Heritage Gardening – Growing Plants From Childhood

By Mary Ellen Ellis | June 21, 2020
by Mary Ellen Ellis
June 21, 2020

Your garden can be anything you want it to be: purely decorative, practical, or in tune with nature and the local ecosystem. For me, gardening is a little bit of everything. But I find myself drawn to plants from childhood, what my parents grew and that have good memories attached.

Garden Inspired by Family Memories

When I think back on some of my favorite childhood plants, those mostly found growing in my garden today are certain vegetables inspired by family.

Sweet Sugar Snap Peas

My parents started a fairly large vegetable garden when I was young. I don’t think my siblings and I were much help with it until it was time to harvest. Then, my absolute favorite part of the garden was the sugar snap peas.

I was already an unusual child in that I loved veggies. They were my favorite foods, and sugar snap peas were the best, especially right off the vine. I think at least half of what I picked never made it back to the kitchen.

Today, although I don’t have a big vegetable patch, I do try to put in these tasty pea pods each season. And some things don’t change because I mostly just eat them raw right off the vine.

My Favorite Tomatoes

My grandfather was a great gardener too. He didn’t have a big vegetable garden, but he did grow several tomato plants every year. It was always a joy to get paper bags full of fresh, delicious tomatoes in August.

I try my hand at tomatoes now but, unfortunately, not with the same success. I do have favorites, though. I have grown some grape and cherry tomatoes and had some good harvests. One year, however, I lost each plant to a marauding wild animal who dragged the entire plant out of every pot and off to its lair. I think it may have been a groundhog, but remains a mystery to this day.

And Don’t Forget the Flowers Too

My mom always grew zinnias. For a long time, I didn’t have enough sunlight to make these cheery flowers happy. Now, I grow them from seed each spring and put them in sunny containers. The bright red, pink, and orange blooms take me back to simpler times and happy memories of my childhood days.

I don’t make all my gardening choices based on nostalgia, but sometimes, without even realizing it, I end up choosing plants that are familiar and comforting.

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  • Padma
    Comment added June 27, 2021Reply

    I really think growing veggies from your childhood memories is a great thing especially during this corona time- really uplifting & great for your emotional health. I also tried to grow things this past year that I have never grown before- something that connected me to my birth place. Did not produce a large crop but it was fun spending time outside ?

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