My name is Dalene Tibbs and I am a backyard gardener. I come from a long line of gardeners/farmers. When my ancestors landed on the North American shores in the early 1700s, they came to farm. Through the generations, they migrated from Virginia to the Carolinas to Arkansas, always farming.
My grandmother was not a backyard gardener. She had an enormous garden, much like the one pictured above. It was beside the house and was irrigated from a continually flowing artesian well. She and her daughters worked all summer, each summer, putting by enough vegetables to last the winter.
She did not grow potatoes, however. Potatoes were grown in a separate large field worked by the men. The great number of potatoes were stored in a cool root cellar where they lasted until the next spring planting.
My grandmother never in her life had an outside job. Her job, and my grandfather's, was feeding and clothing the children. They grew enormous quantities of food. As her children left home, her garden became smaller and smaller, but she still had a little one when she died at age 86.
My mother and father continued the planting and growing tradition with a huge garden as I grew up. When I was nine years old, we moved into town. But the large garden continued in the backyard of our one acre plot, with my mother canning enough vegetables to last the winter.
My mother became a backyard gardener after my dad died and the children left home. She still gardened as she had all her life; long rows of vegetables planted in the ground. In her 60s, however, she only put out a few flowers, saying she was no longer able to work a garden. If only she had known what I know now. You don't have to have a lot of land and a lot of time to grow organic vegetables for your table.
In my younger years, after I left home, I did not garden. I went to college, raised 3 children, and had a career. But the love of the land and growing plants was always there. I just had to figure how to squeeze it into my busy schedule.
Eventually I became aware of the raised bed method of vegetable gardening. It fit well with my time schedule and my tiny back yard.
I think I will be like my grandmother, gardening until my time is up. But it will be easier, more productive, and in a smaller space.