What a funny thing, childhood memories. Memories imprinted in you forever caused by a sound, a smell, a taste or a feeling. So fleeting and yet so real.
Some of my most wonderful childhood memories take place in my moms kitchen garden. I remember the sweet taste of strawberries and the feeling of oxalic acid on my teeth when eating rhubarb directly from the plant. I remember the smell of summer flowers mixed with the vegetables, the sound of chirping birds and the tickling feeling of asparagus foliage on my legs.
A garden like no other
I grew up in a small town in Jutland, Denmark, in the 1970s. Life in the small cities of Denmark was quite ordinary in many ways: Several meters of privet hedging, a lot of children to either play or fight with, gardens with huge lawns and the wonderful smell of chopped steak and fried onions in the air.
In many ways our garden looked like every other garden, and then not. Like most people we had strawberries, potatoes, chive, parsley, peas and carrots in long rows but my mother didn’t stop there, so we had raspberries, apples, rhubarb, parsnips, parsley roots, beet roots, asparagus, onions, garlic, zucchinis, several herbs, a greenhouse with tomatoes, cucumbers and a vine as well.
The extraordinary, however, was not the amount of vegetables but the fact that the vegetables were grown in raised beds. It was quite uncommon in Denmark at that time and I don’t remember seeing it elsewhere when I was a child.
The raised beds were not made like they are today, with walls of wood or stone. They were more like beds with 15 centimeters of extra added soil and leaning sides. My mom usually didn’t have any problems with the beds and the gravel paths, despite the lack of walls, unless my siblings and I decided to play hide and seek in the kitchen garden.
My first kitchen garden as a six year old
When my sister and I were about 5 and 6 years old, we each got a small plot in moms kitchen garden. I remember the joy of deciding what to grow for the first time. The plot was 1.5 by 1.5 meters and two small garden tiles served as a path. The plot contained our favourite plants and vegetables. Peas, carrots, strawberries and a perennial lupine from our granddad’s garden.
We were very proud of our small plots and we competed for the biggest carrots. I am sure, mom fertilized our plots but it was unnecessary with the large amount of dead animals we buried: Birds which died hitting the windows, pet animals and butterflies. The small plots taught us of the circle of life and not least the joy of producing nice fruits and vegetables.
Making new memories
As a teenager I was no longer interested in the kitchen garden. It was not until I was 20 years old and had moved from home, I rediscovered the joy of sowing and reaping. Living in an apartment, all my window sills were full of herbs and small plants and I educated as a florist. I starting dreaming of a kitchen garden, big enough to produce plenty of vegetables, fruits and berries for my husband and I.
When I turned 30 years old we bought our first house. A small country house with a beautiful view and high skies. The dream of a kitchen garden finally came true. It was hard work, and still is, but having a kitchen garden is so soothing and I feel happy every time, I’m in the garden.
We don’t have children but I am planning on giving my sisters children beautiful childhood memories of a kitchen garden, everytime they come visit. Can’t wait to imprint them with wonderful smells, sights and feelings.