As the economy continues to make life difficult for many of us, I’m looking at stories of success in other difficult times. A couple of weeks ago, Jason and I were getting some of the planting beds ready and I had been dreaming of a wonderful, fresh spring salad. We were at the end of a pay week, trying to stretch what we had until payday arrived and of course nothing is ready quite yet in the garden, but as I was digging out dandelions it occurred to me that they are edible and since there are no chemicals on our land, they would be safe to eat. So began my research online to find the perfect recipe for a dandelion salad. I found all kinds of wonderful recipes! As a child I remember picking dandelions for my father to make wine with, so there are lots of recipes for that out there. I also discovered a French recipe for making jelly with the flowers—that one I’m going to try. I landed on a recipe with a cooked dressing that wilted the leaves a little. It was wonderful! The next night I steamed them as warm greens mixed with a small amount of mixed canned greens I had on hand—also very good. But, in my search I stumbled upon the most interesting lady on YouTube. Her name is Clara and she is in her 90’s. She has a whole series of videos in which she shares her recipes and stories of living through the Depression. Her YouTube channel is called Great Depression Cooking. She is so interesting—well worth traveling over to YouTube to meet her! Here is the link to the dandelion salad.
And then a story that most gardeners have heard many times. The story of the Mortgage Lifter tomato; the story has become legend and I wanted to see if there was a ‘true’ version out there somewhere. Here is what I found; an interview that was taken from a tape recording that Radiator Charlie did with his grandson—told in his own words; the closest to the true story we’ll probably ever get!
MC Byles (Radiator Charlie) without any formal training, but wanting to produce the best tomato he could, planted a German Johnson tomato and surrounded it with 10 other tomatoes—the largest and best he could find. He hand pollinated the German Johnson with the others and then saved the seeds. He did this, perfecting it for 7 years until he had a stable tomato. This tomato is low acid, flavorful and very large. MC sold those tomato seedlings for $1 each and within 6 years finished paying off his mortgage.
Food for thought, huh? I work at a garden center during the busy season, and people sometimes complain about the prices—can you imagine people paying a dollar a plant back then?!
So those are my thoughts for today—we have people like Clara to show us how to get by with what we have and people like Radiator Charlie to show us that with a little ingenuity, we can not only survive this economy, . . . we can thrive!
Happy Easter weekend!