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Grandma’s Garden

by | Feb 12, 2019

…where more than vegetables will be growing.

Grandma’s Garden was inspired by one very special woman, my mother-in-law Ruby Ziegler. She is the most extraordinary and most hospitable person I’ve ever met. (And an amazing cook!)

Seasonal fun is just one of the many special touches Ruby does for Sunday family lunches. This photo is from the Sunday following Halloween. The birthday celebrations are wonderful too!

Something so rare in modern culture, Ruby and her husband Ken commit to a family tradition that I am honored to be a part of each week.  She cooks Sunday lunch for her entire family–including children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This number averages about 20 a week along with the occasional guest she invites.

This is no lightweight lunch. Amazingly, the meal seems to be bubbling and table-ready almost as soon as we arrive from church—her included! The way I describe this lunch to others is this: it’s like we have Thanksgiving dinner every week. Delicious and abundant.

The garden full of beans and lots of tomato plants!

On her regular menu, as you might imagine in this gardening family, are home-grown vegetables. So, on top of cooking for her family each week, she also takes every opportunity to prepare for future Sunday lunches by storing up what she cans and freezes and turns into delicious jellies and jams.  She loves preparing and serving the food from our garden. 

The garden here on our flower farm has always included vegetables, many destined for the Sunday lunch table. Traditionally we have grown string beans and tomatoes that are ever present in her dishes. Other veggies pop in and out of the menu as available like lettuce and corn. She of course finds ways to use everything we grow.

Ruby just so naturally shares of herself. People always come first, be family, friends or strangers. She is always able to squeeze yet another chair around the table or tweak the dishes so there’s plenty for all. Instead of fretting over an unexpected guest or a recipe malfunction, she just moves on and makes all feel welcome.

Harvested beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash heading to Grandma’s house!

This past winter, the unthinkable happened. Ruby’s supply of frozen green beans ran out. Boy, how we missed those garden beans! But from that lack, an idea was born. Following an innocent chat across the Sunday lunch table, the concept of “Grandma’s Garden” began to grow in my mind.

This would be a garden that doesn’t just provide food for our table, but that follows even more of Ruby’s example of sharing not only the garden, but sharing of ourselves and beyond.

I have invited four others to have a hand in this project –a family member, a new friend, and two longtime friends. All love eating, cooking, and gardening.

Meet Grandma’s Garden crew:

  • My niece Jessica Lasris enjoys Grandma’s weekly lunches. She’s a budding gardener and health foodie who is also a great cook.
  • Mackenzie Butler, a new friend I met through church has experience in a market garden. She is a nutritionist and has a heart for eating to promote good health.
  • Susan Ackerman a longtime family friend and a writer. She’s a strong supporter of my efforts, and has been one of our most enthusiastic bean pickers over the years.
  • Bobo Smith is a longtime friend and has been a part of our farm for 12 years. She is an amazing cook as well as the gardener extraordinaire around here. Bobo will ride shotgun on organzaing the chores and harvesting duties of Grandma’s Garden.

Each one brings a special gift to this project. My intention is for us to tend this garden to benefit the eaters, the gardeners, the community, and beyond. Stay tuned as this project gets underway— I look forward to sharing it all with you!

Happy gardening,

Lisa Z

Founder of The Gardener’s Workshop and Flower Farming School Online . Author of Vegetables Love Flowers, Cool Flowers, and The Easy Cut-Flower Garden  . Connect with Lisa on Facebook  and Instagram !