“People would ask; what came first, the big garden or the big family? As one grew, the other did also.”
When asked why she chose to join Grow Appalachia with High Rocks this year, Eugenia Boggs Anderson answered that she wanted to grow a garden in her family plot on Brownsburg Road. Born in 1957, Eugenia was the middle child of 7 born to John and Mildred (Jane) Boggs. “There were 11 of us under one roof, 7 children and 4 adults.” The aforementioned roof was a one-bedroom house headed by Ms. Boggs-Anderson’s paternal grandparents. while there wasn’t much room in the house there was plenty of room in the family’s 2 large garden plots. All of the family, children included, participated in one way or another. Many hands made light work for the Boggs family.
A Family Affair
There were no gas-powered tillers in the 1950’s and work was done by hand. John used a horse drawn plow to till the earth in spring. In a time when DDT was commonly used, John didn’t use pesticides. He was an organic gardener before that term was ever used, preferring to use natural methods of pest management and fertilization. “(John) was a reader. He didn’t have much (formal) education but he would read everything.” He relied on the Farmers Almanac and read whatever else he could to help manage the gardens.
The children’s role in the gardens included weed and pest control. Eugenia remembers picking potato bugs off of what seemed to be “acres of potato plants”. The Boggs siblings enjoyed ridding themselves of the pests by burning them with a bit of kerosene. Though the children’s help was welcome with the potatoes, they were instructed to stay away from the cucumber patch. John was proud of his cucumbers and tomatoes and he was afraid they would trample his plants.
Storing the Harvest
The largest plot was down the road from the small house. Long rows of potatoes and sweet corn were planted, popcorn for the children, and the field corn for the family’s chickens and pigs. A root cellar was used to store potatoes and apples, but much of the harvest was canned. Canning the large harvest every year was quite an undertaking and mostly fell to the women in the house. In the time before air-conditioning, the tiny house’s kitchen was rendered even more claustrophobic due to the stifling heat put off by the stove. “I spent most of my time (then) outside under a pine tree reading Nancy Drew mysteries”, said Eugenia.
Like her father, Eugenia enjoys growing cucumbers and tomatoes. She also intends to grow lettuce, onions, and melons this year. Though the little house is no longer standing and the plots long grown over, plans have been made to till this spring. The Boggs garden will once again be filled with family, fresh vegetables, and a new generation of grandchildren to tend to the weeds and potato bugs. Just so long as they stay out of the cucumber patch.