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Monday, August 14, 2006

These days, the bulk of my summer produce comes from the Union Square Farmer’s Market in Manhattan. I work just a few blocks away, and it’s easy to zoom there on my lunch break and buy a few tomatoes, a couple ears of corn, a shiny eggplant, or whatever looks especially appealing that particular afternoon. For an apartment dweller like me, a farmer’s market is a fantastic resource indeed—and I’m lucky to have easy access to probably the best one in New York City.

But when my mother sent me this picture of tomatoes from her garden in northern California, I was reminded that even a great farmer’s market does not compare to a home plot. The market may have more variety, sure, but one’s own garden offers so much more: a deep sense of pride, for one thing. That hefty tomato in your hand? You nurtured it and, in all likelihood, observed it as it grew day by day. And there’s nothing like that sense of joyful abundance when everything finally begins to ripen—creativity kicks in (how can I showcase a zucchini, two eggplant, ten jalapeno peppers, and three cherry tomatoes?), meals become more colorful.

Brian and I had a garden for two blissful summers. We lived in Brooklyn, in a damp basement studio that we not-so-affectionately nicknamed “the cave.” Its one saving grace was the yard. We bought a brand-new Weber gas grill for the patio, raked out a square plot in the enormous garden, and began planting. Being garden neophytes, we had no idea how much to plant that first summer. I bought one green bean plant, which never yielded more than five or so beans at once. The cucumber plant was an utter failure. For whatever reason, I decided to put in eight cherry tomatoes, so at one point we had buckets of fruit—and more seemed to ripen by the minute. It was a chore keeping up with them, but I don’t regret my gardening mishaps at all. In fact, I would quite happily trade a four-dollar heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market for a bucket of those cherry tomatoes, grown by my own hand.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing our tomatoes online. They look so very yummy ...... I'll agree we have enough to feed a few families, but it's very rewarding when we start picking our own fruit! mom

12:34 PM  

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