I started my first garden when I was seven. My dad took me to the Azusa Feed and grain store where I carefully counted out my precious silver and copper coins to buy packets of radish seeds and sweet yellow corn. i also splurged on that first gardening shopping trip[ and bought an heirloom beefsteak seedling. I soon learned tha gardening involves digging and fining earth and weighing patience against my perceived need to water my vegetables.
My first attempt at gardening in the backyard of our Azusa home taught me a lot. I quickly learned you can over water tomatoes, and that it’s sometimes necessary to go to war with crawluy or hoopt things that feast on your plants.
Little eight year old Jimmy learned a lot about gardening that first year. Important things like: horse manure and rabbit poop is better than chicken guano (which contains outrageous amounts of urea-- pure nitrogen); and, Southern California back yard wild things are very good at eating most of the bugs that want to gnaw on your first crop of vegetables.
It was a small garden on the edge of our homemade BBQ patio.My special place in our house at in Azusa was a platform fort on top of a corner in the patio. Crouching down in my fort i watched my first garden begin to grow. And it was from this perch that I saw a plump mockingbird pluck a grasshopper that was a feasting in my garden. that bird took off, laning about three feet from my sacred man-cub perch, grasshopper legs sticking out of his beak, all akimbo. I still have as lot of admiration for mockingbirds. i told my grandfather about the mighty mockers lunch, adding, I think he smiled at me.
My 19th Century Ozark born grandfather looked across the dinner table and quipped, “you’re lucky you saw it, mockingbirds have mighty stiff lips.”
I’m a lot older now, but I still love to garden.This year I have almost two score heirloom tomatoes in my raised bed and containers, plus red and green cabbages that will be picked in another week and replaced with a variety of peppers. My radishes have germinated and I’ve surrounded my raised beds with natural insect barriers such as garlic and tobacco.
Spring avian migrations have brought mockingbirds back to Escondido and I’m waiting to see one of my dive bombing/looping bird buddies go whipping out of my garden past my patio with a grasshopper or other bug varmint hanging out of his smiling beak.
Seeing a mockingbird smile is a rare and joyous thing because in the words of my grandfather, “they have mighty stiff lips.”
Merry Melody And that’s all for now folks..Jim Forbes on March 10, 1015.