More than Potatoes

Garlic from the Feil’s Idaho garden

Last week found me traveling to visit some dear friends living in Idaho. The perfect weather enabled me to soak in the vast open landscapes found in eastern Oregon. As I drove through little farming towns along the way, I noted the flag of our country flying from almost every home. It brought an assurance that the hard working folks in these regions stand for the heart of this country.

As I crossed the state line into Idaho, there was a shift in farming practices. There was a mystery afoot as I saw crops “going to seed” filling the large tracks of land. Why did they not harvest much sooner? It seems this area of Idaho is known to produce vegetables for the very vegetable seeds we purchase for our own gardens!

My friends, Ken and Peg, live in the heart of this region. It was not a surprise to see their lovely landscaping as I approached their home. It didn’t take long to walk along garden paths in the back yard. Everything was lush and green. Birds flitted to the feeders along with the resident squirrel. The trickling water from the recycled water fountain gave a sense of peace to the area. I was overwhelmed at approach to their vegetable garden and the size of their crops. Each cabbage plant appeared to take up ten square feet. Tomato plants towered over my head supported by steel stakes and heavy wire due to the weight and abundance of fruit not quite ready for picking.

Goose Berry

There was one plant that particularly captured my attention. I had never grown or encountered it before – gooseberries! In fact it was gooseberry picking that started off our 4th of July activities! Two of the three plants produced hundreds of tiny green round berries about the size of my blueberries. However, the third gooseberry plant was covered in a dull rusty green covered fruit taking on the size of green Thompson grapes. They tasted a bit sweeter than their counterpart and it didn’t take long for the three of us to fill a huge bowl with its treasured fruit.

Cleaned for pie or jam?

After picking the fruit, we sat around the patio table and chatted about life as we discarded any stems that clung to the berries. We reminisced of spending time as children with our grandmothers shelling peas and string beans with them. Memories flowed freely and it gave pause to thought that it seems this shared activity is lost to our current generation. The convenience of prepackaged vegetables already picked and cleaned removes the element of memory building with family.

I pondered this concept of garden memories of yesteryear and the loss of such activities today. The more we worked on the berries the moments became precious as the three of us sat around the table sharing past garden memories, laughing of stories and mischief we experienced growing up. The gift of those recreated moments only took our time and an awesome gooseberry plant to create!

It is amazing what joy comes from gardening. Childhood memories are never lost to gardening experiences. Just ask my two children about composting or the outcome of finding cooked aphids on homegrown artichokes! Plant a garden and let the memories begin!

Belated Happy 4th of July!

6 thoughts on “More than Potatoes

  1. Plant a garden and let the memories begin!

    So true!!!

    We are considering selling our home next year and maybe moving to Eagle, Idaho.


  2. It was so wonderful to have you and you are a great gooseberry picker hope you will get a big crop soon they make a wonderful pie and jam thank you for everything you lift our spirits so much Ken just loves his gardening love you lady


  3. We have friends visiting for the summer. They are here quite a bit and are considered more like family. The kids have grown up helping me in my extremely large garden! Two have grown and are off on their own but the youngest two are still here to help. Eben will start a “live” video on Instagram so his friends can watch him weed and Johanna will run around with a mason jar catching grasshoppers and looper to feed to the chickens!! Haha!! At times I feel guilty that they are out there doing what should be my job. But then last night as we were swatting mosquitos and pulling pig weed I wondered if maybe the experience of helping Aunt Helen with her garden would become one of the wonderful memories as they looked back at their childhood and the time spent with us here at the ranch!!


    1. Helen, There is no doubt in my mind those memories will be tomorrows recollection of visiting you and your awesome garden! I would be willing to bet they will become the gardeners of tomorrow! Difficult to get the dirt out from under your nails when introduced to gardening at a young age!!!! Thanks for sharing!


  4. Ah Gooseberries – love them. Live in Arkansas and they do not grow well here. Use to grow them when I lived in Arizona. Have lived all over the West and I miss it so much. But when you marry an Arkie – they always return home eventually. Ha


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