Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1948
In an earlier age when most households still relied on home grown fruit and vegetables for a sizable share of their annual food, it was all hands to the garden both out of economic necessity and as social activity. Children were socialized in the arts of plant husbandry - soil preparation, planting, fertilising, watering, weeding, harvesting and the like. Post harvest it was about storing and preserving - bottling, making jam, and the like. If little boys didn't get trained in the kitchen arts in those days they at least got to taste samples and the naturally curious learned enough so they could years later work out how mum used to make all those things.
This old bird recalls empty seed packets of Arthur Yates & Co pierced by pieces of kindling wood at the end of planted rows marking where particular vegetables had been planted. In my neck of the veggie garden between the two apple trees, I remember planting sweet corn because that was something dad didn't plant as well as peas, radishes, and a few other things, expanding to green and chili peppers in later years. And since we lived within earshot of Lancaster Park in Christchurch, I can remember being in the garden and dad, upon hearing a large cheer from the crowd at the Park, declaring: Canterbury must have scored!
Now try to get most youngsters today - beyond the age of the lad pictured above - to tear themselves away from their video games or the mall to get outdoors for awhile let alone into the garden.
Methinks something was lost. And, please, don't try to get me all cheered up by the local food movement, farmers' markets shenanigans and all that. It still has a long, long way to go. Maybe too long a way with not so very much long term commitment from enough people. But you've got to hope - and take action, right?
What did your garden grow?