Old world traditions still live on in Trumbull County, Ohio where Italians still garden, can, and make great use of home grown produce.
Dominick Gatta, a second generation Italian American, used to grow an impressive garden every year that produced enough food to supply his household, neighbors, children, grand children, great grand children, and even great great grandchildren with vegetables and herbs to aid in cooking wonderful meals. Dominic, also known by his nickname Minguccio, has passed his knowledge of gardening on to the generations now that health conditions keep him from enjoying the sun and the dirt for long periods of time.
Minguccio is just one of a number of Italian American's whose family settled down in Trumbull County Ohio. In the area Brier Hill, Niles, and Youngstown have boasted Italian American communities. The children of these immigrants were raised to value the fruits of the good tilled earth, and even their children and grandchildren see value in having a vegetable garden.
Because of Ohio's drastic season changes many people wait till mid or late May before planting outside. Usually people will start shoots in basement growing areas or in kitchen window sills. People will then begin to till the garden area once the ground has thawed and been thoroughly soaked by the April shower's. By late summer gardens teaming with produce supply all the comforts of home grown foods to kitchen tables.
The gardens in my immediate area will produce tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, spinach, garlic, and peppers. They will also include herbs such as rosemary, sage, parsley, oregano, thyme and many others. In the past we have also grown edible flowers such as borage, nasturtium, and roses.
Niles, OH is but one little suburban area in Trumbull County that allows vegetable gardens to be prominently displayed. "Suburban gardening" is common place and is even increasing in popularity. Gardening is not just about the beauty of landscaping, it has become a tool to trim costs and even survive in the struggling American economy. More people are finding the value in being able to grow their own food and can what they cannot use in the summer to have the benefit of their garden even in the winter. North East Ohioans are blessed to still have thriving members of the greatest generation to pass on those survival skills.
Today I will begin to clear out weeds and hoe the small patch of garden in my yard to prepare it for the shoots I will be starting tonight with my kids. My kids, Minguccio's great great grandchildren, will begin to experience the joy our family has in gardening as I impart the knowledge onto them that was handed down to me.
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