Since 1892, Henry Field's Seed & Nursery Company has been offering quality seeds, plants and service through their mail order catalogs. The mailing comes to us around the first of the year, affording the farmer and garden or landscaping enthusiast ample time to select items from the colorful pages. We can pick up useful planting tips, compare varieties, order nursery stock and dream of the day the fruits of our labors will mature, hopefully, to look like those pictures and taste even better than we imagine.
My late father placed sizable orders with, both, Henry Fields and Gurneys. Long before the aforementioned publications found their way to his mailbox, he gathered knowledge from many sources, including his grandfather, as well as, his father. Hugh Lynch mastered gardening early on. Long before fancy hybrids were developed he had planting down to a science; he knew how to select seeds and starts, divide bulbs and prepare cuttings. He knew how to introduce them to the sun and rain, quickly and babied them when they dance in the wind. Everything, including weeds, thrived and his green thumb kept a tight grip on the hoe handle. Even the dogs knew to not mess with his gardens.
Then came the chance to improve on his yields. He was thrilled when spring catalogs began to arrive in his mailbox. They held the same importance as his monthly issues of Hounds & Hunting, Field &Stream and Outdoor Life.
The provider of our little family depended on bountiful gardens and a small orchard, heavily. We enjoyed the best of fresh vegetables, juicy peaches, tasty apples, plump plums, and succulent berries. Some days a sour stick of rhubarb was worth a try.
What a pleasure it was to help Dad and Mom realize our wealth! Those seed catalogs were Godsends. Yes they were! Canned goods lined the shelves and bins were heaped to the tops with Irish potatoes. Bunches of fat dried onions tethered with strings attached to nails hung from the rafters. Bushels of other root vegetables, apples, and other foodstuffs saved well, in the cool cellar beneath our home. Come springtime little remained to carry over until the next harvest. We took from the earth, and gave back; the next spring came and we, happy and grateful gardeners, planted again.
During my early years, our plants came from the Rader family's greenhouse and outdoor plant beds, behind their home on East Hendrix Street. Mr. Rader, his son Andrew, and other family members provided us with healthy sweet potato, cabbage, pepper and tomato plants each year, after the last frosts before planting seasons.
Often friends and neighbors gave us seeds saved from the previous harvests. Dusty old capped fruit jars held those treasures during the winter months. The contents ready for a taste of freshly plowed earth and our curiosity tipped the jars.
Dad collected seeds like ladies amass old and reusable buttons of every size and color. He found a hole for every one of them the same.
Dad gardened for many years after I grew up. He worked five plots on his place. Many of you and your youngsters may have visited my late father's healthy pumpkin patches over the years or you were gifted with vegetables and or fruits given with a free heart. He was always a sharing person.
My buddy continued to order seeds from seed companies and the local hardware store served him well, until closing. His brother, John Lynch provided seeds and healthy plants in baker's dozens .The good old boys swapped helpful hints and shared bounties.
John's son, Tom Lynch followed in his father's footsteps. The professional nurseryman adds much toward the beautification of Brazil and surrounding areas during spring, summer and fall. He loves to sell fresh fruits and vegetables too.
Truth is he doesn't sit still in winter either. Lynch Farm Market is alive and thriving today and everyday, at the same location, 9339 North Kennedy's Crossing Road.
My first indication that my father was ill came during the spring of 1993. He was in his garden , working his way through the tender plants and vines, striking down weeds with his tiny well-honed hoe. He suddenly became overcome by something. Dad's was pale. He complained of feeling faint and began to shake a bit. He sat down in the metal lawn chair beneath the large oak by the road. Within a short time he felt, somewhat, better.
I called the office of Dr. Stanley Froderman, a good friend of my father and made an appointment. After the initial visit and several tests, Dad's diagnoses was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. We were sent to St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove and he forewent more testing, then and there, on that sad day, specialists associated with the oncology department gave us the prognosis and; it wasn't good.
Still, Dad chose to receive chemotherapy and fight to the end and that he did! The tough old trouper was given best of care at the Clay County Hospital, but my favorite gardener could not shake it off; he was tired. He died during his favorite month of the year, June 7,1994.
Those seed catalogs have a way of comforting me each year. They take me to the gardens I once knew, vividly and; they help me deal with the harvest. His absence is felt every day and more; gardening at the homestead has never been the same.
Happy New Year to all of you and may God bless each and every one of you in the days to come.
Thanks for reading Brazil Buzz. It is appreciated!
I can be reached at 613 North Elm Street, Brazil, IN., 47834 or by e-mail at email@example.com.