;-)

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