Children of Summer :: Cherished Memories in the Garden



My oldest son has seven more summers before he graduates high school. My husband made that declaration at the beginning of summer, right before the kids were set free for summer vacation. Hearing that timeline made me reflect on my childhood and all the joys I experienced, and to hope that my children will also look back and cherish their summer memories with me. 

The best memories I had with my mom and grandmother during the summer months were gardening, especially when it came to the picking.

It was, and still is, like a treasure hunt to find the ripest or juiciest gems on the stem. Sure, trips to the beach or the mountains were great but for me, picking tomatoes and blueberries ripe off the vine meant it was summer.

Early June, I could always count on my mom and I waking up extra early and loading bucket after bucket with delectable blueberries. My blueberry quota was usually much lower than my mom’s and that’s still the case as an adult. As a child I would get too distracted looking at the scenery – the early morning mist playing among the landscape. While I do think my picking skills have improved, I still find it absolutely impossible to pick a full bucket. These days that is due to my three kids either running like gazelles through the fields, eating their share of berries to the point of turning slightly purple, or going on strike. To be completely honest, it’s probably all of the above. On the other hand, as summer’s bounty continues to flourish, I can pick a tomato like it’s nobody’s business!

If you’ve never picked a tomato ripe off the vine that’s still warm from the sun, then you really should, my friend.

My 100-year-old grandmother still tends to her gardens and quite honestly, her tomatoes are filled with so much flavor you just feel sorry for those imposters being sold in the grocery stores. While my grandmother and mother continue to be successful gardeners, I’ve been neglecting my obvious calling. Just a few years ago, my husband and I thought we could have a blueberry gold mine if we planted our own blueberry bushes. If blueberry bushes could laugh, that’s what they did to us, and then promptly died. This completely discouraged me from gardening. That is until recently.

My middle son came home from school a few weeks ago and talked about planting a garden. Apparently the science lesson was the life cycle of plants. While he’s pretty set on only eating carrots, I started brainstorming. Perhaps if he witnessed the vegetables growing from his own backyard, he would try something new. I figure it’s worth a shot.

Luna in the garden

Just a few weeks ago, I planted tomatoes, squash, zucchini, bell peppers and cucumbers. In such a short time these tiny green leaves have transformed to massive, blossoming plants. Showing my oldest son our little garden, he exclaimed, “Mom, you must be feeding your garden the same food you feed Luna.” His comparison was to our two-year-old, 110 pound Lab/Shepard pound pup. Fortunately, Mother Nature has been blessing our garden as I either forget to water the garden or, in most cases, the massive puppy bogarts the water dripping from the hose, making it impossible to water anything.

My kids, my dog and my garden are growing so quickly, right before my eyes. This little garden of mine is helping me focus on the passage of time and cherish our summers together.

As with life, obstacles may get in the way of my gardening, but I hope to continue to nourish my children with love, patience, fun, and homegrown veggies so they can enjoy being children of summer.


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Growing up in North Mississippi, Heather often read of the Spanish moss that swayed in with the warm gulf breeze from enchanting live oaks, as well as the delectable seafood that described the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Having never visited the area, it was fate that she met a handsome co-ed from Biloxi while in college. Soon she not only fell in love with him but all things Gulf Coast. Graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism, Heather and her husband briefly moved to Washington, D.C, before returning to Mississippi with stops in Oxford and Jackson. Eventually they settled in Ocean Springs where they raise their three children and two dogs. Heather began her journalism career designing and writing for the Daily Mississippian at the University of Mississippi. She worked professionally in media and public relations until her first son was born. While raising her three children, Heather has worked as a freelance writer and photographer for various publications and most recently began a food blog called The Southern Diner. As a southerner, there's nothing Heather loves more than feeding family and friends, all while telling a good story. Sometimes a certain dish will evoke a memory of her childhood, or a meal will reveal a humorous story from a friend. Bottom line, food is entertaining, and Heather likes to share her adventures in cooking and eating with loved ones. In addition to being a mom, Heather is also president of Pecan Park Elementary PTO, board secretary for the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, life member of Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi-Ocean Springs and member of Les Masquees.


  1. Lovely article. The comparison of tending to a garden and plants in general with raising children is one I have made many times. All need food, water, light, rest, and love!

  2. My grandmother and my uncle taught me to grow vegetables. You are right, Heather, it is in my heart as one of the best things about my childhood!
    I wish you luck with your veggies. You could start your own fertilizer line, “Luna Plant Food!”

    My grandmother grew a few little cotton plants for me so I could take the flowers and boles to class. As a South Mississippi girl, I had never seen cotton on the plant. It was cool! My classmates were impressed!

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