Rangi Krishnan

Potatoes

Written in May 2019
Potatoes
Image by Congerdesign - Pixabay

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I'm reminded of my parents and their gardens in Tauranga. The section was about a quarter acre with the house somewhere in the middle. On one half and to the right of the front section, my dad had planted about twenty five citrus trees of all varieties. I know this because I was the one doing all the mowing and getting around the trees seemed to always take longer than it should.

On the left side, which was divided by a path leading from the front door to the mail box, my mum had lots of nice plantings of roses and other flowering types of green stuff. These gardens ran along the perimeter of that section with a grass section in the middle. I know this because I was the one doing the mowing.

Like most places, along the front and sides of the house beneath the eaves, there was more gardens; on the left side were various herbs mixed in among the flowering shrubs. On the right there was more such plantings including gooseberries. I know this because it was directly below my bedroom window. I remember tasting these to check their readiness. I remember the bitter taste flooding my mouth when it was too early and the satisfying sweetness when the time was right.

Around the back of the house was a concrete pad. I remember my dad, his friend and I were involved in laying all this concrete. I know this because I was doing a lot of mixing in the wheelbarrow.

To the left was the rotary clothes line and right behind it was this massive grapefruit tree. I was never really too fond of grapefruit but I'll eat it in a pinch; in other words, just to be polite.

To the right of the clothes line, my dad, with the help of a friend, had constructed this green house. It wasn't enclosed in glass but just a green mesh type of material. My dad used to potter in there with all sorts of non- edible stuff. It always felt a little wet and cold in there; enough such that it was a sufficient deterrent not to venture unless invited. The invitation, however, usually involved some chore to be performed.

On the right side of the house between the garage and concrete pad was this magnificent doris plum tree, cherry tree and a pear tree. In later years when things were looking weary and worn, a choko vine used to run amok in this area making life for these trees somewhat more difficult. My mum used to make a lot of choko dishes, which I tolerated, and she collected the fruit for sale at Turners and Growers auctions. I remember making a valiant effort to get rid of this noxious vine but it was better at growing than I was at eradicating.

Behind the garage were the large compost bins that my parents had built and an area where ocassional fires were lit to reduce rubbish. Also planted here were apple trees of different varieties.

At the end of the concrete pad was a wire fence that ran all the way along and behind the green house. It was the demarcation line between the main house and the substantial vege garden that lay behind it. But just behind the green house itself was this enormous peach tree. It was by far one of my favourite places to be. I remember climbing up into that tree with a book in one hand and picking a peach on the way up with the other. That tree provided lots of "me time"; something I always looked forward to on warm sunny days no matter the time of year. There was always space in amongst the branches for me to lay back and relax.

Behind the fence was the main vege garden and this was my mum's space. She taught us how to plant seeds and lots of edible stuff. I remember having a patch for carrots and potatoes in that garden, although I don't remember attending to it much. Nonetheless, the stuff seemed to grow whether I was there or not; doesn't get any better that from my point of view.

My parents gardens were extensive because, in those days, it needed to feed a household of two adults and a bunch of kids and often more. Also, being a vegetarian home, it was easier and cheaper to get what you needed out of the gardens and orchards and reserve the cash to supplement purchases. Things are somewhat reversed today but there is still something to be said about intensively cultivating home sections to supplement a lifestyle.


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