Jerry’s Patio Garden -While Waiting for the Soil Report


This week’s picture:  I divided my cumcumber sprouts into 3 pots.  Jerry’s Patio Garden is coming along.

This week’s post:  While Waiting for the Soil Report

Spring was really springing in ther Spring of 1966.  My vegetable plants were getting taller.  The tomato plants finally came up.  School would be out soon. All those good feelings were doused when the 4H lady told us that our soil reports would be delayed for another 2 weeks.  That happened on a Friday and this meant that I had to start the weekend with a feeling of disappointment.  The disappointment was small but it was disappointment nonetheless.

In the meantime,

Hauling Water

It was a springtime weekend down south and that means it was hot!  Mid-seventies in May.  Saturday morning in the rural south meant chores –for me.  First chore early in the morning was hauling water from the spring.  This was mid-sixties in the rural south and a lot of families did not have running water yet.  Many had wells in their backyard.  Our well had finally run dry and we ended up filling it with dirt.  My job therefore, was to journey up to the spring and fetch water once a day.  After school during the week and and early on Saturday morning I would fetch the drinking water.  I would take eight, one gallon plastic jugs, load them into my long red wagon and trek one mile uphill to the spring that was on the property of the Mills family.  We were given permission to enter their property and fetch water from the spring.  The spring was amazing.  Just fresh water continually sprouting from the ground like water sprouting from a modern day park fountain.  The water sprouted upwards about 5 inches high which was enough for me to place my gallon jugs underneath and fill each one.  After filling the jugs I would slowly and carefully roll my wagon downhill and deposit the drinking water next to the old icebox (they called these refrigerators in the big city).  Then i would reach into the icebox, grab a jug that was already there and pour myself a nice tall glass and drink my sweat away.

Chopping Wood for the Cook Stove

No one who lives in this  21st century digital age can imagine a cook stove that required burning wood for cooking.  In was 1966 in the rural south “the country” and many families still cooked, fried, boiled, stewed, simmered and baked on wood burning stoves.

After hauling water, my next chore was to chop wood for the cook stove.  Pulp wood was big business in the rural south and we had a few pulp wood trucks that passed through the neighborhood.  After a drop off of wood from the lumber yard, the drivers would pick up scrap wood, load the scrap wood on their trucks and drop it off in the yards of families that needed it –for a negligible fee.

I would walk out to the front of the yard, rolling my long red wagon, with head down and focused on the next task.  I would arrive at the scattered pieces of wood that were thrown from the trucks into the yard and begin loading them on top of my wagon.  Usually, none ever fit in the wagon.  I tied a rope around the stacked wood to keep it from falling off.  The wood came in all sizes.  Most pieces were at least four to five feet in length but with varying shapes, widths and thickness. I once found a piece that was perfect for stick ball!  (Yes, we played stick ball in the country!  It wasn’t just a big city pasttime). I would transport the wood to the back of the house where the axe and chopping box were.  I would commence to chopping long pieces in to small foot long pieces that would fit into the stove.  Then i would store some of the wood in a wooden feeding trough sat aside for wood storage and i would take a load into the house and place on a small bin next to the stove.

Hauling water, chopping wood and homework were my daily tasks –except weekends, then it was just hauling water and chopping wood.  I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of that work then, but I really appreciate the experience now.  It gave me a foundation of discipline and a work ethic which I apply to everything that I do now.

–especially with my current day, 2016 patio garden:  my tomato plants sprung this week and I’m very happy about that!  See you next week on Jerry’s Patio Garden!


Next Week on Jerry’s Patio Garden:  My Soil Did Not Rate High At All in the Soil Report

Blog posts in Jerry’s Patio Garden appear every Sunday at 5:00pm

Disclaimer:  Jerry’s blog about growing up in the rural south is based on many actual events and many ways of life.  Many of the people appearing in Jerry’s blog are somewhat fictionalized and names are fully fictionalized.





Stay Tuned for a New Post in Jerry’s Patio Garden!

Sunday at 5:00 pm, a new post in Jerry’s Patio Garden will appear.  Title for this Sunday’s post:  “While I Was Waiting for the Soil Report”.  Jerry talks about life in the rural south and explores his daily “chores” such as hauling water, chopping wood for the cook stove and a few childhood adventures.

Blog posts in Jerry’s Patio Garden appear every Sunday at 5:00pm

See you Sunday at 5pm…Jerry

Disclaimer:  Jerry’s blog about growing up in the rural south is based on many actual events and many ways of life.  Many of the people appearing in Jerry’s blog are somewhat fictionalized and names are fully fictionalized.

Jerry’s Patio Garden – Sprouts are a Sprouting


My cucumbers sprouted first.  Thursday!  Cucumbers and zucchini usually sprout right away.  At least that is my experience.  What’s yours?  Feel free to write a short comment.

Speaking of experience:  firstly, i am not a gardening expert.  Gardening is a hobby of mine.  This hobby began when i was in 4th grade.  It was the Spring of 1966 and i lived well outside the suburbs of Columbia, South Carolina.  Some would say that “i lived in the country” or that “i was country”.  Anyway my neighborhood consisted of 3-4 houses within a 3 block (“country” blocks, not city blocks — “country” blocks are a little bigger) radius and after that the nearest neighbors were at least 2 to 3 miles away.  In between the neighbors was farmland, livestock, wells, springs, wild hogs, bobwhite quails, vultures, snakes and many other critters.

I lived with my uncle and aunt at the time.  My uncle had a large garden wherein he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, corn, squash and green beans.  I was so fascinated by the work that he did that i decided to pursue gardening myself.  First i joined the 4H Club at my school and began to learn about soil and how its quality is important to planting and cultivating vegetables.  I remember that we were given small boxes to take home.  Our assignment was to collect soil samples, fill the box and turn it in to the 4H Club leaders.  Our boxes would then be taken to labs and the quality of the soil would be sampled.  A report would be generated that rated the quality of the soil in each box.  I grabbed a sample of soil from our back yard (not the garden area) and turned it in.  This sampling and report generation process would take several weeks.

In the meantime, I asked my aunt and uncle for permission to plant my own garden.  You should have seen the grins that question elicited.  They knew that I had no clue about cultivating a garden, nonetheless, I was a spoiled nephew and they gave me what i wanted.

We lived in a wooden house that my uncle built himself.  The house sat in the middle of an acre of tract that was cleared of trees and brush.  To the right of the house was another large clearing.  This is where my uncle’s garden was planted.  Behind the house was a large chicken coop.  In back of the coop was a forest, referred to, by the kids of our small community, as “the woods”.  To the left of the house was the lawn with a few trees scattered about.   My garden would be in the rear section of this area.  Early on a Saturday morning, my uncle got me out of bed, we ate breakfast –grits, fresh eggs and fresh sausage of course … after all this was rural South Carolina– and we headed to the garden spot.  He picked up two tools that we would work with:  a pick axe and a hoe.  My garden would be a small garden.  The spot was no more than 10 x 6 feet in length and width.  He taught me how to break the ground with the pick axe.  I was a small and the pick axe was nearly taller than me.  After a few swings, my uncle gave me a “good job” and asked for the pick axe.  He then began to finish breaking all the ground in my junior garden.

After breaking ground, we proceeded to pull out all the clumps of grass, dandelion weed, other weeds and rocks from the broken soil.  This is where the hoe came in handy.  You would rake the clumps of broken soil in a back and forth motion to discover the rocks.  You would remove the rocks and the excess weeds and then you would use the hoe to break up the clumps into fine soil that was ready for seeds.  Finally we used the hoe to make 4 long furrows.  We were close to finishing.

My uncle showed me how to make little holes in the soil with my fingers, about 3 to 4 inches deep, for planting the seeds.  He showed me the proper spacing between the holes.  This was especially important for vegetables that grew on vines.  We finished planting all the seeds and filled all the holes with soil.  The first row was yellow squash, the second row was tomatoes, the third row was watermelon and the fourth row would be green beans.  We finally finished and I stepped back and admired my garden.  The large rectangle of broken soil, organized into long furrows surrounded by green grass looked very swell!

Two weeks later, the sprouts were a sprouting!

Stay Tuned for Next Week’s Chapter:  Finally, The Soil Report Arrived