Gardening with Oma

With Spring just around the corner and the prospect of warmer weather, one can’t help but get excited about the idea of fresh fruit and vegetables. Oma Montgomery has been a resident at Cloverleaf for the last seven years, and Oma has on more than one occasion experienced vine-ripened tomatoes or a fully ripen peach that is so juicy, juice runs down your arm as you pick it.

Oma and her husband August raised their five children (Murry, John, Harold, Patricia, and Aileen) in Terre Haute on a nine acre farm that was shared with her mother-in-law. On their property they had a two acre strawberry patch, a one acre vegetable garden, several fruit trees, and a greenhouse. The greenhouse was quite large. Materials to build the greenhouse came from the old Davis Garden’s Nursery. Oma and her husband used the greenhouse mostly to start seeds and to bring in perennial flowers during colder weather.

The garden that Oma and her family planted was large enough that they grew all the produce they would need for an entire year. Other than purchasing flour and some seasonings, they didn’t have much use for a grocery store. Plants that they raised included corn, green beans, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peas, and beets. They also raised many fruits which included raspberries, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, plums, and apples.

The family also raised a lot of their own meat which included chickens, rabbits, and turkeys. Oma was able to preserve all this food by canning and freezing. In fact they were one of the first people in the area to get a freezer. Anything that they didn’t grow they were always able to trade with other local growers. Oma always enjoyed trading and giving away anything extra that they had on hand.

Oma and August also dabbled as beekeepers. Oma learned the skill from her father who was a fellow beekeeper. They were able to raise and maintain roughly six different hives; however they were forced to shut down their bee operation after learning one of their daughters was highly allergic to bees.

Oma and August were able to pass on their joy for gardening onto their children. She even has some grandchildren who have taken up the trade. In all Oma and August have seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Oma was married to August for twenty-two years before his passing, but still reflects fondly on their years living on the farm.