Just had to include this beautiful essay from one of my gardeners.

When thinking about how I became involved in gardening it always takes me back to my childhood.  I grew up on a farm in Lee County – we had beautiful, black angus beef cattle, tobacco and a “good sized” garden.  In the summertime when we were out of school, my sisters and I were responsible for helping in the garden and canning of our abundant vegetables.  My Dad would always leave a list of gardening chores for us with Mom.  We would always help weed and hoe out the green beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. in the garden.  Then later in the season on those hot summer days when it came time to can the green beans, tomatoes, corn, etc., that was part of our summertime chores as well.  Naturally, we thought we were as you say “over worked and under paid farm girls”.  We helped our Mom wash the beans, break the beans and pack them in the jars for canning.  Goodness gracious we were working hard – we thought!  Same thing for the tomatoes and corn!   I remembers us commenting “We will never marry a farmer!”  But as you get older you have an outstanding appreciation for your parents and the knowledge of home gardening you gained as a child!  You feel proud to know how to work in the garden and grow your own vegetables, proud to have the ability to preserve your bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Back then families preserved their fruits and vegetables to help sustain good, quality food for their family meals.  They were raised to be saving.  Gardening for them was a staple for their livelihood.  What better food for your family than the delicious canned vegetables that you grew in your garden!  You realize how “good” it tasted, and how much you enjoyed those big suppers!

My husband and I have had a garden and preserved our vegetables and garden produce for as long as we have been married.    He, also, was raised on a farm and his family grew a large garden and canned lots vegetables.  They had shelves of beautiful canned fruits and vegetables in their basement.  When we were first married my Mom would always come up and help us can green beans and make tomato juice.  So, now when we are canning it always reminds me of canning with my Mom.  Gardening reminds me of those gorgeous big tomatoes that my Dad grew and the best  corn on the cob ever.  I think gardening is part of our heritage and definitely a tradition that we should preserve.  Whenever we finish canning our jams, beans and tomatoes I like to display them on the countertop in the kitchen.  I love to admire their beauty before I pack them away for storage!  HAPPY GARDENING!!  SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRESERVE THE TRADITION.