Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I have always had a garden. Nothing too elaborate – just a few tomato plants, cucumbers and an eggplant or two. I have found some success with green beans, snap peas, okra, carrots and sage. I have experimented with other plants and found that I can’t seem to grow asparagus, Brussel Sprouts or strawberries.
A problem I have had for three years now is with the pepper plants. Each year I buy two Bell Pepper plants and each year they turn out to be some sort of jalapeno pepper plants. I will not buy pepper plants next year – only seeds from here on out.
Anyway… as my grandkids were born and matured enough to poke a hole into the dirt, they have joined me in the garden and helped me plant the crops. The grandkids from out of town would visit throughout the growing season and would help Oma harvest the produce later in the season.
RaiLee on the other hand lives in town and stays with me for several days at a time. She was just a toddler when she first accompanied me out into the garden, helping with the planting, watering and the harvesting. She became fascinated with plants and of course bugs, bunnies and butterflies.
I saved a Facebook post from July 6, 2015 that describes our garden experience at that time. Looking back, it’s cute – at least to me…
Rai and I have been working on the garden for the past several weeks. Together we planted the seeds and oooooo’ed and aaaaaaaa’ed over the little baby plants that emerged from the soil. We’ve watched the plants grow bigger and I’ve explained that the flowers will become tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers and beans.
Rai monitors her tomato plant and marvels at the small green fruit getting larger everyday and asks repeatedly when it will be red. I’m having so much fun watching her coming to grips with the whole planting – nurturing – harvesting process… you can just see the wheels turning in that little head.
The other night she was letting Lucy out the door when she asked me “What is that going to be?” I have no idea what she is talking about so she asks me again… “What is that going to be?” This went on for awhile until I figured out, she was talking about the flowers in the hanging basket on the patio. I had to explain that some flowers are just for show and don’t produce anything – they are just pretty and make us happy. It made sense. Now we are just waiting for that green tomato to ripen so we can eat him. Grow Big Red!
The following growing season Rai and I conducted a potato growing experiment. We punched holes in a plastic bucket, filled it with garden soil and then planted some seed potatoes. I explained how the seed potatoes would grow plants on the top and the potatoes would grow in the soil. Rai enjoyed watching the plants grow in the bucket but not seeing the potatoes was disappointing and certainly not as interesting as the other plants producing something tangible right before your eyes…
At long last, we decided the potato bucket growing experiment was done. Sam and Mac joined in on the great reveal. It wasn’t all that great but there were some potatoes harvested and we did get to enjoy mashed potatoes for supper. Another gardening lesson learned…
The next year we constructed an outdoor kitchen area for creating delicious mud pies and we added a raised garden bed so she could grow her own produce. She has had some success! One year, tomatoes did fantastic as did the accidental jalapeno peppers. Cucumbers excelled – leaving the garden bed and wrapping themselves around the surrounding bushes. Some cucumbers grew hidden from view reaching lengths of 18 inches and as big around as my thigh… maybe that is an exaggeration… but not by much. Basil did wonderful last year and of course the accidental jalapeño!
At 7 years of age Rai is a big help in cleaning sweet corn and continues to help me plant and tend the gardens. She helps with the watering and she alerts me to Japanese Beetles munching on the leaves. She keeps an eye on the green tomatoes and tells me when they are nearing red – picking them in their prime. She shares my frustration as we stare at those two jalapeno plants and wonder how the pepper plants could have been mis-labeled, three years in a row.
She doesn’t like picking the pokey cucumbers but enjoys peeling them. She is anxious for the carrots to grow bigger and can’t control the urge to see if they are large enough to harvest. She leaves the tiny carrots near the bushes in hopes the rabbits will eat the offering and leave her snap peas alone.
My garden is a hobby. I enjoy planting things and watching them grow. It’s wonderful when I am able to harvest something and include it in a meal. I also enjoy sharing my hobby with my grandkids. I learned so much hanging out with my Grandpa at the greenhouse and watching my parents garden at their acreage. I hope that my grandkids gain something from spending time with me in the garden, I’ve already gained so much from time spent with them…