When visiting Amish communities, I admire their bounteous gardens, usually situated near the home.
Whatever the size of the household, the vegetable garden is essential; most of its harvest will be consumed fresh or canned for the upcoming winter.
A flourish of colorful annuals may adorn one side of the vegetable plot. An abundance of lettuce, radishes, peas, onion, green beans, potatoes, watermelon, squash, cucumbers, and more thrive in the fertile soil.
“Incredible,” a popular variety of small corn, is a favorite among the Amish. They often freeze the sweet kernels for later use. Many families rent freezer space, sometimes in their English (non-Amish) neighbor’s garage. Families pass pickle recipes down through the generations.
Seed saving, seed exchange, and grafting of heirloom fruit trees are common practices among the Amish. Some Amish propagate medicinal herbs such as yarrow, feverfew, St. John’s wort, and horehound.
I once believed Amish gardens were the domain of women and children only, but two women in different states told me some men enjoy cultivating and tending them. Whilst English (non-Amish) children might be glued to a TV or computer, Amish youngsters are sent outdoors to weed, water, and learn the art of gardening. An Amish friend chuckled as she mentioned it was great entertainment for children. “It gives them something to do,” she said.
Vibrant perennials such as petunias, begonias, and coleus surround nearly every Amish house. I use a push mower to clip my yard and am under the impression Lancaster County Old Order Amish do too. But an Amish friend in Indiana told me where she lives most Amish use gas-powered mowers to maintain their lush lawns.
Potted flowers reside on the porch or on an interior windowsill. Amaryllis bloom inside during winter months. I recall seeing potted cardinal-red geraniums in an Amish friend’s home that made mine look puny. Am I not using enough natural fertilizer?
The Amish delight and intrigue me at every turn. I admire their dedication to a self-sufficient lifestyle and maintaining their land using traditional planting methods.
Are you a gardener? Flowers only or vegetables too? What draws you to it?
All photos used courtesy of The Connection Magazine. Receive one free copy by calling 1-888-333-2119.
Kate Lloyd, a native of Baltimore, loves to spend time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her bestselling novels Leaving Lancaster and Pennsylvania Patchwork. Her latest book, Forever Amish is the third novel in the Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy.
She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for Kate’s first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. Kate studied art and art history in college. She’s worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur.
Purchase Kate’s books here.
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