Five Home Gardeners Reaped Happy Results in Summer, 1952
"Mistress Mary, quiet contrary, how does your garden grow?" The answer to that age-old question was answered by five Johnson City families in June 1952 when Dorothy Hamill, Johnson City Press writer, interviewed and then penned an article about the five home gardeners who unquestionably displayed a green thumb.
"Although a number of growers," she said, "have been enjoying menus comprised partly of those best of all vegetables - the ones tended by their own hands. And they were anticipating in the near future more of those good things to eat that are almost ready to be plucked from the plants or dug from the ground."
The spell of hot weather, the gardeners concurred, hadn't had any adverse effects on the home plots. Rains, while thy did little to alleviate the heat wave, had at least kept the soil moist. That along with a bit of hoeing was a necessary part of those routine gardening chores. Several participants were asked to speak for themselves, and they did so without hesitation:
J.W. Baker (205 Tacoma Avenue) was holding a hoe when Ms. Hamill arrived at this residence. He told the writer that his garden was coming along fine. "It did get dry," he said, "but the rains have certainly helped. I was late in getting it planted, but we've already had lettuce, onions and radishes from our plot of ground.
"Right now, I have cucumbers coming on, and corn in the silk, which will be ready in a week or so. I have a lot of tomatoes, too, as well as peas, squash, the regular kind of green beans and cabbage that is heading up nicely."
Baker reported that he had little trouble with bugs or other pests, but stated that it was a little early for this kind of trouble. "About the middle of July," he noted," is the bad time for bugs, but I'm watching for any evidence and I'm ready to do battle with them."
J.W. also remarked that his garden was an enjoyable pastime, as well as a source of fresh food supply, and that he spends quite a bit of enjoyable time working on it.
Mrs. P.W. Moore (723 Pine Street) was inspected next. It was really a shared project for her and her husband. "We've had several meals from our own green beans," she declared, "and we've enjoyed onions, lettuce and turnip greens. We also had some strawberries but, unfortunately, the robins beat us to most of them."
"Our tomatoes are almost ripe, and so far, we've had no blights or pests, but we keep spraying and dusting them just in case. The spraying takes quite a bit of time since the rains wash the powder away, but they also helped to prevent excessive dryness of the ground.
Morton Brown (100 Clark Street) was the gardener in his family, although he received much valuable assistance from his six-year-old son, Butch. It was Mrs. Brown, though, who gave the report on the state of affairs in their vegetable plot. Its status was pretty well described when they were caught in the midst of canning green beans.
"We've been eating beans for some time," she informed them, "but last night my husband picked so many that I simply had to get busy and put them up for winter use. I've also cooked our own peas and squash, and our salads have been flavored with our onions and radishes. We'll have corn, tomatoes and beets soon.
"Butch is particularly interested in the corn patch. He loves corn on the cob, and was the one who insisted on planting quite a few pumpkin vines. Butch is already getting ready for Halloween; he has vines stashed all over the place."
"Mrs. Brown concluded, "everything does better when it's from our own garden. I'm sorry my husband didn't plant potatoes, but since they are coming in better now, it doesn't matter so much. Yes, he does quite a bit of sprinkling and spraying, and we hope the pests won't be too bad this year."
G.C. Meador (105 E. Unaka Avenue) finds gardening relaxing and a joy after the day's work. And he, too, declares there's nothing that tastes better than a vegetable from your own garden.
"We've had lettuce, onions, beans, radishes, beets and cucumbers already," he announced. "But it was an odd thing about those cucumbers. I didn't plant any this year, but they came up anyway. I did have some plants last year and they must have seeded themselves, but its the first time I ever heard of a voluntary cucumber vine."
"Our squash will be ready in a day or so, being the yellow crook-neck variety, said Mr. Meador. "And our tomatoes, corn and black-eyed peas are doing well. We have a raspberry patch too, and, in addition to the berries we've eaten, my wife has put up 24 pints of jelly. I had some boysenberry vines too, but they didn't thrive in this climate, and the blight got our two apple trees. However, I'm primarily interested in the vegetables.
G.C. noted that up until Saturday, he hadn't had too much trouble from pests, but the Mexican bean battle got busy and so did he. He had been spraying regularly since then. He groaned when he mentioned "dat ole rascal bean beetle."
Mrs. A.J. Luntsford had suffered some damage in the Carter-Sell Addition among the green things planted there. The beetles had been pretty bad there. "We've had to do quite a bit of spraying to keen them down," she said. "The potato bugs are beginning also, but so far there are no evidences of blight.
Mrs. Luntsford declared that the dry weather had affected her garden somewhat, but frequent hoeing had kept it in condition. She has already garnered beans, beets, squash, cabbage, potatoes, and cucumbers. Of course, it was a bit early for tomatoes and corn, but the time was not far off when they will be ready for some good eating. Cantaloupes and watermelons were also ripening on their vines in the Luntsford garden.
Dorothy Hamill ended her expose saying, "If you're one of those individuals who prefers swimming or golfing to gardening, the grocery stores are well stocked now with these fresh vegetables. But any home gardener will still assert that his homegrown produce has far superior flavor than anything sold in a store.
This article gave me much pleasure because we lived on Johnson Avenue from 1950 to 1957, behind Henry Johnson School and had our own garden on a lot that we purchased next to our residence. My dad could have been interviewed for this article because his thumb was definitely green. Tarzan would have been right at home on our property.
Also, the Morton Brown family lived at the intersection of Johnson Avenue and (100) Clark Street. I recall playing in their yard and probably their garden as a youngster. I went to high school with their daughter, Sandra. This was before both roads were paved.
Anyone not interested in gardening could easily patronize a local supermarket, such as Looney's Super Market (figure 1), or take their family to a good affordable restaurant like Derby Grill (figure 2). I believe I will have Derby's prime roast beef, au jus; Idaho whipped potatoes; fresh garden stringless beans; and scalloped tomatoes.
For dessert, the fresh strawberry shortcake with ice cream sounds like a winner. That's quite a meal and it only costs one dollar. Oh well, so much for home gardening.