Memories of Gardens of Long Ago
|Ryan and Jonathan|
North Ogden, Utah
PeachesWhen my children were young, we lived in North Ogden, Utah. At one time, before farms were broken up into subdivisions, North Ogden had been an area where the folks in Ogden would go to get peaches, apricots, and cherries from the many orchards that grew in the area. North Ogden was also known a place that grew wonderful raspberries.
Our home had been built on a fairly large lot where one of those a peach orchards once stood. The builder had left some of these old peach trees on the property, and by the time we bought the house three trees remained. The former owners of the house had built a new home where an apricot orchard once stood. They asked if we could trade trees each year. In other words, they wanted to come and pick peaches from one of our trees in exchange for us picking apricots from one of their trees. It was an arrangement that worked well.
As the above photo of my two sons shows, these peach trees produced an abundant crop each and every year. Can you see how the branches are so loaded with peaches that they are nearly touching the ground?
While my children most likely have only great memories of climbing these trees and playing beneath the shade of them, I mostly remember that I had a love/hate relationship with them. I'm allergic to peach blossoms and to peach fuzz, so I would have a terrible time with my allergies when they were in bloom and when I had to pick them. Sometimes, when the trees were loaded with peaches, my arms would be covered with rashes when I would go out to pick peaches. I am also very afraid of heights, so I would not get up on the ladders to pick the peaches at the top. I hated to have the kids pick them too, because they would want to go out on the branches to reach those peaches inaccessible by ladders. I would stand on the ground afraid the branch would snap and they would fall and break a leg, an arm, a neck. If we didn't get them picked, the peaches would fall to the ground and make a terrible, mushy, smelly mess. The peaches would quickly rot on the ground and before long the air would have a terrible vinegar smell and the peaches would attract earwigs. Needless to say, I tried to harvest as many peaches as I could.
What did I do with all those peaches? I canned them. My memories of those days when the above photo was taken are memories of being very, very busy this time of year. In 1979, I had five children under the age of 12 and a very large yard and garden to help maintain. My former husband, the father of my children, did most of the maintenance and care of the yard and garden, but he would go off to summer camp for the Army Reserves every summer for two weeks. During that time, it was really a chore to keep up with the kids, the house, the yard, the garden, and canning. I wonder now how I did it. In my neighborhood, one could barely hold one's head up without feeling shame if one didn't relate the number of bottles of peaches, pears, applesauce, jam, tomatoes, or whatever else was in season one had preserved that week. It wasn't all peer pressure that drove me. The produce I canned was what fed us during the next year. We counted on it to supplement our food budget. Plus, there was great satisfaction that came from seeing my shelves in basement filled with all that beautiful produce bottled and waiting to be consumed. In many ways I miss those day, but I remember how bone tired I would be as I stood at the sink and peeled peaches and tomatoes, made jams and jellies, sauces and juices.
RaspberriesWe didn't just grow peaches. We grew a lot of raspberries. I never had many to freeze or to make into jelly because we ate them fresh as they ripened everyday. Raspberries are a lot of work to grow, but the rewards outweigh the work. What I wouldn't give to walk out into the yard to pick fresh raspberries again.
GrapesWe also grew grapes. Every fall, not long after the kids would have returned to school, I would step out onto the back deck and know that it was time to harvest the grapes. I could smell them when they were ready. This was usually just as the weather was turning cooler, just before the first hard freeze, in fact it seemed that there would be a slight frost the night before they were ready. Below, is a photo my me and my precious Julie as we show off the grapes we just harvested.
I had a steam juicer that I used to make grape juice. If you are interested in the process, you can read about it here: how to make grape juice. I would use some of the juice to make grape jelly. Yum! I miss that homemade grape juice and grape jelly. I still have the steam juicer and all the jars in the basement. What do think the odds are that I will ever use them again?