Posted by Baceseras on September 06, 2007
In Reply to: Re: Two in a hill posted by Victoria S Dennis on September 05, 2007
: : : : My father, now deceased, often used this phrase in respone to someone asking him how he was. He'd reply, "Oh, about two in a hill."
: : : : I never got around to asking him what it meant, and I don't recall anyone else ever using it. However, I always 'assumed' it had to do with planting a field - probably with corn or beans - by hand. That is, the person would walk the plowed rows in the field dropping seeds in the hills that had been formed as you go. I supposed the better one felt the more seeds he/she could usually drop into a single hill.
: : : : Has anyone else on this forum ever heard that expression or have any alternative ideas as to its meaning?
: : : Not worth a hill of beans?
: : I hadn't heard "two in a hill" before. Here's another speculation: Bean plants are usually grown four or five to a hill. If only two of your seeds in each hill sprouted to produce vines, you don't have an abundant bean crop, but it's better than nothing. Your father's expression might therefore be a colorful equivalent of "So-so" or "Fair to middling." ~rb
: It could be a garbled version of an Irish saying: "small potatoes and few in the hill" (i.e. [the potato patch produces] small potatoes, and not many even of those").
Hereabouts, beans are sown four or five to a hill, but of course not all beans sprout and not all sprouts survive; in any case, after sprouting the seedlings are thinned, pinching out all but the strongest grower in each hill. (Hills are laid out quite close together: 12 inches is the garden-book recommendation, but most of us measure by guess and by golly, and come up with slightly closer spacing.) The OP's father would be doing well if he answered "Two to a hill" --- that is, two thriving plants to select from in each hill sown.