Monday, April 8, 2013

Let's Get Growin'! with Marilyn Quade Switzer

Let’s Get Growin’ with Marilyn Quade Switzer

Gardening When You are Handicapped or Just Plain Worn Out…and Why I Garden…

I am a 60 year old overweight woman with two total knee replacements, one total hip replacement, degenerative disk disease, two bulging disks, raging arthritis in my right shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, and my left ankle is shot and the only way to fix it is to fuse the joint which will really screw up my balance.  I am already very “unbalanced.”  I suffer extreme pain in that ankle occasionally like a severely sprained ankle.  This comes on suddenly.  When it does, I have to hobble over to my garden chair, sit down, dig my heel into the ground and do something like traction by pulling my leg away from my ankle for 5 or 10 minutes, and then I can get up and go back to work.  I think of pain as proof that I am still alive. What a glorious feeling!

My Mom was “Mother Nature.”  She could grow anything.  It seemed like with the wave of her hand, the weeds would wither and her flowers and vegetables would flourish.  My Dad was a great potato and water melon grower.  He thought if you can’t eat it, don’t waste your time and space growing it!  They passed away two years apart, so, I planted flowers on Mom’s grave and potatoes on Pops.  It seemed like the right thing to do.

When Mom was alive, I tried to grow a garden.  Ha!  I thought I did everything like she did.  I even tried waving my hand.  When I did that, my plants would die and my weeds would flourish!  After Mom died, all that changed...her green thumb was the best inheritance she could have ever left me.  When I’m in my garden I feel her with me.  I have a friend who says she sees dead people.  She didn’t know my mom.  One day she was visiting me and we were out in the garden and she gave me a funny look and said “Do you know your mom is here?”  I said “Yes, she helps me.”  Then she described who she saw.  I said “Yep, that’s her.”  I also feel closest to God when I’m in the garden because it is, after all, his garden.  I’m just his tool.

I grow such a large garden because I need the exercise and need to keep busy.  You can’t go fishing all the time!  I sell produce to those who can afford it and give it to those who can’t.  I can and freeze as much as I have room to store.  I give a lot of that away to friends and family.  They just have to promise to return the canning jars. 

Adventures in Canning…

I didn’t start canning until about five years ago when I started really gardening.  The two years ago, I learned the joys of pressure cooker canning.  I started with a bumper crop of potatoes.  I used my French fry cutter and cut the potatoes in strips then cross cut them in about half inch cubes.  This works great for spur of the moment potato salad, potato soup, hash browns and even mashed potatoes.  Then I canned deer meat.  Wow!!  It makes for more spur of the moment things such as stew, deer n’ noodles, or whatever.  All you do is cut the meat in about one inch cubes, soak it  one hour in a brine of IT salt per quart of water, rinse and drain, pack in jars leaving one inch head space.  Do not add liquid and process following canner directions.  You don’t have to say “Oh, I forgot to thaw out anything for supper!”

One day a friend of mine and I went fishing…the bass were really biting.  The only problem was they were only four or five inches long.  Tow out of three casts we had fish.  We hated to throw them back though it was obvious the pond was overstocked with small bass.  We fished for about two hours and in all that time we caught maybe three that were keepers.  The larger fish were feeding on the smaller fish and didn’t want what we had to offer.  So I was setting there catching little fish and thought I might try canning these little rascals. I have been told that when you can fish, the bones become soft like in salmon and bass are very bony.  So I started putting the little bass in a five gallon bucket of water and when it got full, I’d dump[p it in a cooler.  At the end of the two hours, I alone had sixty little bass.  When I cleaned them, I scaled them, gutted and cut the head and fins off, buried all the entrails in the garden and pressure canned the fish in pint jars with Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I just soaked them in salt water over night, rinsed them, then soaked them just enough to coat them with the hot sauce for about an hour, then put them in the pint jars vertically packed as tight as I could get them…leaving an inch head space, and processed them in the pressure canner following the recommended pressure and time. 

Well, here comes another Wow!  The next time we went fishing, we both saved the little rascals and had about 100 fish.  That batch was canned in mustard with the same method.  The mustard kind of separates and gets watery but really tastes good and no bone problems!

The Barnard Music Jam…

The first Saturday of every month, I host a free music jam in Barnard, Kansas at the community building.  We have classic country, Gospel, oldies rock and roll, and blues.  We have a lot of very good musicians of many ages.  The jam starts at noon.  I serve two kinds of good homemade soup during the winter months and during the summer months, barbeque, smoked, and oven fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw or baked beans and maybe even many flavors of homemade ice cream with a suggested donation. This is served all day or until it runs out.  The music starts at 1 p.m. and goes to about 4 p.m.  Then at 7 p.m. I host a card party and ask that you bring finger foods to share.  There is a kitty jar to help pay for the rent of the community building.  Come for good food, good fellowship, music appreciation, and relaxation.  There’s even room to dance, if you get the urge!!  No alcohol is allowed in the building.  There’s a park right across the street for the kids if you need it.

More to come…

I’ve been asked to write more for the blog but I’ve rambled enough for now.  I’ll share more about my handicapped gardening methods later, but now you know a little about me.  Keep looking for more…now it’s time to get back to the happy patch of dirt in Barnard, Kansas.

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