Remembering Planting Day on Good Friday

Saturday, April 15, 2006 - by Harmon Jolley
Where is Eb when you need him?  Click to enlarge.
Where is Eb when you need him? Click to enlarge.

As of this writing, I’ve been busy with spring planting in our garden. Like Lisa Douglas used to say on the TV show, “Green Acres,” the seeds are now in the rich brown earth, and will be “shoosting” up to the sun and the sky. Carrying on what is a definitely a southern tradition, I took off from work on Good Friday in order to plant our garden.

Concerning Good Friday as a day to plant a garden, Roots Web (www.rootsweb.com) says, “Certain lore ruled the weather and the planting and harvesting of gardens and crops. Most all our forefathers planted by the signs of the Zodiac and by certain Saint's days. Potatoes were planted on St. Patrick's Day and all other vegetables for an early healthy crop should be planted on Good Friday. The idea was that as Christ was buried on Friday and came forth from the grave on Sunday, so would these garden plants.”

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) mentioned that the traditional planting day can also be traced to the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15). The good seed was seen as a metaphor for the burial of Jesus on Good Friday, since the seed had to be buried in order to produce fruit.

The planting day on Good Friday and gardening in general are part of our family’s tradition. My grandparents on both sides of the family had gardens, though out of necessity more than pleasure. A garden was a way to keep a large family fed during the Depression. My mother’s family had a large garden on their farm near Jasper, TN while my father’s family sowed a smaller plot behind their home in St. Elmo. The experiences were similar in my wife’s family.

My parents lived in the city for many years before moving to Middle Valley. There, they were able to get back to their roots by having a garden. My mother said that one of the biggest grins she ever saw on my father’s face was when he dug his first sweet potato. He also kept the office staff at Combustion Engineering supplied with fresh produce for several years.

There are many benefits of having a home garden. Working in the garden provides good exercise, and gives families an opportunity to be together. You can have fresh fruits and vegetables all summer, and save some for the off-season by canning or freezing. If you have a bumper crop, there are now opportunities at places like the Chattanooga Market to sell your produce.

We grow a variety of items in our garden, but the one that generates the most questions and comments is popcorn. Many folks seem to think that popcorn is something made in a factory, not grown as a crop. Some do not realize that it is suitable for a home garden. . When our daughter shared some home-grown popcorn with other dorm students at her college, one of the students asked, “Are you Amish?” Once you’ve had fresh Tennessee popcorn, you never want to go back to the microwaved variety.

If you have memories of planting a garden on Good Friday, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

Ready for the pantry.  Click to enlarge.
Ready for the pantry. Click to enlarge.

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