Niagara Gazette — By this time of the year, we were definitely ready to be outdoors, not cooped up in the oil-burning, forced-air furnace-heated stuffy confines of the house. Reading and re-reading the little 5 cent packets of seeds, labeled with exquisite pictures of the beautiful crops they would yield, was a favorite pastime during the dark cold days of the seemingly perpetual winters, perfect fodder for dinner-time chat led by Dad, who was most anxious to get out there, get started.
Spring was welcomed, embraced, celebrated around our house. Mom’s annual spring-cleaning binges were wearing us all out, so we took on our chores in the garden with absolute glee.
We all had garden duties after school. It was the same in most of the neighborhoods all over the city in those days, when “hoeing” meant something entirely different from what it means now.
Having a Victory Garden was just part of the urban landscape then — few families were without them.
Planting our gardens as soon as possible after the winter thaw was a symbol of great family pride. Timing the planting so we got the right things in the ground at the right time was a skill we learned from our parents who, like millions of Americans during the Depression and World War II, depended on their gardens to supplement their pantries.
Like so many others in our neighborhood, Dad was raised on a farm; he taught us how to plant, tend and harvest our gardens. We plowed, raked, weeded, watered, fertilized, sprayed and did everything we could to have the best garden on the block.
We planted rows of greens, cabbage, mustards and turnips and, of course, collard greens, some from seeds and others from tender little starter plants. Dad would drive us out to the farms in Ransomville and Wilson to find the best he could.