Garden and horseradish

As soon as the frost was out of the ground in the spring, Mom planted her gardens. She had three of them. Two gardens were in the enclosed fence and one was across the road. The smallest garden was south of the house next to the clotheslines.

Dad would first plow the gardens for Mom. He hitched Dolly, the big black horse, to the hand plow. Back and forth they went, Dolly’s head bobbing up and down, snorting a bit, foam gathering at her mouth. She was a gentle beast, and I loved riding on top of her, holding onto the hames.

The disk was not necessary, as there was no sod to break up. A single drag was used. Three drag sections fastened together were needed in the field, but the garden was so small only a single section could be used.

In early spring, the small garden yielded something unique and wonderful: horseradish. This was a perennial and came up every springtime, without us ever having to replant it. It was a tuber, much like a potato, but elongated and whitish-brown. Our horseradish had green leaves with white flowers.

Phillip, Bob and I trailed behind the plow with pails picking up the horseradish. The difficult part was taking the horseradish to the basement to mash through the meat grinder, the same hand-turned meat grinder we used for grinding pork and making sausages.

We cut the tuber into smaller chunks. Next, we pushed the horseradish down into the mouth of the grinder with one hand, using the other hand to turn the crank. Horseradish takes a toll on one’s eyes. Soon our eyes would water and start to burn. We would beat a hasty retreat for a few minutes and then go at it for another few minutes.

Mom canned the horseradish. It was excellent on meats and potatoes in the winter. All that work and anguish of grinding horseradish was worthwhile.

 

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