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From Texas Farm Girl to Urban Gardener

I grew up in Texas, the daughter and granddaughter of farmers. And until I was eight years old, we lived in a dusty little west Texas town. (When I say dusty, I mean my mom used to stuff towels at the base of our exterior doors to keep sand from blowing in the house.) Just beyond the wood fence that wrapped around our back yard was nothing but fields—one of my grandfather’s farms—except for the calf pen we had off to the right side of the yard.

Papa’s farm behind our house, like all of the properties he and my dad farmed, was planted mostly with cotton in the summer and wheat in the winter. But a small part of the land was always reserved for planting an edible garden: beans, peas, watermelon, and the like. And in the summers we worked on the farms, moving irrigation pipes (this was before it became motorized) and walking the rows with a hoe in hand—we earned twenty-five cents per row. But the big bucks came at the end of the summer when my sisters and I harvested food from the farm, loaded it into our little red wagon and walked the neighborhood selling our spoils by the bushel!

I’ve wanted to plant a garden in my backyard for as long as I can remember but never have until this year. Ironically, I’m one of the last to the party for the latest trend: urban gardening. On Mother’s Day my son and I planted our first seeds. He picked carrots, corn, cantaloupe, and watermelon for his crops. I planted beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, radishes, beets, and some herb pots. We also planted blueberry bushes and a peach tree. And tending the garden has become our summer project.


So far I’ve only killed a few things: the tarragon and chives are goners. And apparently summer in Alabama is too hot to grow patty pan squash. But I’ve eaten 3 peppers and a few cherry tomatoes that we grew! I’ll be checking in occasionally in the next few weeks with reports from my garden and share recipes they inspire. My pictures here show how things look today.

Editor's note: If Julie's garden inspires, check out these stories for more on do-it-yourself gardens:

Start a Community Garden

Herb Gardening 101

Three Easy Plants Every Cook Can Grow