[Photo: James McBryde with his summertime garden; he’s working on his fall garden now. (Submitted photo)]
By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • During the summer and fall there’s a pretty patch of earth near Wagram overflowing with vegetables, planted and carefully tended by James McBryde.
At 73 years old, even after suffering a heart attack, he’s got a lot growing on.
Born and raised in Hoke County, McBryde learned how to garden as a child when it wasn’t just a hobby, but a necessity for many families.
“I was raised in Bowmore and Hilltop, and my mama more or less got me started in gardening. Way back in them days, you didn’t have any other choice but to plant a garden in order to survive during the winter,” he said. “You could kind of make it during the summer, but in the winter time you needed something or other, because there wasn’t much stirring.”
“I’ve been planting a garden ever since, and I’m 73 years old,” he said.
McBryde worked as a supervisor in the custodian department of McCain hospital for over three decades, before retiring in 2002. Ever since then he’s kept busy – spending time with his garden, his family and even working with a lawn care business.
“I work every day,” McBryde said.
Even a medical bump in the road hardly slowed him down. McBryde suffered a heart attack last year and has been staying with his two daughters ever since, because they wanted him to be closer to medical care.
“They won’t let me live out there in the country,” he said.
Even so, he still planted his garden this year.
He usually starts his spring planting in March, but that depends on the weather. After so many years of gardening, McBryde knows what to look for and when is the best time to plant.
“I watch the weather and see how the weather’s going to be. If it looks like I’m going to have an early spring then I’ll start my corn, because I like my corn to go early, because I won’t have to worry about the bugs so bad,” he said.
McBryde grows a variety of produce. Good weather and some Miracle Gro mixed with other fertilizer gave him a bumper crop over the summer months.
“My whole garden was a good garden this year,” he said.
He typically plants twice a year, for a spring/summer crop and then for a fall/winter crop. By August his first planting of the year has already come and gone, with clean dirt plowed into neat rows ready for what comes next.
With high gas prices, inflation and lingering effects from the pandemic, gardening can help supplement food for families or even give them extra to give away to others.
“A lot of people plant a garden that size to sell, but I give mine away, maybe to people who can’t plant a garden. I give mine to people that’s in need, not counting what we eat,” McBryde said.
And, it doesn’t take as much space as it might seem to grow a garden, he pointed out.
He shared some thoughts about gardening with his niece, Daphne Dudley.
“Fresh vegetables are the way of life. I enjoy growing vegetables for myself, family, and friends. It does not take much to have a great vegetable garden, you only need little time and patience,” McBryde wrote. “I plant twice a year, once in the spring and then in the fall. Spring crop can be beans, peas, watermelon, corn tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, onions, white potatoes and more. Fall crop can consist of cabbage, collards, mustards broccoli, and more.” “You too can grow your own garden. Some have raised gardens, buckets, window sills and a small area in your back yard. Just be patient, remember to water often and enjoy.”