Sunday, March 10, 2019

My Italian Father and His Garden...

If you're Italian or grew up Italian American with strong Italian traditions than that would mean someone in your family has an Italian garden. The garden that you grew up knowing with tons of tomato plants, eggplant, basil, zucchini, (from which you got your zucchini flowers to make fritelle) and so on.. what didn't the Italian garden have?

In my case, you were the kid who went to school bragging about your father's garden and how you ate fresh vegetables or how you made tomato sauce at the end of the summer with the tomatoes from your garden. My mother would always prepare nightly dinner in the summers with all fresh vegetables right out of the garden, now a days this is called "GREEN" or "ORGANIC." Who knew my mother and father had me living so green conscious and organic from an early age, to me it was just normal. It still is. So when people talk about starting a herb garden, I kind of snicker not because it's funny, but because I laugh to myself about how lucky I am that I grew up with such a vast knowledge of agriculture, good food, great cooking and always understanding the quality of what you eat.


My father still grows tons of tomato plants as you can see from the photo above and we do in fact make our sauce with those tomatoes from the garden, which lasts the whole winter. It's a tradition we preserved as Italian Americans-- my brothers, sister and myself hold this to be very sacred and consider ourselves extremely fortunate to know how to bottle the sauce in jars. Not only are we making our own sauce, but we've learned to cultivate fruit trees, such as peach trees, which we make our own jam and pies. We know my father is the garden guru, he has neighbors and strangers just stopping in his yard nightly just to ask him questions about how to grow the best garden. Not only does he give advice, but he's giving away plants too, better yet he comes to your yard and plants it for you. It gives him immense pleasure to see others succeed in gardening. No one like my father, that is for sure. So, if you were thinking of actually starting that garden, stop thinking and just do it - there is something extremely therapeutic to gardening and not only that, but it's preserving a very important tradition in our Italian American culture.

** Update my father is now 89 years old and is preparing his seeds for this summer's garden. 


5 comments:

Lisa at Wanderlust Women said...

Can clearly relate. Even my Mom's current landlord who is from Calabria is too funny. Each time I ask him what a certain plant's name is....he tells me "Zia's fiori" or "Teresa's flower." He names them after the person who first gave him the root or clipping......and let's not even start on fig trees. :)

Margaret said...

That is funny Lisa and very true.. Thanks for sharing!

Addicted2Italy - Larry Aiello said...

Great post, I can certainly relate, as we used to make fresh tomato sauce, and jar them. That was a tradition as I was growing up in Westchester. Later we moved to Florida, and my dad would spend hours in the garden, growing the tropical fruits, oranges, tomatoes, etc. All of my aunts and uncles have some type of garden too. It's just in our blood. Larry

Dara said...

Thanks for this post Margaret. I can totally relate. My family has always had a great garden every year for as long as I can remember. My bisnonna taught me how to compost kitchen scraps when I was a small child. And we have always had trees that produce something we could eat. When eating local and living green became fashionable we were ahead of the curve.
-Dara

Margaret said...

Thanks Dara and Larry - it's so great to hear others can relate!