Gardening used to be a year-round chore

For many people these days, gardening is just a hobby and not the necessity it was years ago.

Gardening and then canning and preserving the fruits of their labor was a way of life for the housewife, especially those in the country who didn’t have a grocery store at the end of the street.

When company came around, she prided herself to take visitors down to the cool dark cellar or tank house and pull back the curtain behind which was displayed shelf upon shelf of pint and quart jars of fruits and vegetables that had been preserved during the previous growing season.

Back then, gardening was just about a year-round chore. The season would start the middle of January and extend until a good hard freeze would hit around Thanksgiving.

Today, gardeners spend countless hours researching information on the internet and reading books and magazines for tips and pointers to the “perfect garden.”

Back then, the latest and greatest was the Farmer’s Almanac, which was carefully studied to determine which were the best planting days — when to plant above-ground crops and when to plant root crops.

There were certain things to plant when the moon was “waxing,” and others for when it was “waning.”

In late-March or early-April, every gardener listened for the arrival of the scissor-tail flycatcher. The scissor-tails’ arrival was a sure sign that the last freeze had passed and it was safe to plant the cucumbers. Hopefully that was after Easter, since everyone held their breath during Holy Week because the full moon brought with it the possibility of a late freeze.

And it was also a good sign that if the mesquite trees had “greened up,” the last freeze was history.

Garden centers were not even heard of years ago, much less…

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